Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Awful Adverbs

Adverbs have been vilified in writing courses, conferences, and circles. "Good writers do not use adverbs." Is that true? Has anyone observed the number of adverbs the classical writers, like Dickens, used? I think we need to be cautious of practically abandoning any part of speech. Writers should keep as many tools at their disposal as possible. Using adverbs does not make or break an author. However, the overuse of anything can be stumbling blocks to the reader, and that includes the same adverbs. 

Using similes in the place of adverbs can be good until the author stretches to find some comparison and comes up with some awkward simile that barely makes sense and causes the reader to stop and wonder. I think pulling the reader out of the story to consider the way it is written is a much graver transgression than using an adverb that keeps the story flowing smoothly.

Even worse and what I see more often is a writer using an adjective where an adverb is needed. "She tried to get to work as quick as possible." "The dog moved slow because of its broken leg." "Drive careful now." If it modifies a verb, adjective, or another adverb, it should be an adverb. Incorrect grammar is worse than using an "ly" adverb.

I read a blog this week that said telling has its place in writing. The writer explained that to keep from having a 600-1000 page book, it's best not to show everything because it takes much more page space. Some things need to be told quickly, while other things should be shown. I'm not sure I agree with this in its entirety, but I do in part. I feel the same about adverbs. Use a simile or some other method to say what you need to when it fits the story and keeps the flow going, but using a few adverbs won't bother readers. Just don't get carried away with them.

Monday, September 16, 2019

National Play-Doh Day

September 16th is National Play-Doh Day. The soft toy didn't begin as a type of modeling compound or art and craft material at all. In the early 1900s, it was used as a wall cleaner, especially to remove soot stains coming from fireplaces and stoves. At that time, many homes burned coal. which left a dark residue on the walls. Noah McVicker of Kutol Products, a soap maker based in Cincinnati, Ohio, had formulated the reusable putty-like cleaner at the request of Kroger grocery stores.

After World War II, however, many homes transitioned from coal to natural gas, and there weren't as many stained walls. Therefore, the demand for the pliable wall cleaner diminished. Joe McVicker, trying to save his Kutol company, discovered that a teacher was using the wallpaper cleaner for her students to make Christmas ornaments. He took the same ingredients: flour, water, salt, boric acid, and mineral oil and added coloring to sell it in the toy market.

Play-Doh was marketed as an educational tool in the Cincinnati schools in the mid-fifties. In 1956, it was introduced at an educational convention and picked up to sell in department stores. When major children's television shows advertised the product in 1957, Play-Doh's success was ensured, and it's been around ever since. In 2003, the Toy Industry Association put it on its "Century of Toys" list, a tribute to its long-lasting appeal.


Friday, September 13, 2019

 Mountain Experiences

I will lift mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help (Psalm 121: 1).

grew up with a mountain heritage. Five of my twenty Christian books are set in the Appalachian Mountains and three in the Rockies. (All profits go to a scholarship fund for missionary children.)  Every time I see a mountain, my spirit soars. My eyes move upward and the peaks seem to lift me high into the arms of God. I feel His presence everywhere in a special way. 

And it came to pass in those days, that he [Jesus] went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).

Jesus also liked to go somewhere like this and have time alone with the Father. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all recount instances when He did this. He prayed at other times, but He liked to find a special place to commune with God. We should, too. If you can, find an aesthetic place where you can appreciate His creation and focus entirely upon Him in praise and worship. Your prayers will take on a whole new meaning.

And when he has sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when evening was come, he was there alone (Matthew 14:23).

God speaks to each one of us differently according to our individual experiences and background. My mountains could be something else for different people — a flower garden, the ocean, the desert, an art museum, a park, a favorite fishing spot, etc. The important thing is to find somewhere or something to feed your soul and pull you into God’s presence. These special moments go beyond our meditation, Bible study, and prayer. They strengthen us for His service with a special touch.



Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Time-Told Tales for Audible

I am excited to announce that Time-Told Tales, Vol. 1 has just been released for Audible. When I posted the book to take auditions, I received numerous responses right away. I quickly narrowed it down to the top three producers, but then it became very difficult to choose between them because they were all good. In the end, I went with the one I felt had the smoothest delivery while varying his voice for the different characters and situations.

Time -Told Tales are the two ebooks, 
Roslyn's Rescue and Glenda's Gold,
combined. They are connected, and Roslyn and 
Asher are also in Glenda's Gold. These are retellings of two classic stories with the make-believe and magic taken out to make them more realistic and compelling. Readers are saying they read them quickly to see how the new story would play out, and they find the print book a page-turner. Hopefully, listeners will feel the same about the audio-version.

Since the book is set in Medieval England, I chose a British narrator. I'm excited about the Audible book Richard Smith has produced. His clear, easy-to-listen-to voice pulls me into the story every time, and I always look forward to hearing more. I think listeners will feel the same. Check out Time-Told Tales for yourself. Here is the link:


Monday, September 9, 2019

National Teddy Bear Day

September 9th is National Teddy Bear Day. Toymakers Morris Michtom in the United States and Richard Steiff in Germany developed the toy around the same time without knowledge of the other. The teddy bear has become very popular and is featured in stories, books, toys, songs, and movies. It is considered a toy icon.

The bear gets its name from President Theodore Roosevelt who was often called "Teddy," although he hated the nickname. On a bear hunting trip to Mississippi, some of the men in Roosevelt's group chased a black bear, clubbed it, and tied it to a tree so the President could shoot it. But Roosevelt refused, thinking it was poor sportsmanship to kill the animal while it was bound. Cartoonish Clifford Berryman of the Washington Post published a political cartoon of the incident on November 16, 1902.

Morris Michtom saw the cartoon, and it inspired him to create the "teddy bear." He made a mockup and sent one to the President asking his permission for the name. The toys became such an overwhelming success, Michtom founded the Ideal Novelty and Toy Company in New York City. Meanwhile, in Germany, the Steiff company made a bear from Richard Steiff's design and exhibited the stuffed toy at the Leipzig Toy Fair in March of 1903. Both of these early bears are sought-after antiques today, and the Teddy bear remains popular with nearly 1.5 billion being sold worldwide each year. They have become popular, not only with children but also with adults, especially for special gifts.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Abraham's Trust

Now the Lord said to Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land I will shew thee:  And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed. So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken to him.... (Genesis 12:1-4a),

Abram's father and all the people around him were idol worshippers. God told Abram to move his household to an undisclosed location that He would show him. If he did, God promised him great blessings. Abram did what God asked, and this would be important when it came to how Abram reacted to trials in the future.

By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son (Hebrews 11;17).

Abram or Abraham is called a man of great faith. An example of this is how he was willing to sacrifice his beloved only son by the wife he loved in order to be obedient to God. But Abraham's faith also included great trust in God. When God told him to sacrifice Isaac, he didn't deliberate about what he should do, pray lengthy prayers, or argue with God. The very next morning he arose early and went about doing what God had asked.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

You see, Abraham stood on the promises of God. He believed Isaac and his descendants would grow into a great nation. For that to happen, Isaac would have to survive. Therefore, Abraham believed that either God would provide a way not to sacrifice Isaac or He would raise the boy from the dead. Abraham had complete trust in the God who had been so faithful to him all through his life. Abraham not only believed in the God he served, but he chose to be obedient and trusted God for the outcome. May we do likewise.

... great is thy faithfulness (Lamentations 3:23).


Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Some Aspects of Audibles

Amazon Audibles are still a growing market. Although some of mine have done quite well, they still don't do as well on Amazon as my ebooks. However, there was a time when ebooks were also a growing market and didn't do as well as print books. That is no longer true. In the audio-video world, we live in, I think downloaded audiobooks will become increasingly popular. I have more and more people all the time who tell me they mo longer read any print books. They want to hear or see a story. We can lament this all we want, but it is becoming increasingly true.

I must say, I enjoy all forms of books. My enjoyment of audiobooks is partially what led me to put my books on Audible. I love to listen to a book while I drive long distances. I wouldn't walk my two miles a day six days a week if I didn't have my book to listen to. Once, I felt too sick to do anything else, even read, but I could pass the time listening to a good book. It helped get my mind off how I felt, too. I still read as many books as ever, but I've become quite a fan of listening to a good book as well.
I know several authors who have recorded a few Audible books but then quit - I presume because they didn't sell enough. I think this is a mistake. All it costs me to bring out an Audible book is my time, and there's already a good-sized fan base there. In addition, I feel sure this will only grow over time. In fact, I'm seeing more interest in them each day. I find both sides of it fun. I like listening to audiobooks, but I also like the process of working with narrators to produce them.