Friday, May 24, 2013


Memorial Day is for remembering the men and women who have fallen in a time of war. Unlike Veterans Day, which honors all those, living or dead, who have served in the military. It was originally called Decoration Day by a proclamation General John Logan, on May 5, 1868. The proclamation also decreed it to be a National annual observation and the first year it was held on May 30,1868. 

Remember the United States had recently fought a bloody Civil War. The country had not yet healed. General Logan's proclamation originally was in honor of fallen Union soldiers. The South had the Confederate Memorial Day observances with emphasis on the lost confederate cause and it was held in various southern states ranging from the end of April to mid June. It wasn't until about 1913 that the two halves of the country started showing signs of honoring American fallen, rather just the Union or Confederate. 

Even though there were places in the United States that called it Memorial Day, rather than Decoration Day, it wasn't until the 1940's that it became the common name. It wasn't officially so named until 1967. That was that year the Federal government proposed not only changing the name but the date of celebration from May 30th to the last Monday of the month May.  The law went into effect on the federal level in May of 1971.

There are those who may have observed the flag ceremony that goes with the holiday, where the American flag is raised at sunrise and then slowly lowered to half mast until noon. At 12:01 the flag is again raised full staff for the rest of the day. 

What is the significance of this ceremony? 

Half mast is in honor of those million plus men and women who have died in service to their country. Full staff represents the living rising up who will not allow their deaths to be in vain. The living honor this sacrifice by continuing the fight for liberty and justice for all.

Other celebrations held nationwide are parades, speeches, marching of veterans from various wars, listening to bands play military aires--and of course cookouts. This is the beginning of summer. Many choose to celebrate the latter rather then remembering, or even knowing the significance of the holiday. 

National cemeteries and military installations have solemn and formal ceremonies. Always, there is the playing of the Taps to commemorate those who have died; and in many places the honor guard give a twenty-one gun salute. In this way, they give honor to the fallen heroes who have given their lives for freedom.

I apologize to those who don't particularly like country music. I have to say there are quite a few unapologetic country singers who feel the need to honor American soldiers with song and video. 

If you wish to listen and watch this one, which is quite good, I'd suggest scrolling down to bottom very bottom of the blog to the music player and turn it off. Otherwise there will be a clash of music, lol!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               FYI: I will be taking a break the last week of May and will resume the blog normal posting in June. 

I am participating in the health blog hop on Wednesday May 29th.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


My husband cracks me up.

For one thing, he loves westerns. He and the Western channel are good buds. I believe he’s watched about every western series made—all 145 or so. 


Me? I’m not a big fan of westerns—well aside from Bonanza, Big Valley, and The Virginian (when I was very young, about 9 or 10-ish I had a wicked crush on Little Joe). These were my dad’s favorites. I remember the theme songs to two others Dad watched regularly, The Rebel (Johnny Yuma) and Rawhide. I say the theme songs because we were usually in bed when they came on, but I can sing the both songs—Have Gun Will Travel too. The only Western I really liked was Wild, Wild West when I was a bit older. Anything else? Forget it.

My husband has a fabulous memory for dialog—especially for anything Lonesome Dove. That’s top on the list of westerns he loves.  I actually had to get downright threatening when he thought going to live in Montana (he calls it MUN-tana) would be a good thing.

Really? Have you seen the snow they get up there? Well, I have. No way, no how. Have a good time. Be sure to write, lol! 

One of his very good friends (and fellow Lonesome Dove aficionados) actually did move there which tickled Dan to no end to think of Terrence “Woodrow” in MUN-tana. Terry has a magnetized sign that goes on his truck that says, “Hat Creek Cattle Company”. You’ll never guess who got that for him.

Any number of situations can have Dan quoting ole Gus or Woodrow and he doesn't particularly care where he is when he does. My son and I know, from long observation, when he’s setting up for a quote ‘fest, particularly in restaurants and we tend to hide behind our menus. Slow service or a “surly Bartender” will get you, “One of the things we didn't put up with back then is dawdling service and as you can see, we still don’t…put up with it.”  At a table with friends, he’s been known to raise his Gold Margarita on rocks, with salt, “Here’s to the sunny slopes of long ago.” I fully expect him to tell me on his deathbed, “My God, Woodrow. It has been quite a party, ain't it?”

My husband also loves corny jokes and sayings. He has pages of stuff he’s made up. Other things are from pop culture like movies, TV shows, or comedy skits. He love “voices” and is very good with mimicking what he hears—everything from Dirty Harry to one of his favorites, South Park’s Lock Ness Monster skit. Yep, he’s been known to launch into that one at any time but especially when he hears the price of something being $2 or $3.50, “and I said tree-fitty?” He can do the whole thing, gestures, inflections, voices and all. 

He loves the voices and does them very well. Bless his heart. Too well.

Which is why we have a sign hanging beside the back door that reads: 

Warning! Alleged Comedian in residence. Enter at your own risk. 

Monday, May 20, 2013


One of the good things about editing, especially when it’s a story you wrote several years before, is you can read it with a critical eye. There are parts that blow me away because they’re good (wow, I wrote that!) and then there are other parts that have me cringing over word choices or the over abundance of adverbs, backstory, or passive verbs.

I've done more reading than writing the past couple of years and while I can read a book critically, I usually don’t. I’m a beta reader. I read those stories and proposals with a different eye. When I pick up a book to read it’s for story’s entertainment value. Kind of like movies—some are good, some are just okay and they entertain, some movies are fabulous in their storyline and execution. Do I see flaws, sure, but unless they’re really bad and the story has huge holes in it (at which point I don’t read any further ‘cause you've lost my interest), I tend to gloss over all the little nits and concentrate on the adventure, solving the crime, falling in love, or kicking ass.  But, when a story is done very well, I do take note of how an author handles certain components in the story. I’ll mark it and then go back late and analyze the why and how. 

Recently, I've read several stories with a good plot but what made the story outstanding to me was how the characters (even the villains) just sparkled. They were so real and the dialog was excellent as were the reactions and interactions between those characters. Their dialog and reactions add excitement and fun to the story without a lot of narrative. It takes skill to do that.  A few authors who have a knack of writing good characters like that are Carolyn Brown, Julie Ann Walker, Lori Foster, Olivia Cunning, Karen Foley, and Susan Sey, to name but a few. Carolyn writes some fabulous characters that use regional phrases and colloquialisms—I love the richness and the humor of her stories.

As I read over my stories one of the things I’m paying attention to is how I've written my characters and their dialog. I want them to sparkle, too. I want the layers touching on the senses that put the reader on the spot and in the action. Right there on the center-line  They hear the grunts, smell the sweat, feel the

excitement, and hear the whistle of the ball in their ears and the smack it makes when it’s caught. I don’t want them to just be spectators in the nosebleed section.

I've got some work to do and that’s a fact. But, I’m not groaning over it all. Instead there is a sizzle of excitement as I look at better ways to put my reader on the spot.