Thursday, September 29, 2011

Too Many Distractions?


I am the kid in the middle, holding the baby--my sister--and pointing to the picture in the book. My brother is holding the book. I am wearing a lovely dress and my brother is missing a few teeth. :^) My sister is looking at the books on the shelf. We always had plenty of books and since Dad was a journalist, we had lots of newspapers, too.

There were fewer diversions in those days. Maybe that's why more people read books and wrote letters. Yes, we had television, but we did not have 200 channels. Every summer some tubes in the television would burn out and my mother would refuse to get it repaired until September. So we caught lightning bugs and roasted marshmallows on the beach and we read books, and wrote stuff.

When I was several years older than I am in the photo above, my brother and I built a treehouse one summer. There was a tree by the southeast corner of our house with a triple trunk. From scraps of lumber we put together a rather rudimentary structure. My brother did most of the actual construction. He was better at wielding a hammer than I was. My job was to straighten out the bent nails we had gathered to use for our building.

Eventually, the treehouse was finished. There wasn’t much to it—a floor, a simple railing, and a roof. We didn’t have any paint. The wood quickly turned to a weathered gray color.

Once it was done, my brother busied himself with another project. He was more of a doer. I was the dreamer. So the treehouse became my private domain where I would sit, gaze out at the lake, and make up stories without being bothered by distractions--like my younger sisters. :^)

Life was simpler and there seemed to be more time--for everything.

Today, everyone is so busy! There are people who don't read a single book in an entire year. There are people who never write a letter and have given up sending cards. There are so many forms of entertainment vying for their attention that books and writing are altogether forgotten.

I find that very sad.

Friday, September 23, 2011

I Told You So


My first book, Sea Of Hope, was published in 2001 by Awe-Struck EBooks. It was originally published only in digital format. However, for those who wanted a physical "book" it could be purchased as a file on a 3 1/2 inch diskette. (Remember those?)

It was very difficult being an e-published author at first. While I believed in the viability of ebooks from the first time I held a Rocket eReader in my hands, most of the world had no idea what I was talking about. Worst of all, many traditionally published authors denigrated those of us who had decided to try our luck with ebooks. That stung a bit, but I knew I was right and that ebooks would catch on.

Nevertheless, I spent several years attempting to educate people on the wonders of ebooks. For the most part, it was a wasted endeavor.

Then came the Kindle. It was the right gadget at the right time with the right price. Suddenly, reading on an electronic device was the height of fashion. Ebooks took off and soon their sales surpassed those of paper books.

Now traditionally published authors, who were unwilling to give any credence to ebooks at first, have mined their backlists and republished their books on their own, making tidy profits in digital sales.

I hold no grudges. I was aware from the first that the traditionally published were fearful of the new media and waiting to see what would happen. In truth, ebooks turned the publishing world upside down. To those traditionally published authors who are now enjoying success in digital publishing, I offer my congratulations. I am glad that ebooks have become accepted as I knew they would.

I am happy writing my stories and being a published author. That's all I wanted in the first place.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unity


You can see it if you look closely. Printed on our United States currency you can find the Latin words, "E pluribus unum." Translated it means, "Out of many, one." In other words, despite our country's many states, races, ideologies, and regional differences, we are united.

Most of the time, it doesn't seem that way. We proclaim ourselves as Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives, Northerners or Southerners, white collar workers or blue collar workers, Christians, Jews, or Atheists. We divide ourselves with labels.

Out of the tragedy of September 11, 2001, there was one big miracle. We were all united. The feeling did not last long, but it was there for a time. The churches were full, the flags were flying, we were all listening to patriotic music--we were all Americans. It is sad that we have since returned to putting ourselves back into our respective corners, keeping ourselves separated from each other.

Yes, I have labeled myself into my little corner, too. However, I do mingle (as every writer should) and I do my best to be open-minded. As my father always says, "Live and let live."

May we always strive for unity, for that is where our strength lies.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Simply Amazing

Dad bought a Mac Mini this week. This amazing computer is very, very small--but very, very powerful. Dad had been frustrated by his old WebTV. Microsoft stopped supporting it and the browser cannot display such sites as Facebook or YouTube. Nevertheless, it had been easy for Dad to receive and send email with the WebTV, so he was reluctant to change.

I thought the Mac Mini could nearly duplicate the experience of Dad's WebTV because he could use his television as the monitor. With a wireless keyboard and trackpad, I had hoped it wouldn't be too difficult. It was a breeze to set up.

However, there's a huge learning curve involved. Dad now has a very powerful machine. I bought him a book on the Lion operating system, which is the latest Apple system. I went through the steps of how to turn the machine off and on, find his email, and log on to Facebook.

It's going to take a while before he is proficient, but it is wonderful that he is willing to take this on at his age. Many elderly people refuse to use computers and they miss a lot.

Dad signed up for Facebook when I told him he had to do it to keep in touch with his grandchildren. He enjoys the gossip. He also enjoys reading the New York Times online. He gets a big thrill out of sending pertinent articles to everyone, a task that had become impossible with his old WebTV.

Watch out world. Dad will soon be cluttering up your inbox with news he believes you should read. :^)

Thursday, September 01, 2011

Too Much Water


Hurricane Irene is gone, but she left a lot of misery in her wake. For the first time in the thirty-two years we've live here, the reservoir near our house overflowed at the same time the tide rose. This created a huge flood.

There have been several storms where the level of the river was high. I have a blog post with photos from several years ago here. However, Hurricane Irene dumped more water on us than any other storm.



There is a bridge somewhere underneath all that water. Fortunately, the dam did not break--though we were worried that it would. Other dams in our state did not hold.

Our house was safe up on the hill. Our neighbor's house, to the left of the road in the photo, was flooded and knocked off its foundation by a chunk of the bridge that broke away. That house has now been condemned. Another neighbor had a tree fall on their house. Many of our neighbors have lived for a week without electricity.

Other communities in our state had far more devastation from this one storm and my heart goes out to all of those who have lost so much.