There are times when you just have to sit back and let the world pass you by or you can’t get to sleep. Bedtime is my time to grind teeth in angst. Last night my angst came from doing my taxes and contemplating the impossible presidency of Donald Trump. But relief finally came when I stretched my imagination to a probable diplomatic meeting between a newly elected President Trump and Kim Jong Un.
I imagined the conversation might go something like this:
Trump: So Kim Jong, son of Il, funny and appropriate name, by the way. You do look a little ill. Are you not feeling well, little man? And you are a little guy. (Turns and looks at Secret Service contingent standing behind him and addresses them- How am I doing? We sure are having fun aren’t we?)
Kim Jong: What you mean by ‘little guy?’ Be aware and hold your tongue big fat greasy American with strange orange squirrel on head. You are in the presence of Supreme God Leader President For Life Of Empire Of North Korea. Smelly barbarian only serves for 4 years and can be thrown out unless voted in next term. Kim Jong Supreme Imperial Choice Of God is ruler for life.
Trump: Maybe, but I’m a billionaire and big businessman. Little guy like you probably has a teeny weenie too…and no supermodel to bang every night. I love to see her on her knees. (Turns and winks at Secret Service. One gives him a thumbs up.)
Kim Jong: As Imperial Supreme Leader I can have anyone I want in my bed. Beautiful women, pretty boys, orangutans…who or whatever I want. Maybe you even get on your knees for me. Hehehehe! (Turns and waves to ten thousand soldiers standing at attention in the square. There is a thunderous click as they all bring their heels together and laugh on command.)
Trump: You think that’s so hot? I have new ICBMS that are so accurate they can give you a haircut…not that you need it with that dumb flat top. (Grins at bodyguards and nods. What do you think boys? Like the way I slid the BM in on him? I warned I was gonna bomb the shit out of him, now I can bomb him with shit. Good joke huh? Isn’t it fun up here? Secret Service remain motionless.)
Kim Jong: Looks like he’s texting. One of his officers comes over and bends his ear close, then nods as he turns and straightens up before walking away. Kim Jong waves at the military in the square who click their heels again. He turns to Trump and speaks — I don’t think you are so funny, and you won’t either when my first nuclear bomb hits Hawaii. I have ordered one bomb for each insult to the Holy Imperial Sovereign of Sacred Land Of Beauty.
Trump: Turns and motions to one of the Secret Service men. Man walks over, opens a case and displays it in front of Trump who leans over and fumbles around inside.
Man With Case: Mr. President, Sir, you have pushed the red button and entered the code for Pyongyang.
Trump: So? I’ve had enough of this dumbass kid. I’m going to bomb the shit out of him like I promised.
Man With Case: Mr President, we have to get out of here, and fast.
Trump: What’s the rush? It will take hours to get the bombs here from the States.
Man With Case: Uhhh, Mr. President. The nukes will be launched from a submarine just off the coast in the Yellow Sea only a few minutes away. Didn’t you read the briefing the Joint Chiefs gave you before we left?
Trump: I don’t bother with that shit. I’m smarter then all of those assholes, especially the fat assed broad who thinks she’s an Admiral. And what the hell is that whistling sound I hear overhead?
We could be so screwed!
Okay, you’ve written a book. You’ve gone through all the struggle of re-writes, edits, beta readers, workshops and the final pain of self-publishing, formatting and you finally push The Button to publish. There it is on Amazon or Nook or other e-book sites. Now what? It sits on the site for several weeks and you go back and check it. The book is now ranked #5,972,671 in Amazon Books. Not good.
Time to do some marketing. Any author will tell you marketing is akin to having a root canal but worse because it lasts until you quit. The first thing you need are reviews. From personal experience I will attest to a simple fact: the hardest thing an author can accomplish is to get reviews. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s almost impossible to get a reader to put a few words on paper and post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It takes time, and if they didn’t like the book, or were lukewarm about it, or if they’re a good person, they don’t want to hurt the author’s feelings.
I’m a retired attorney and business person who has spent the last ten years studying how to write creatively. Not easy to take those professions out of your words. In the course of this endeavor, I’ve attended many writers groups, conferences and workshops. I’ve run workshops on writing, both read and critique style, and free writing with prompts to expand creativity. Understanding how difficult it is to write any book has provided me with the utmost respect for those who take their craft very seriously and want to create a very good book.
Let’s consider the purpose of a review. It’s not to blow smoke up the author’s skirt. The object from the author’s point of view is to encourage people to read their book. But in fact, the true object is to advise the prospective reader of your opinion of the book.
Like all writers, I’ve been faced with this dilemma time and again and have evolved a few guidelines I now use for writing reviews.
To begin with, if the book rambles, is sloppy with bad grammar, misspelling, and punctuation in the first few pages, I don’t go further and won’t review. That said, if it is supposed to be written in a certain vernacular, I’ll go with it, if it is well done.
First I look at the actual pages, how dense the writing is, the amount of white space on the page. When I begin to read, I consider all of the following: story arc, pacing, word use, reader involvement, sentence structure, originality of concept, target audience, the writer’s command of grammar, spelling, sentence structure, word use, pacing and rhythm.
Next, am I drawn into the story? Are the characters well-constructed and do I care about them. Do they change and grow during the course of the book. Are they easily relatable? The response can be positive or negative as long as the characters are compelling
There are many excellent storytellers who may not be wordsmiths but draw the reader in and keep them going along for the story. On the other side of the page, some wordsmiths are so in love with their words the story is unimportant and gets lost in the description and word flow. My preference is a balance between the two, but if I only can have one, I go for story.
In the middle of all this is something I think of simply as ‘care’. Did the writer care enough about what they were writing to do it over and over again so it is as perfect as they can make it, or did they just slap it on the page as ‘good to go’? The mentality of ‘I wrote it so every word is perfect’, does not pass muster with me. Sorry, arrogance is reserved to the reviewer, not the writer.
The last thing I look for is polish. This is where grammar, repetition, sentence structure, punctuation, continuity, word choice, style consistency, and rhythm in both the actual reading experience and the storyline come into play.
When I receive reviews, my prime concern is if the reader enjoyed the book. Were they drawn in? Did they relate to the characters? In all my books, even though they have been edited, gone over time and time again, work-shopped, had beta readers, I pick them up once they are in print, and damned if I don’t find a typo or two. Pick up most of today’s best sellers and they are not perfect either. The day of the perfect edition is gone even in the big publishing houses. But I hope my reader feels I have done my utmost to provide the best reading experience.
If someone rates my books I am thrilled they have taken the time to do so. I do not get upset with a less than five-star rating. Some of my most honest ratings I’ve received have been three-star and I appreciated them for the reviewer taking the time to comment.
When I do my rating, I try to balance all of this with the final element: Is this book worthy of being read? Does it say something? Will it give the reader pleasure, is it enticing, exciting, romantic, humorous, informative, is it well written with care, does it follow a specific genre? Do I want viewers who take my words seriously enough to consider purchasing this book? When I write a review, my aim is to emphasize what appealed to me, why I thought the book was worthy. Seldom do I dwell on the shortfalls. Hopefully, the author will get what they are by the number of stars or lack thereof.
As a reviewer, I must feel I’m being honest. I can forgive some elements if, when finally putting down a book, I think to myself, ‘that was a good read!’
Here is my question of the day: how many selfies have you taken, or how often do you take a selfie and post it?
Here’s my own answer. I’ve done it twice. In forever. And I’m old. Once I took a selfie of my hands for a blog post. The other one I took because I wanted to promote a piece of jewelry I bought from a friend and love wearing.
I don’t get the obsession with selfies, or should I say the selfie-obsession. Is it an indication of insecurity? Are you posting now so you can remember what you look like at a particular time in life? Are you afraid you’ll forget? And where to they go, these selfie images? Do they sit in the cloud waiting to be resurrected fifty years hence when you want to see what you looked like in 2016 or are they ephemeral memories lost in the plethora of posts on a Facebook timeline?
And what about travel selfies? Every place people of a certain age now visit has a selfie with them standing in front of the place. Is that to prove they were there? In days gone by photos were taken on vacations for sure. But they might have one or two of the vacationer standing in front of the Taj Mahal or by the Ganges, the rest of the vacation photos are of sights seen and not to be forgotten. Not so today. The memory treasured is not of the view but of the person.
Maybe it’s good to have hundreds of photos of yourself. I have a few photos of how I looked over the years. The majority were taken for publicity purposes when I was in business and had no alterative. Others were with friends at events or trips. Mostly I’ve been camera shy, don’t like to have my picture taken. I don’t know why I have such reluctance, but there it is.
It is nice to see my younger face sometimes, especially after I look in the mirror at my now old one. But a few photos suffice. I can’t imagine sitting and looking at hundreds of images of myself from years gone by.
Think about this. The mind is a wonderful camera. It stores not only images but also the emotions and intellectual responses felt at the time. I see a picture of me with my late husband and it makes me feel happy all over again. There aren’t too many, neither of us liked being photographed other than with friends or at parties, but there are enough to relive the pleasure when I want. Somehow, if there were too many, I’m not sure the effect would be as powerful. But for certain, the emotions surrounding recorded memories are diluted by the obsession to take the pictures, removing oneself out of the moment of pleasure into the selfie mode of necessity to record. Maybe sometimes it’s better to just relax and enjoy the moment while you’re in it.
What do you yourselfie think?
Why are we worried about ISIS and terrorists? It had become an obsession to everyone but the Muslims. I’m speaking about the Muslims who are good family people, never want to kill anyone, love their wives and families. What they want is what we all want. A roof over our heads, a safe place to bring up our kids, a way to make a living. Security, in short. These are the people who should be worried about terrorists. They are the ones who will ultimately suffer the discrimination and harassment of those who see the effects of the terrorists.
With every attack we hear the same litany. “Islam is a religion of peace.” And then we have the next terror attack, but we also have little attacks like the man who beheaded his wife for filing for divorce, or the ones killing a daughter because she was raped. The determination to impose cruel Sharia law which promotes violence to women is alive and well in France and it’s practiced in enclaves in the USA and UK as well.
It is the Muslims who have to sweep their own house, to clean out the Imams who preach violence to their kids. To monitor what sites their kids go to on the internet, to teach them that violence to others is unacceptable. To prove to the world that Islam is really a religion of peace rather than just repeating the empty words. If there should be attacks on ISIS, it should be Muslim countries attacking, giving a clear message that they will not stand for this terrorist behavior.
But the response of the global Muslim community is pathetic and wimpy. I’m really not sorry if this is not Politically Correct. To release the vapid words, “Islam is a religion of peace” with giving of a little aid to families who have suffered is not acceptable. Do something! Speak out. Be vehement! Say you won’t stand for this. You are the ones who are going to be tagged with the label of ‘terrorist.’ The nice ladies in Bloomingdales and Macys wearing a head scarf or kaftan will be the ones suffering discrimination and abuse. The kids at schools and colleges in the US, UK, France etc. are the ones that will suffer discrimination. And that discrimination can breed more terrorism in a deadly circle of hate.
It’s time for Islam to call for actions by the countries who breed this problem and allow it’s propagation within their boundaries. Don’t just stand there and rub your hands. Doing nothing is a clear sign to the world that you consider the barbaric actions acceptable.
Muslim countries should take in the refugees who have suffered because of Muslim inactivity. Don’t send them to France, USA, UK, Canada, the countries who have also suffered from the terrorists. Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Emirates, Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Dubai, or Kuwait, to name only a few, should take them in. But mostly, they don’t want them. The Syrians are, after all, your brethren, not ours. Most of these countries can very easily afford them.
Let’s be clear, we have plenty of fanatics in the USA but we would still be very angry if, for instance, let’s make an example of Country X, who decided they didn’t like the attitude of US Evangelicals sending members convert people in Country X. So, X sends an attack force to bomb Oklahoma City where they heard these people were trained. It would take the USA a nanosecond to be, in the words of one presidential candidate, “bombing the shit out of them.” X has other alternatives. Throw the Evangelicals out. If the members of those religions in the USA don’t like that treatment, they are the ones to take action towards their people. They can insist they not piss off another country. You are a guest in that country and shouldn’t break their laws. So, to solve the problem, we could have a law in the USA that anyone who goes to another country to preach a religion and the country throws them out, has their passport revoked. Oh yes, now I can hear yelling about how much aid the church groups give in so many countries. That may be true, but they give at a price and the price is preaching conversion. Let them give aid and keep their mouths shut. True aid has no bribery attached.
So, back to Islam. I think we in the USA have two duties, first, throw out anyone who preaches terrorism. We have a history of trying to do such, “The Alien & Seditions Acts 18 US Code Sec.2385” which was repealed in the late 1700. More recently Rep. Jane Harman, D, CA, sponsored “The Violent Radicalization & Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007” which was passed by the House of Representative and not the Senate so it never became law. Essentially, the bill provided the tools to throw out anyone who preached terrorism or conspired to terrorist acts.
The only way to win the war on terrorism is not to fight it anywhere but at home. Our home. We need to take action against those within our borders who preach against our government or seek to commit terrorist acts only WITHIN OUR BORDERS or on US territory such as embassies or bases.Thorough checks for ANYONE coming into the USA from countries with a history of encouraging or giving sanctuary to terrorists, let’s call them THC or Terrorist Harboring Countries. Forget about political correctness. All people from THC must apply for a visa and have a waiting period during which a comprehensive security check is done.
Ban all sales of weapons within the US to anyone without a certain security clearance. This is easier than it sounds. Homeland Security already issues trusted travelers passes like Global Entry, Nexus and Sentri passes for easy entry in and out of the USA. The assumption is that we have been thoroughly checked to obtain them. Make them the criteria for gun purchase. It takes anywhere from three to six months to obtain the passes so there is an automatic waiting period.
All money going to THC should be frozen unless there is a waiver from a USA government agency who has once again checked both the source of the funds and the recipients. If the source of funding for terrorists is cut off, then they have no way to purchase arms or to get around. It is the world banks who are complicit in terrorism. They let the money flow freely without checks. Make them suffer penalties if it is found they are financing terrorists. Put the IMF in charge and make them culpable also unless they carefully scrutinize all money sent to THC.
The other thing is to get the hell out of Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. Let the surroundings countries of Islam deal with their terrorist brethren. To do anything else just keeps fanning the flame. If we withdrew all our troops tomorrow and said we weren’t coming back, it would take the wind out of ISIS’ sails.
Then make a conscious effort with all the in-country spy techniques already in place to track down the rabble-rousing Imams and terrorist group leaders in the US or outside. Get the cyber geeks on their trail, offer rewards to anyone who uncovers means of communication between them. Cheaper than sending troops on the ground or military supplies. Throw the bums out of the country.
As I write this, I know that it mightn’t have saved anyone in San Bernardino, the terrorist was a US citizen born here. Maybe the trusted traveler pass could have caught him. Probably had no criminal record. But someone must have gotten to him. They now think it was his wife. Time will tell. You can never catch all the fish in one net. Takes a while.
Oh, and as an aside, if you go back and look at the Alien and Sedition Acts, many of the Republicans in government today are guilty under those definitions.
My late husband was French. We spent so many wonderful times in Paris, enjoying the restaurants, wandering the streets, sitting at sidewalk cafes drinking in the beauty of the city and the elegance of it’s people. My heart is broken when I see the devastation and horror that the city has endured.
It was with great sorrow I have spent the last nights in front of the television watching news reports of the vicious attacks on the people of Paris. Only cowardly and psychotic people could plan such horrific acts. Could any religion or religious believers sanction this violence? If you believe in God, then you must believe God created all mankind. How then can you justify this kind of savage brutality against God’s creations? Time for the world to take serious notice and unite to put the rabid animals down.
The above was posted on facebook by me on the 14th November. A friend asked me if I saw the irony in my comment. Then I posted what follows as my explanation. To me, there was no irony, but I understood what he meant. Yes, I did understand the irony . . . if I was a religious person. But I’m not.
There is also hypocrisy and contradiction . . . (as well as irony). I am not a believer in an imaginary god. I believe instead in ethical realism.
What is real to me is that actions create reactions. The conquest of Spain by Islamic armies in 711 AD, and their subsequent occupation, began the process of creating centuries of hate. The crusaders invading the territories of Islam starting in 1095 added fire to the flames. Result: hate on both sides, wounds that never healed.
Islam proclaims itself a religion of peace and yet has a number of ‘sword verses’ within the Quran such as “ kill those who join other gods with God wherever ye shall find them; and seize them, besiege them, and lay wait for them with every kind of ambush”. But Islam is no worse than Christianity in the time of the Inquisition or any other time where non-Christians were slaughtered. After all, they learned from the Romans who killed the Christians, and so on throughout history.
As a student of history, I have come to believe that religion, at least an insistence on one god, has been the scourge of mankind for millennia. Belief in an invisible god allows man to interpret their god’s wishes in any way the interpreter chooses. It gives great leeway to vent all personal prejudices and hate.
I prefer the ethics of the pack. If a member of the pack is a danger to others within the pack, they are put down. The pack doesn’t need to know of they had an unpleasant childhood, if mummy didn’t love them, or loved them too much, or if they were on drugs, alcohol, or any way impaired. Millions of people each day have the same problems but have impulse control that stops them from performing unethical acts. The pack is clear: danger=death.
God’s messages as interpreted by psychotic humans through the centuries, have been used as permission let go of impulse control and express their hatred and anger as they wish. I say when people behave like rabid dogs dangerous to the pack they should be put down. It is an ethical argument to protect the many from the few. And it is very realistic in the conundrum of morality we are now faced with.
This is not the time for political correctness. It is the time for education, to understand the deep psychoses that underlie these age old problems and work from within to stop them and solve the reasons for their seductive growth.
I believe it is the problem of Islam, the pack from which these dogs come, to take care of the situation. Their pack, their job. If peaceful Islam wants the world to respect them, and not to lump them with the rabid, then it is time for their clergy, and their believers, to speak up and force their leaders to take action. The money to support terrorists comes from somewhere. If the funds are cut off, then organized attacks should fall off. This is a place to start. Countries who fund the rabid dogs should be shunned. Such action is not acceptable in world community.
Refugees pouring out of countries are not the answer to their misery. They just brings the misery with them to the places where they seek refuge. Staying home and solving the problem is the only answer. Change from this disaster has to come from within, before it is too late for all of us.