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Monthly Archives: May 2013

flash fiction contest with real prizes

Meet Micheal Brookes. He is the author of “The Cult of Me” and “Conversations in the Abyss” and has been featured and interviewed on my y1 blog here and also on my z2 blog here. He has started a contest for flash fiction writers on his own blog and has asked me to help spread the word. He is handing out real prizes (that is, Amazon gift cards) for those who can produce the best stories of 500 words or less based on a photo.

Interested? Click here.  If you let me know that you did, I’ll watch for your entry and give you a little extra publicity myself if you win.

 
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Posted by on May 26, 2013 in other authors

 

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And the winner is …..

trouphyOpen the envelope.  Award the trophy. Quickly commend the losers who participated and thank the spectators and the organizers. Then, cut to the interviews with the winner. We get background pieces for color, and praise from the experts.  Finish it all off with a final shot of the victor or victors waving their prize with the stark joy of success etched onto their faces.

We love the formula, whether it involves singing or acting, playing tennis or hockey, driving a race car or riding a race horse. We love a winner. We hate to lose.

The man I share my life with doesn’t write fiction like I do, or create in any of the more conventional senses of the word. Rather he puts his creativity into how he lives. Almost every day brings some new idea that leaves me wondering, how did he think of that? Clearly, I like this about him.

One of his most recent ideas involves three letter words. There aren’t so many of them and he is on a search to find the most meaningful and thought provoking three letter words in the English language. He’s got folks making lists and arguing for their favorites. He and I are on a road trip right now, electing to turn an eighteen hour drive into a three day journey using back roads and having leisurely nights. Our conversation in the car is better too and he announces that he has thought of a new one, and it is one of the best yet.

I know exactly what he is talking about, and he challenges me to think of it.  It begins with the letter “t” he says.  Okay. Top. Good one but no.  How about try? Better, but no. Tug?  He likes tug, thinking that sometimes we all need a helpful tugboat to keep us in the deepest part of the channel as we come into the bay and head to the harbor. But tug isn’t the word either.

I’m starting to get frustrated.  I hate losing these little games even if they’re silly and I’m only playing against him or myself. So he insists on giving me another clue. The word has two vowels. Well that certainly narrows it down. Too? Tea? Tau? Tie?  I’m not getting a lot of deep meaning out of any of these.

necktie“Tie,” he says. “It’s a great word. Think about it.”  I’m thinking. My mind goes to tying up your livestock and moves on to fifty shades and finishes off with uncomfortable men in neckties. Really?

“Think about it,” he insists. “A contest without a winner and without a loser. A tie. We used to have them in football, in lots more sports in fact, but over the years we’ve added overtime and tie-breakers everywhere because no one likes the idea that this particular time around nobody won.”

I get it. It’s wonderful when you or your side wins. Even losing can bring renewed determination, new strategy, better training. But maybe we could use  a few more contests that end in ties. Aren’t concepts like “nobody did significantly better than anyone else” or “these two did here did equally well” concepts worth embracing too? I think that they are.

So, of course, is the knowledge that not everything is a contest, and the wisdom that not every contest matters. In truth, we’ve got win, lose or draw, and we’ve also got “didn’t bother to keep score” and the ever popular “Huh? We were playing a game?”  Each one of those deserves its own place in the grand scheme of things. Maybe especially the last one.

(It looks like I am fond of this title …. I used it on my blog for the novel z2 back in February and forgot all about it! Check it out here to see the same title go a whole different direction.)

For some additional thoughts about when natures grants a tied score, visit my z2 blog for my latest post here. And for a few later thoughts on the merits of a close game please visit my y1 blog here.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2013 in oneness

 

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small world shrinking

I’ve been interviewed and x0 has been reviewed by two fascinating young women from India, who ask great questions and make excellent points in their review.  Please check out their blog “The Pensive Phoenix” here.

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in x0 elsewhere

 

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And the object of the game is ….

india school busI’m giving some thought today to negative stereotypes associated with India, particularly those held by my fellow citizens of the USA. There are plenty, let’s face it. We paint a comic insult cartoon of every other nation on earth, although some caricatures, like the stuffy Brit, do imply a bit of fondness. I wonder if every other culture does the same. I think I am going to go with yes on this one, and guess that all caricatures of us are not that fond either.

Several years ago a good friend of mine was told his job was being outsourced to India.  The friend is an electrical engineer who spent years writing in machine code to tell your car’s more intelligent parts exactly how to behave. It was a high level skill and he was very good at it, but he was told that his company had a found a kid in India who would do the job at a fraction of the cost and, as his last assignment, my friend was to train his replacement. Yeah right. Guess I’m just not going to remember a whole lot to teach him, my friend laughed. I sympathized.

And then, he started to talk to the young man, who turned out to be smart, eager and happy beyond belief to have gotten this job.  It was going to make him one of the richest people in his village.  One of the most successful members of his family ever. He and everyone he knew were rejoicing at this incredible good fortune. So of course my friend started to remember more and more to teach him, and before he was done he had passed along every trick and shortcut he knew. The young man was so grateful and once he took over my friends job I’m told that he was very good at it.

So was my friend successful, or not? That depends on how you define success. Remember board games?  The directions always started out with “The object of the game is……” Surely I’m not the only person who has wished that real life came with such clear information. If the object of your game is to make as much money as you can, as easily as you can, then my friend failed.  And, let me add that if such is your object, you should consider something other than writing self-published novels. They are exhausting to write, they take forever, and you can probably count on a few dollars a month in return.

india mapBut what if success is having a more interesting life? Learning things you never knew you never knew? I firmly believe that the internet has brought the world together in ways we are just beginning to understand, and it has done this for anyone who gets online. But writing and self-publishing three novels has taken this to a whole new level for me. I now share ideas and information with readers and fellow writers in a global community that would have astounded my seventh grade self, a girl who could barely contain her excitement at being allowed to study world geography. Today, copies of my three books exist in over twenty countries. I’m pleased beyond belief.

And later this week, I’m going to be interviewed on a blog written by two young women in India. I’ve done a fair amount of such interviews already, but this one is different because I didn’t go to them. They found my book, read my book, liked my book, and sought me out. All the way from India. Is that cool or what?

The young woman I’ve been corresponding with works as an instrumentation engineer and she also has aspirations to write. She wondered how I manage to raise a family, have a technical career and find time to be an author. I told her that I didn’t manage all at once, rather the writing started once the kids were older and job demands lessened. I offered advice on any of the above if I could ever be of help. I suspect that she has plenty she could teach me as well.

Did I mention that my my friend the electrical engineer learned quite a bit from the young Indian man he instructed? Well he did, of course, for in the best of circumstances knowledge flows two ways. Not every outsourcing story ends so well, but in my friend’s case his employer was so impressed with the job that he did training this kid, and with the new skills he picked up while doing so, that they decided to keep him on also. He trained a few others for them and then he went back to happily writing machine code, using all he had learned to his advantage. Your car may run better because of his story.

So what’s the object of the game? Some days I think I know, other days I’m not so sure. But I am am pretty certain that my friend’s story is a success story, in more ways than one. And I do know that I gained far more than I hoped for when I picked up my laptop and started to write my first novel. If gaining more than you hope for isn’t success, what is?

 
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Posted by on May 11, 2013 in empathy, x0 elsewhere

 

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