Lessons Learned: I don’t want a root canal

Last night my husband Mike was in pain. We had the sneaky suspicion that he needed a root canal. Neither one of us had experienced one before, but we know others who have had experienced it. While I went to work this morning, Mike went to his regular dentist and they checked out his tooth. They referred him to an endodontic specialist and said that the endodontic office would call him right back to set up an appointment. Mike waited in the vicinity in hopes that he’d get the call. The pain grew. He waited. The pain was intense. He called the dentist back. They said they’d call the endodontic office again. No word. Mike went home. He called me. Frustrated. In pain.

I then called the regular dentist to find out what was going on. I asked about the process and what options we had if we couldn’t get the endodontic office to call back. I found out that he could go to any endodontic specialist within the area as long as they took our insurance. Good to know. However, the dentist office said that they would try calling the endodontist again. If Mike didn’t hear back within 15 minutes then I should give them a call. The specialist called back. Mike wasn’t happy. The appointment was for tomorrow at 1:00.

In the meantime, I did my research. I looked up other specialists. I found one in the next town and his reviews were excellent. And they had an appointment for this afternoon. I booked the appointment for Mike. This afternoon he had his root canal. I couldn’t imagine being in pain for another 24 hours if he had waited for the other endodontic specialist.

Ohh-ohhh. Wait. Mike’s in pain again. The Novocain is wearing off. Specialist had given him Ibuprofen but that’s not enough. Killer, throbbing pain happening. Time for Tylenol 3. Let’s hope the pain goes away, and he doesn’t have to go back in.

Yep. Confirmed. I hope that I don’t ever need a root canal.

 

Lessons Learned: Reading Books as an Author

I love to read novels, and I have enjoyed reading hundreds of books throughout my life. What I didn’t realize, until recently, is how my style of reading has transformed in the last few years. I learned that I have different ways of reading books, a perspective that has changed since becoming a professional writer and author.

My boss from my full-time job was the one who got me thinking about this. He said that when he read my book “Gitana – Life Plan,” he could “hear” me tell the story. I didn’t think too much of his comment until a few weeks later when I started reading “Click. Date. Repeat.” by K. J. Farnham. I found myself doing the same thing. I read the book as if K. J. was telling me the story. Thinking back, I did the same for Tina Susedik’s book “Riding for Love.” Because I knew the authors, I could “hear” their voices as the narrator. I really enjoyed reading their books having that different perspective.

I then thought about books that I read because I’d met or heard the author speak at a local or national conference. Authors will provide their point of view on how to construct a plot or to give characters depth by using examples from their books. Later on, I’ll read the books to understand more on what they were referring to within those sessions. By doing this I can improve my writing skills.

Next, I’ll read books by major bestselling authors. I’ll read their books to find out why the novels became hits. Was it the action? The way the story was written? The characters? I read “Fifty Shades of Grey,” “Fifty Shades Darker,” and “Fifty Shades Freed” to understand why they were popular, especially after hearing the negative feedback about the books. I also wanted to read the books to see how E.L. James continued the storyline of Christian and Anastasia since my next writing adventure will be a trilogy. Could I have read the Hunger Games trilogy? I could have, but the Fifty Shades books had me curious.

And finally, which I’m pleased to say, is that I still have my old style of reading as well. I enjoy reading books by authors that I’m not familiar with. I’ll pick out the book by its cover, by the way the back blurb sounds interesting, and or if I’ve heard about the book from friends or in reviews. I’ll then snuggle in and read the story. I love discovering new favorite reads.

So which perspective do I like best? I like them all. I’m glad I have the variety.

Lessons Learned: Blogging and the Las Vegas Area

Last week I was on vacation in Nevada, just outside of Vegas. I soaked in the warm weather, blue skies, and wonderful sunshine. I discovered two things on this trip: it’s hard to write a blog when on vacation, and there’s more to Las Vegas than the Strip.

I have blogged before while on vacation. I will either write the blog and post it early (even the day before), or I’ll write the blog a few days in advance and then post on Monday night. This time I decided to write at the hotel and then post on Monday night. I was wrong to think that it would go smooth. I had issues with getting the internet connected, and my passwords weren’t working. Even so, I continued onward. I had a subject Freedom to Roam. I had what I wanted to say in my head. I began typing on my Microsoft Surface. After the first paragraph I looked up. Half the words didn’t make sense on the screen. Some words had no spaces between words. I went back to correct the errors, thinking that when I typed I had my fingers on the wrong keys. Nope. Still garbled and getting worse. Paying closer attention, as I tried again to type, I realized my keyboard wasn’t working. I snapped off the keyboard and then reattached it. I began typing again. Snap on and snap off didn’t work. Now that I was totally frustrated, I decided having a Monday off would be okay. I called it quits. My Surface went back into its pouch and stayed in my briefcase for the rest of the vacation.

Dude and Vegas M Jan Feb 15 009

The second thing I discovered on this trip is that Las Vegas has more to it than neon lights, gambling, and shows. We stayed off the Strip at a smaller, less expensive casino hotel. Our mission wasn’t  to spend time in the hotel but to see what the Vegas area had to offer. For our first day we visited the Desert Wildlife Refuge where my sister and her husband volunteer. I learned about washes (where land is washed away from mountain water) and the different birds in the area. We also went hiking in Red Rock Canyon National Park. I found out that a moderate trail is different in Nevada than in Wisconsin or Minnesota. Moderate trails for Nevada means climbing steep rocks and searching for the path, while in Wisconsin it means path is somewhat rocky yet still manageable. Even so, I loved every minute of it. I couldn’t believe the rock formations and how deep some of the canyons were. We also ventured to Death Valley. Grant it, Death Valley is in California, but it’s still in the area and was a day trip. Before our adventure, I thought Death Valley was a flat desert with one continuous road. Not so. We were driving through beautiful mountains. We took the Artist’s Palette drive and weaved our way round the mountains. I loved watching the colors change in the rocks. We were there at sunset, the best time of day. Before this trip, I would have had no interest in going to Death Valley. Now I can’t wait to get back and explore Death Valley and the other areas around Vegas.

My sisters Deb and Pam and Dean

My sisters Deb and Pam and Pam’s husband Dean

Random Takes: Pens

~I’m amazed how many times I write something on paper, set my pen down, and then two seconds later it disappears—nowhere to be seen. I usually have to find another pen in my holder to write with until I can find the other one again. Of course, I’ll find it underneath my leg (if I’m sitting on the floor) or under papers on my desk when I do finally find it.

~I always write my first draft of a story on paper. There’s something about pen and paper that makes a story personable. This is the same for my blogs. I first write them out by hand and then type into Word on my computer.

~I love finding super good pens. I love a smooth, fluid pen that takes little effort to use. If the ink fails so the words are hard to read or if the ballpoint scratches against the paper, I’ll get rid of it.

~I like to collect pens at the different writing/author conferences that I’ve attended. I’ll keep the ones that flow like satin ribbon (see above). The others I’ll pass on to family and friends, or I’ll leave them behind when I have to use one while out (restaurants, dentist offices, etc.). The pens may not be keepers for me, but I will pass them on to help other authors spread their word. By the way, don’t put inappropriate words on a pink pencil. Kids use pencils.

~Sometimes I’ll bring a few pens into work so I have something better to write with instead of the normal supplies available in the stockroom. I do have to be careful on what I bring in to work…just in case I forget to take it with me after a meeting. Anything with hot romance, steamy sex, or erotic threesomes written on the side of the pen wouldn’t be an appropriate for the workplace. One year I brought in sticky notes to use at my desk. I didn’t think anything of it until a month later when I really looked at the picture printed at the bottom corner of the notes. I had to laugh. I put the rest in my bag for home. Even though the picture was small, I could tell it was a half-naked man and a woman in cheeky underwear.

Lessons Learned: American Sniper

Wow. The movie “American Sniper” was intense.

I went to see the movie yesterday with my husband. I knew that I’d have a hard time watching parts of it. I knew that I’d get emotional. This movie gave me a different perspective of what our men and women experienced when deployed (on tour) to Iraq (or to Afghanistan as well). This movie had me think about my son’s experience when he was deployed. Even as I write this, I can feel my chest tighten with emotion. For me, the movie was powerful.

“American Sniper” is about Chris Kyle and his experience as a Navy Seal and being one of the most lethal snipers in U.S. history. The movie showed us what duty, honor, and to protect meant through his eyes. The story is also about the adjustment back home, Chris’s struggles between duty and family. How he had to learn to be with family again.

As I watched the movie, I thought about my son and wondered how he felt when deployed to Iraq (once) and Afghanistan (twice). What did he see? What did he go through? I remember his attitude after Iraq. How he was impatient, more angry, and distant when he returned home. I know war changes people. I understood my son would change. “The Hurt Locker” was another movie that showed us what war was like for EODs (those disarming bombs). My son, an EOD, watched the movie with us and explained what was “Hollywood” and what was real. The movie was intense as well. The “Hurt Locker” scared the crap out of me because I realized that this is what my son actually does for a living. However, I think “American Sniper” gave me a better understanding of the whole picture (the commitment through readjustment).

I would recommend seeing “American Sniper.” The movie reminded me of the sacrifices our men and women have given. How committed they are to serving our country. Very intense.

To Edit or Not to Edit

I belong to an email group for indie writers. Recently the group had a discussion about professional editing and whether or not it is important to hire an editor to review your story. With the changes taking place in how we write (no more cursive, text abbreviations), will it matter if our stories aren’t perfect?

Books have been professionally content and copy edited for many years. The goal is to have a polished book that is clean of errors. But how many times have you read a book and found one or two errors? If you do find one, you’re caught off guard for a second, and then you get right back into the story. And for those readers who finish reading a book in a day, do they really “read” the book or skim through it? Would they even find the errors?

Many of the members in the indie group thought that errors are acceptable based on today’s standards. In a new generation of abbreviations and less focus on proper English, the grammatical errors aren’t as noticeable. Of course, other members responded, as I expected, that if you want to be a serious published author then you must professional edit your work. What surprised me is that the majority, even a bestselling author, leaned toward the side that standards are changing.

So what is right? I think it’ll be interesting how books will be edited in the future. Look at how writing has changed from the old form of English to our current version. Wherefore art thou Romeo? Say what? If proper English is turning less than proper, what will become the acceptable norm? The English language continually changes, including how we write it.

When I finished writing “Gitana – Life Plan,” I had a few friends read through the manuscript for errors before I even sent it to a professional editor. I loved getting feedback and their suggested changes, because I wanted a polished book. For my blog, I don’t have anyone proofread my work. I probably should, having found a misspelled word in last week’s blog, but I’m not a stickler because I consider my blog normal, personal writing. I will do my best to catch errors. I know my grammar isn’t perfect. I will misspell words and not catch them. I hope my readers are forgiving.

So is it safe to say that there are different levels of published writing? Will we become more relaxed in how we publish books? Less formality? I’m curious to how the next few years play out.