Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits: Cleaning Hacks

When I get on YouTube, it is a black hole for me. I jump from one video to another and spend hours. I try to not get on very often because I know my weakness.

But...

I did find a couple of great cleaning hacks videos.

15 Amazing Life Hacks For Cleaning Everyone Should Know

23 Most Unusual Cleaning Hacks That Work

I hope you find some useful new cleaning ideas.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits: The Gilded Age

Ah, the Gilded Age

That wonderful time of prosperity in the United States that was . . . When exactly? Why was it called  the "Gilded Age"? And what made it the "Gilded Age"?

I had thought that the Gilded Age was from around 1900 up to the Stock Market Crash of 1929, encompassing the glitter Roaring Twenties. Boy was I wrong.


The Gilded Age was the late 19th century, from the end of the Civil War to about 1900.

Why this term "Gilded Age"? In 1873, Mark Twain coined this term in his book The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today.

Gilded Age refers to the glittering surface of the time, but there was greed and corruption underneath that surface.

What made this the Gilded Age was the rapid economic growth, technology, government, and social change. Previously, Americans didn't want to behave or to be viewed as being anything like Europe. But with the advent of "new money" people being snubbed by "old money" people, some of the customs, behaviors, and view began to be adopted. At the same time, industry boomed creating some of this new money, and along with money and progress came corruption.

So that's the Gilded Age in a nut shell.

Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and on grandchild.




Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits: Editing

People often think that once an author types "The End" that their work is done. But it's not.

From the first word typed to the last, an author has learned so much more about their characters than what they knew when they began. This is generally true for both writers who plot everything out before they start and those who just sit down and write. It takes time to get to know the many aspects of your characters just as it takes time to get to know a friend. Intellectually knowing your characters ahead of time is different than seeing them in action and interacting with the other characters.

I just turned in the final draft of a novella and am now starting the final-ish revision of a novel that is due next week.

So what does it look like when I go through this final edit? I print off a copy of my manuscript and sit down with a colored pen in hand and a notebook to take notes as I go. I'll note people's eye and hair color to make sure I haven't accidentally changed those over time. I'll note places I need to mention something later in the book that got dropped or something that needs to be mentioned earlier in the book to set it up for later. I note secondary characters' name to make sure they are the same throughout and spelled the same. I note little things I want to add at another point in the story but don't want to hunt it down so I can keep reading.

I will read through this print copy several times depending on how much time I have. I like to read for one specific thing each time I read through it. One time, I might focus on dialogue, another the setting, another wardrobe, another flow, etc.

When I've put all my changes and correction into the computer copy, I read through it again for typos. Then off it goes to the publisher and my author's work is done. Not.

The content edits come back from the editor that I have to go through and fix stuff throughout the manuscript and make revisions to make the story more readable. After that there is the line edit stage and the galley proofing stage.

So from beginning to end, I probably read each page 8-20 times.

Whew!


Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and on grandchild.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tidbits: KODAK

It's funny how we can get something in our heads we think is true but isn't.

For as long as I can remember, I always thought that the Kodak Eastman company was a merger or two different men coming together to form this company. Nope.

In 1887, George Eastman created a box camera that was so easy to use that anyone could take their own pictures. He named this first camera KODAK. He wanted something made up, that you wouldn't find in the dictionary, so that the name wouldn't be associated with anything else but his camera.




The first KODAK camera was "so simple anyone could use it." It had a string to pull to cock the shutter, a button to release the shutter and snap the picture, and key winder to advance the film inside one frame. The camera came with a roll of paper film to take 100 pictures. When the film was all used, the whole camera was sent to the KODAK factory where the film was developed, pictures printed, the camera reloaded with film to be sent back with the pictures. The advertising that went with the camera was "You press the button, we do the rest."



Award-winning novelist MARY DAVIS has over two dozen titles in both historical and contemporary themes. She is a member of ACFW and active in two critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty years and two cats. She has three adult children and on grandchild.


Thursday, April 13, 2017

Debt

By Darlene Franklin

For my Pony Express date-in-history, I chose April 3, 1986, the date the U.S. National debt hit $2 trillion dollars. $2 trillion doesn’t look all that bad. Let me spell that out with zeroes: $2,000,000,000,000.00.
In 2017, we’re used to the national debt climbing. We can go to a website like http://www.usdebtclock.org/ to find out what the national debit is at this second (over $19 trillion). However, the debt rose and fell during most of the 20th century. The 1980s were a period of growing debt, due to tax cuts and military spending.
            The debt reached a low point in 1974, under Richard Nixon, but has increased steadily since then (except until Presidents Carter and Clinton.) The 2007-08 financial crisis led to the exponential growth in recent years.
I chose the unpleasant topic of debt because my heroine’s father ran away from a gambling debt—and kept running. He keeps hoping that the next game will enable him to return home with honor. The Gambler’s Daughter, in The Pony Express Romance Collection, chronicles the end of that battle and the start of a new one—I won’t tell you more, to avoid giving away the story.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tidbit: Tipping

Most of us--me included--think of tipping as very American. But it's not.

Before the Civil War, American's didn't tip waitstaff, porters, bellhops, etc. It wasn't until after the Civil War that new-money people traveled to Europe and saw this practice there. These new-money people brought tipping back with them. They did it as a way to show off that they knew European customs and to flaunt their wealth.

Some in society felt this was a very un-American practice. From before the time of the Revolutionary War, Americans tried hard to be nothing like their European ancestry they had broken away from.

Late in the nineteenth century, organization arose against tipping. Two of them are the Anit-Tipping Society and the Society for the Prevention of Useless Giving. These groups felt that tipping widened the gap between the "Haves" and the "Have-nots." That it demeaned those of a lower income. That it did more harmed than good.

I can see how this could be viewed as harmful when used poorly. One example is railroad companies who would "hire" newly freed slaves who would work for tips only so the railroad wouldn't have to pay them. I wonder how many people never tipped them because of their skin color. I imagine a lot.

After further research on current tipping practices, I'm not sure if I'm for or against "tipping." I didn't realize until a few years ago that there is a "tipping minimum wage" that is between two and three dollars in most states. The rest of the income for these workers is expected to come from tips. I always thought that the tip was above and beyond a normal wage. It's sad that this isn't the case. That sounds un-American to me.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Martin Luther King, Jr

The Pony Express – And Martin Luther King, Jr. - By Pegg Thomas 

To celebrate the release of The Pony Express Romance Collection, we're highlighting the date the first Pony Express run began –April 3rd – and looking at other dates in history to see what happened.

On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his last speech. In that speech, he asked if God granted him his choice of time period to live in, which would he choose? Dr. King suggested several time periods, including this one:

"I would come on up even to 1863, and watch a vacillating President by the name of Lincoln finally come to the conclusion that he had to sign the Emancipation Proclamation."

The Pony Express was of vital concern to President Abraham Lincoln. He feared that California might enter the Civil War and side with the Confederate States of America. The Pony Express filled a much-needed communication gap until the telegraph lines could be stretched from coast to coast. It was one cog in the war machine that eventually ended slavery in these United States.  [tweet this]

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By Pegg Thomas
Wyoming Territory - August, 1861

She ignored the boot that shoved against her ribs. The next shove came with more force, and Alannah Fagan let a groan escape her swollen lips. Only she knew it was a groan of rage, not pain, although there was plenty of that.
“She's alive.”
She forced herself not to flinch at Edward Bergman's guttural voice. It was better they thought her still unconscious. They wouldn’t bother to care for her, so she’d have a chance to escape once darkness fell.
“Leave her.” Hugh Bergman's voice rose from the direction of the camp. “She'll come 'round by mornin'.”
“Might rain tonight.” Edward's voice carried no hint of concern.
“Then she'll get wet.” Hugh Bergman’s held even less. He may have married her ma, but he was no stepfather to her or her brother. “Whatever she put in the pot looks done. Come eat.”
Edward shuffled to the fire. More steps announced that his older brothers, Carl and Arnold, joined them. The scent of scorched salt pork and beans brought Alannah a slender thread of satisfaction. The clatter of plates and spoons, an occasional grunt from one of the men, the stomp of a horse's hoof came from behind her. Whoosh of an owl overhead. Clicking of insects. Rustling and murmurs as members of the wagon train settled down for the evening.
Where was Conn? Her brother had left to fill the canteens at the creek right before...before Hugh’s fist had knocked her unconscious.
Alannah eased open her right eye. The left refused. Pain radiated from her left cheek, engulfing that side of her face. Careful not to move more than she must, she inched her head off the ground to peer above the prairie grass. The creek lay a quarter of a mile or so ahead of her. Their canvas-covered wagon was parked behind her in the large circle they formed each evening.
The sky darkened until she couldn't see the willows along the creek anymore. The night sounds swelled and overtook the noise of the wagon train. A sentry walked past on his circuit. If he saw her, he didn't pause. The whole wagon train would know what had happened by now, but nobody would confront Hugh Bergman. Not since he'd beaten the wagon master half to death over a senseless dispute about where to camp one night. Now her stepfather ran the wagon train, ruling it by fear.

--> Pegg Thomas lives on a hobby farm in Northern Michigan with Michael, her husband of *mumble* years. A life-long history geek, she writes “History with a Touch of Humor.” When not working on her latest novel, Pegg can be found in her garden, in her kitchen, or on her trusty old horse, Trooper.

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