Writers, How to Scout a Location

  • March 25, 2019
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Go there. In my opinion, nothing comes close to actual sensory experience—the sights, smells, and tastes of an area. Talking to people in the area is a huge plus. And take plenty of pics.

Visit websites. There are different kinds:

  1. Tourism sites. They’ll promote the shiny views and usually have stunning photos or videos to watch.
  2. Blogs of people who visit the area and provide their own spin.
  3. Individual towns (for example) usually have their own website that’s aimed toward residents. You’ll find information on local news and agencies available to them as well as library hours and what month to get their fishing license renewed.

Newspapers. I’m currently subscribed to a newspaper for the town in which my next novel will be (at least partly) based. I travel there, but it’s been a real eye-opener to see what the locals do and say. The newspaper is both online and paper, and I opted for both: Paper can be clipped into a scrapbook that highlights the points I want to look at while I’m writing.

Books/magazines. Again, magazines often offer the shiny, pretty views of an area but some also offer in-depth issues that may or may not affect your story. Books can be anything—historical, memoir, tourist-based, and more, and your library can help with that.

This is what I’m using. What do you do?

 

Writers, Have Your Cameras Ready!

  • March 17, 2019
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There are three reasons to keep your camera ready at all times, especially when you go out.

Learning Languages (Not)

  • March 10, 2019
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Long ago, in a job far away, I was approached by a coworker. The conversation went like this:

“Do you know Hungarian?”

I looked at him blankly. “Hungarian?”

“Yes, someone told me that you were an English major so I thought I’d ask.”

“Um…I’m an English major because that’s the only language I know.”

I thought it would be obvious. Imagine my horror when I sent away for graduate school bulletins and discovered that to get a master’s degree in English (literature), I had to have a reading knowledge of French or German. Why did they think I was an English major?

I managed to squeak by in French. It’s a beautiful language with a rich literature but that wasn’t the point. I suck at other languages. It’s a mystery to me how friends picked up languages at the drop of a hat while I studied and memorized and only felt like a stuffed sausage.

Seven years learning Hebrew, but aside from the prayers, the best I can manage in conversation is “How are you?” I even bought Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Hebrew as an incentive to learn reading better this time around but I can’t read without the vowels (don’t ask).

So here I am again, attempting to learn a written language. I’m not mentioning which one since I could stop at any moment and once it’s out there, it’s forever. It’s early days yet, and I’m learning the language’s alphabet but feeling hopeful. We shall see.

How do you fare in speaking or reading foreign languages?

 

What to Do in the Winter

  • March 04, 2019
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My first instinct is to hibernate. It works well for a while but eventually makes the season feel even longer. I’m not a fan of bone-chilling cold or snow or sleet or the gray overcast that makes a sunny day a gift—if I can ignore the freezing temps that go with it. And this winter was rougher than usual. I got hit with a cold that took five weeks to get through and over, my computer crashed with no backup (I know, I know, that won’t happen again), and I had two teeth pulled.

So here’s this year’s list of things I’m doing to get through the season. In no particular order:

  1. Learn something. I’ve been watching YouTube vids learning how to read a foreign language. I added a couple of Apps to my phone and an e-book or two to round things off. Inexpensive and fun. Will I continue into the spring? Does it matter? For now, my brain is getting into a whole different groove. (Some people love Duolingo.)
  2. Performances at colleges. I’m lucky that I’m surrounded by colleges. I’ve gone to wonderful performances of musicals filled with tap dancing to brighten the dreary weather days as well at holiday concerts and happy operas. And many are either free or low cost.
  3. Shredding paper. It may not be as fun or exciting as numbers 1 or 2, but decreasing the amount of clutter is definitely a mood lifter.

That’s all I have so far. What have you been doing to get through winter?

I’m Back!

  • February 25, 2019
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Trying to live off my iPhone was doable but also showed me how much I missed my wonderful computer. I had all these grandiose plans for it when it came back.

Now it’s back and I’m wondering what the heck to do. LOL

So, it’s Monday

  • February 11, 2019
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My computer is still in the shop but I’m heading over there in the next couple of days to take a look and hopefully approve the work. I never thought I’d miss Word so much.

Keeping fingers crossed that by next weekend I’ll be back to normal. 🙂

The Mysterious Missing Word Program

  • February 04, 2019
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Five years ago I bought a new iMac. I also bought Word (well, Office Suite, but Word was the most important program for me).

Last month, the internal hard drive crashed. Through the wonderful (really wonderful) efforts of Apple Support, I was able to migrate almost everything to an external hard drive.

That’s where it gets weird.

Although Word migrated, I couldn’t open it without the key code. I expected this. I had bought the one-use-only version, so the program thought I was trying to install it on a new computer. All I needed to do was input the key code and I’d be fine.

Except there was no proof anywhere that I’d purchased it. Not in my email, not in my Microsoft account online, and the wonderful store where I’d bought my iMac closed two years ago after 29 years (RIP Tekserve).

Apparently I’d been typing in a program that didn’t exist. I have no explanation for this. Of course, I’m going to buy it soon but will really miss my version. The new one isn’t thrilling me.

And there you have it, people. Ghosts exist in many forms.

 

 

No Blog This Week

  • January 21, 2019
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Out sick. Hope to be back next week.

Movie People—Stop Changing the Ending of the Book!

  • January 14, 2019
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SPOILERS for Mary Poppins Returns, you have been warned.

 

I understand taking poetic license with stories. And Mary Poppins Returns is not the same as the book Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P. L. Travers. A major difference is that the book continues the adventures of Jane and Michael Banks as children. For the movie, updating the premise worked.

But there’s one glaring change in the film that made no sense to me.

Happy New Year!

  • December 31, 2018
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May the coming year be filled with all good things! Also, LEARN from my mistakes. Back up your files! Through a slow and torturous process with truly excellent customer support I now have my files back but my computer is throwing a temper tantrum concerning the system upgrade. I’m typing this on my phone and will be making a nice pot of vegetarian Hoppin’ John for luck—um, I mean nutrition. 🙂

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