Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas Attitudes

It is that time of year again, that many people look forwards to, all year long, and they start as soon as Christmas Day is over, before the year is done. It's an infectious time of anticipation, and expectation of good times, good food, presents and gifts, of receiving and giving, of being generous, of being invited to parties; and just that winding down to the last day, New Year's Eve, December 31, when a New Year will spring into being; whether a new start or a continuation of more of the same, depends upon the mindset of each person.

I know that Economic times have been hard for a good majority of people in the USA as well as in Europe and other places, and even Japan has had it's hardships due to Tsunamis and earthquakes that have hit there in recent months and brought them huge losses, although they aren't normally ones to celebrate Christmas, unless they are of the Christian faith. I mentioned them to illustrate how the world has left no one untouched by natural disaster devastation, that brings people to a state of poverty or neediness, they may have never known previously. Natural disasters show neither mercy nor partiality; there is no one exempt, when it hits; everyone suffers on the same level. It is a time when the people must contemplate their losses, and realize, in life, nothing should be taken for granted, for what you have one minute to brag about, in the next minute, it could disappear as fast as it takes to blink your eyes.

This occurred here in America, with the Hurricane Sandy that hit the East Coast which also was followed on its heels by a blizzard of massive proportions, and many states which had never known such flooding and damage, lost their power for weeks; yes, even New York City went dark...and this happened, in blizzard temperatures; with thousands homeless, and crying out for help, while the Government was mainly concerned with the campaign for who would be sitting in the President's seat the next four years: the incumbent or a Republican named Romney? The race was on, and the east coast went black, while the highest water levels ever recorded, climbed skyward, in several states, from Maine to the Carolinas. Obama was at the helm, and declared, "FEMA WORKS FOR ME." And angry, worried citizens, by the thousands, having lost all, but their lives, cried out, "Why are we forgotten?"

Katrina was bad...Sandy might just be badder. Billions in losses has been estimated, and landmarks that had withstood years of storms, was washed away in an inkling, in the dark. Recovery will take years; many things that once was a thing of solid foundation, met its match and was blown away, and will never be seen again. Yes, people died, and their loss is a hole in the hearts of those who survived; the survivors will feel, years in the future...they never quite recovered, even if their lives finally get back on track and improve; some things are so damaging...to the soul...you can't quite mend it back whole again; it will always be knotted in a lump in that section of the fragment of their life's mantle...(God's eye, or his angels,' will know how to read it, not a word will need to be said.)

Now, it is two weeks until Christmas, a time many think should be mainly focused on the children. The little ones have needs, so many needs. A warm home, a cozy bed, nutritious food in their tummies, a loving family, decent clothes and personal hygiene kept up so as to maintain a healthy body. They need their education given the attention it needs, so their learning is on a par with others their age, and they need recreational activities that are safe and fun. All basic, standard needs every child the world over should have, and it should be a given...but this is far from being a given; or even in an equal amount.

Some children receive all and more than they need, because they come from a family that can afford the prices to give them the best. Others have enough to be comfortably off, though they would not say they were 'rich'; others are in the 'working class' and their kids are seen to, and maybe see some benefits, if they can win scholarships or have some Sports talent that will get them into a better situation than their parents had. And then, there are the people who have been raised in families that struggled, for generations, to make ends meet; and they live in houses or shacks or shanties that basically is just a roof over the head; it may leak and pour rain inside that is collected in buckets, and the holes in the walls are stuffed with newspaper waxed down with candle drippings to break some of the chill wind that blows during the winter months. They either have a rattle-trap vehicle they drive, or nothing at all. They may live in trailer courts; and are labeled everything from 'poor white trash' to 'rednecks' or hillbillies' or hicks,' or they may come from ghettos, or other sections, in big cities, where a number of blocks are sealed in as being that of a certain group;...and oh, yeah, dude, you better leave them alone, because their youth have gangs, and take territorial upset at anyone who crosses their boundaries unwelcomed; and hardly anyone is welcome.

People get set in their ways, dislike change and will fight against it. Maybe it takes a natural disaster to end some things that would continue, indefinitely, if not for something that is out of 'their' control. It is a sad state that life is hit with such a blow...but it comes as a wake-up to many, who find their lives irreversibly twisted from what they had been comfortable in for many years, maybe for generations with no change.

Yes, now, here at the end of 2012, thousands are recovering from the greatest blow of their lives. They must start from scratch and they feel lost, worried, tired and sick at heart, and angry, because they had no choice in the matter. It happened; it bit hard; and it stripped them naked, and they have waited for weeks for help to come to them...and though, maybe a little came along, for some of these misplaced survivors, depending upon  where they lived...they will feel bitter, years from now for their patience and their hope took a nosedive in the rubble of their former foundation which had been so deeply rooted and yet was yanked loose like carrots pulled from sand. It is a good bet, several of these folk, recalling memories of this time, will speak angrily, ten or twenty years from now, recalling the suffering and the loss of hope they once endured.

Will these people have a decent Christmas, this year? It is highly unlikely. And depending on their level of glass half full or half empty attitude, will also mark their ability to find joy in the field of misery they find their tent pitched. A lot will give up, and say..."My kids, grand-kids...they will not have anything from me. I can't get them anything." They won't make the effort; this is sad, but many people will sit back, with folded hands...they won't even have much of a hug to offer their little ones. They've let their circumstances break them, and they forget that it is the kids they need to 'break down walls' if they must, to see that child is not neglected.

A grandma who says, 'I can't get my grand-kids anything'...is admitting defeat...but also a laziness that they won't lift a finger to find a way to give that child who loves them and looks up to them something from Grandma, Meme, Mama, Granny or whatever else she is called by her grand-children. Why are they thinking it 'must be' some, expensive, store-bought present?

 And can they honestly say, they don't see any money come their way? Money that they could spare one dollar for each child, and go to places like Roses, or Big Lots, or maybe to Dollar General, or  Dollar-Tree and other stores, where every item in the store is one dollar, or if used items are acceptable, go to the Goodwill, or Salvation Army, or thrift stores; or if their 'pride' allows it, even to search out places that have free toys, as with the organization, Toys for Tots...or to Good Samaritans, or the Red Cross, or maybe churches, who have taken up donations...there are so many ways to see that your child doesn't go for want or need. But the number one gift every child looks for, and will be happiest of all to get, is Grandma and Grandpa saying, "I love you, baby; you're my precious gift. And I gift to you all my love."

Yes, the world is in a sorry state, and many are suffering and trying to better them-selves and get out of the muddy ditch life has tossed them...regardless, how they got there, and it's hard to get back on your feet, but you can do it.

However, saying..."I can't"  and  it not be about being generous...to 'strangers', but it's their own flesh and blood and hope for the future...they are denying? Why, in Heaven, are they expecting 'strangers' to have pity on them and help get them out of that hole they're in; when they won't give a child, even, a candy cane, with a card saying 'Merry Christmas, love, Grandma.'

Come on... Get up and do something, (make something and give as a gift, if you can't spare any money on buying something.) And when others see you're doing what you can, they will come help you get to where life isn't so harsh. Think of the children; don't be selfish. Get a backbone and stick up for your family. Quit whining and show that love...then you'll leave those children with some 'good' memories that hopefully will outweigh all the bad they've had to suffer through. Won't that be more satisfying?

Monday, August 20, 2012

In Response to blog post by SP Mount's Precipice of an alternate plane

Thank you for sharing this revelation of you, your life, your perspective on life, people actions. Some of this, I knew from other writings you've shared about your past, some were new insights; and though you are European born and I am American born, there are parts of this I can relate to; and you know that I'd say that; it won't surprise you...one reason I find you someone I can share parts of my life, very few outside of a small number have any clue about; not having had too much bravery to reveal that oddness, except maybe in autobiographical spurts of poetry, a few longer bits of memoir laced vignettes or essays, or maybe disguised as a short story, which you told me once is a way to tell the truth that no one would believe but as a story thought to be fiction is accepted as wild imagination. I really hate to let some of the bizarre things in my life be chaulked down by readers as a fabrication; there goes another similarity between us, a total dislike of falsehoods and lies; one reason I don't find anything amusing in a joke that passes itself off as reality and I'm standing there asking 'is this real or one of your jokes' or asking another who is present, 'is that true?' hoping I can get an honest response from that one, at least; and then being told I can't get a joke, which I say 'no, not when its hits me as a lie, nothing funny there, not to me.'
But you know I love a good laugh, nothing better, and you usually tell the good kind that are really funny and I have no problem seeing the funny in them, and in fact, on more than one occasion, I've read something funny you wrote that had me laughing till the stitch in my side pained me into silence, only to burst out chuckling a few minutes later recalling the piece, and then, read it later and still find it hilarious; now that is a gift.
Yes, thinking outside the box can be a good thing as well as a bad thing; some few have that unique ability to be outside the box looking in, and getting in can be a problem because of that strong desire of not wanting to be 'one of the crowd' and seeing what others find so appealing, instead see as totally disgusting, repugnant, distasteful, not attractive or desirable and wondering why they find it so damn great and knowing they will regret it later they had been such fools; but knowing at a young age, it wasn't for me and losing friends because I wouldn't do what they did; why should I, finding so much else to keep me happy and content and never missing that activity, being as my life was so full with things no others did; except it was what my family lived daily; interacting with parapsychological activities, and cryptozoological meetings, as well as earth/space connections; and this spread over several home places, and many years, which gave us credence in believing we had a touch to reach into realms most others couldn't.
You said your first memory was at age four; standing down your dad, refusing to obey an order that you knew was wrong and would plague you the rest of your life, if you had; good memory. I thought of that age in comparasion to mine and how much I would have missed if that had been the age my mind kicked in and started allowing me to remember my life; instead mine begun at 6 or 7 months old, a vision of a woman that I knew was not my mother, yet how I knew this I can't say, but it was my mother's own mother, Granny, holding something that both swung and glinted in the light. That winking light, I think was what did a double duty, causing me to pay attention, catch my eye and start my mind doing its cataloging of events I would remember the rest of my life. A crucifix, silver; she put it around my head, again, triggering a sensation of feeling cool metal and its weight upon my baby skin as I lay in the wicker laundry basket. Her smiling, then stepping back so I saw the blue sky and a bird flying away...that took my eyes off into nothingness and a few days passed before the next memory...and then more at the next place we moved; and many more, so that by age four I had a fair accumulation of memories from Gold City, Morris Street, and then in Henderson, Ky, at Mrs. Melton's, and then Payne's and then N. Alvis St...and there we stayed awhile, age 3 and 4 was spent there...and that was just the start.
Many things come to mind, just saying this bit...would people believe it, if I shared it? It's been iffy in life when I dared share...I've lost friends just by the fact they said it was more than they could wrap their minds around; so hence, my desire to be reticent in sharing my real life with others, because I'd rather write truth as truth than give in to my life being thought a fabrication; those who know me, know my straight forward, honest approach and literal outlook, expecting truth from others, because that's what I give them, but being disappointed, because most prefer to live a fake life, hiding behind makeup and false airs, and me, I am who I am, take me as I am or leave me, just pass on by, if you can't take me for who I am, yes, a Kentuckian who some say I'm simple, but who seem to miss that I am diamond faceted and wear many hats and am far from lazy, though some have called me that, because what I do isn't their idea of being busy. Those kind have never made it on my friends list, nor would I want them there.
 And yes, lonely is something a writer needs; and watching others has always been my forte; I'd rather watch people than go window-shopping; and thinking about the lives these people have, many ideas for stories or characterizations have come to me that way.
So, reading your blog here, brought from me this response. You always spur me on to think, and I'll always have you in high regard and am glad Destiny brought us to the same writing site within a few days of each other. There is a higher power that knows just what we need...and even the most dedicated lone wolf, needs others of like mind...upon occasion. Thanks, Stephanwolf.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Getting Published On Smashwords; Piece of Cake?

Being published on Smashwords in eBook form is both an exciting and a daunting event.
I will say right out, it isn't an easy thing to do, getting the manuscript to fit the requirements, well it is a different ball-park than it is with traditional publishing. Just when you think you know the correct format, you find out, eBook publishing just about throws all that formatting biz out the window...you don't have to number the pages, you can choose to have a 5 space indent, or not and go with block format, but not both.
Tabs and space-bars are a no-no...those trusted keys on your keyboard are actually the reason why you find your format going out of whack over and over again!

On top of all that, unless you follow the smashwords style guide, you'll
find meatgrinder rejecting your baby and more work to do. It can be a
headache, and time consuming, and exhausting, and yes, if you know
anyone who has already made that journey through the fire and made it out the other side, you will be begging your friend to please help by giving pointers...I was lucky enough to have such a friend and I thank you, again, SP, you're the best. And true, you said, go back to the Style book, it says it best...and that's what I pass on to any other struggling
author who reads this blog, if you find something hard and you can't figure it out; stop, breathe, rest, and when you feel up to it, go back and re-read it till you succeed. It'll be worth it, to take a look at the published work and see it meets expectations.

The only thing I met with a note for modifications was about my links, which was what I found the hardest to do and what I asked for help with from S.P. My note said 'to be included in the smashwords catalog, there couldn't be any links to kindle or mention of kindle published works'; so I had to remove those in the Days Were Shattered Dreams copy. This alerted me not to make the same mistake in The Light of Day, which I had been aiming to publish. So I fixed both, and got them up, which along with 2 other eBooks, Dead Man's Fingers, and Little Moon and the Spirit Animals, makes four eBooks, published on smashwords; three of the four are written by two authors, not one; J.D. Couch and Jerriann Law. The fourth eBook is Dead Man's Fingers, and is written by Jerriann Law. It might be, since Dead Man's Fingers was the first book published, this could explain why smashwords is only recognizing one author, even though both names are clearly on the book covers and it says we are partners, and a 'writing duo' it doesn't give J.D. Couch any credit on his smashwords profile as being an author of any books on smashwords.
 Not sure if other authors who have partners are having this same problem; but for the author not mentioned it is frustrating, and that is understandable. We all like to have our due credit given when we accomplish something like this; that's one reason I'm writing this article. If anyone can suggest how this can be fixed or changed, please comment, below and thank you;
Jerriann; the editor, illustrator/book cover designer and co-partner with JD Couch.