Friday, May 27, 2011

A Traditional Memorial Day

Traditionally, Memorial Day is set aside for all Americans to remember the men and women who died while in service to our country. The day, variously known as Decoration Day and Poppy Day, was officially proclaimed by General John Logan. It was first observed on May 30, 1868 when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery. Now, small American flags are placed at each of the more than 260,000 gravestones.

On January 19, 1999, Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye (a decorated war hero of WWII introduced a bill which proposed to restore the traditional day of observance of Memorial Day back to May 30th instead of "the last Monday in May." To date, this has not occurred.

This year, however, May 30th falls on the last Monday in May and Memorial Day will be observed on the traditional date. Another easily followed tradition is to observe a moment of silence at 3pm (1500 hrs.) your local time in honor of those who have died in service to our country. 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Photo Ops and Toasts

Today is the official start of my "Ravens With Writing Desks" critque group, a subgroup of Guppies, which is a subgroup of the National Sisters In Crime. Five of us writers have manuscript WIPs (Works In Progress) that we will  submit, chapter by chapter, for critiques, suggestions, and comments. Given a choice, I'd select this as one of the most beneficial forms of improving my writing.

It is next to impossible to spot all of ones own errors:

*repetitive use of favorite words
*redundant phrases
*neglected subplot lines

Could you make it through a complete novel if the main character's sidekick started every sentence with, "Well, like, you know ..." or if everytime the bad guy came on scene, his actions were described in narrative and then with flowing dialogue: Lenny tripped on the sidewalk as he stealthily moved toward the house. He almost fell, but after a moment of windmilling his arms, he caught himself. "Gees," Lenny thought, as he grabbed onto the porch rail, "I almost fell when I tripped over that sidewalk."  

How often have you finished reading a book only to sit back and wonder what. ever. happened. to Miss James after she left the coffee shop with the protagonist's favorite pair of red shoes? Or why. did. that. neighbor choose to turn on his lawn sprinklers at midnight, conveniently allowing him to witness a break-in next door?

Neglected subplot lines don't always mean the death of a novel. But if a reader hones in on a colorful bit of information and spends the balance of the novel looking for its purpose, when she reaches the denouement with nothing to satisfy her curiosity, you can bet disappointment will follow. Can you afford to alienate even one reader? I'd rather take my licks with a harsh critique.

So, what is the purpose of my opening picture?
It is a chuck of Alaskan glacier resting on an ice cooler, and I thought it would make one heck of an "On The Rocks" to toast whatever deserves toasting today!

Okole Maluna (Hawaiian/Bottoms Up)
Kanpai (Japanese/Good Health)
Prost  (German)

Teaching has ruined more American novelists than drink.
-Gore Vidal

"It takes only one drink to get me drunk.
The trouble is, I can't remember if it's the thirteenth or the fourteenth."
-George Burns

Got this scenic shot with my little digital
My Perfect Glacier 'Photo Op' at Prince William Sound

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Last Frontier

Cook Inlet with soaring eagle,
and backdrop of Mt. McKinley 
Tourist brochures, as well as local vehicle license plates, proclaim the 49th state 'The Last Frontier.' They're not just referring to the far reaches of gold-rush country in Yukon Territory or the frigid Arctic wilderness of Alaska's world-famous Iditarod Trail to Nome. Breathtaking scenery at every turn validates this claim.

A day's train ride south to Seward, a road trip by car to Wasilla (no sightings of former governor, Sarah Palin), even a walk down Anchorage's West 4th Ave. to Cook Inlet gave us a glimpse - or an eyeful - of what frontier means:

Unexplored territory
Region of backcountry
Outer limits

Captain James Cook and his crew weren't the only living creatures to travel between Alaska and Hawaii. I had hoped to spot a few friendly humpback whales that had wintered in Hawaiian waters and survived the arduous trip home through the Pacific. Though not to be, we were blessed with a sighting of their smaller cousins, a pod of excitable, black and white porpoises that flitted from bow to stern of our Klondike Express catamaran until everyone had a plethora of photos to show family back in the Lower 48, or in my case, 5-0. 

Today is Armed Forces Day, a day to extend a heartfelt thank you to all retired U.S. military and to members who currently serve our country. Most importantly, we remember all those who have given their lives to defend our freedom.

Alaska has played an important role in American military history since WWII.

Did you know the only successful invasion of American territory since the War of 1812 was in the Aleutians during WWII?

Sunday, May 15, 2011


Eight days of vacation in Alaska with no panned gold to show for it! Now three days to warm up and recuperate!

I've unpacked, done the laundry, downloaded all my pictures, bought new earrings (lost one at the airport) and stocked up on chocolate bars. Now to get back into the swing of things!

Stay tuned for photographs of late-night sunsets and amazing glaciers!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Typalyzer for Blog

Before the April A to Z blog challenge, I vistied Joanna Campbell Slan's blog and read her 4-1-09  post about analyzing blogs.

She analyzed all the blogs she participates in with the Blog Typeanalyzer (Blog Typeanalyzer) which uses concepts from the Myers-Briggs personality test to analyze the writing style in a blog. The concept is that the writing style reflects the persona used by the blogger in writing the posts.

The analysis indicates that the author of (that's me!) is of the type:

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment and are highly skilled at seeing and fixing what needs to be fixed. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Check out the April 13, 2009 post at Joanna's blog:

and take the test for yourself:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

indie books featured

This week I discovered a new blog site for indie authors. N.L. Earnshaw features a new author's work each day with a synopsis of the book, the author's bio, and select interview questions.

This is a terrific site to find new indie authors with all their pertinent information right at your fingertips.

I hope you'll check out my interview and explore the many authors and genres featured on Nadine's site ... just click on the title of this article. And, if you're an indie author, arrange for your own interview!