Monday, February 23, 2015

How Important is Word Count?

When I write, I tend to keep an eye on the word count. If the word count is going up, I’m feeling great about making progress. If it isn’t moving or even going down I’m like “Oh no, no, no!” Yes, it can go down if I edit out unnecessary words or even entire scenes. I’ve also noticed a trend on Amazon where customers give low ratings to books they felt were too short. Today’s e-reader seems to always want more. That’s good in a lot of ways. Yet, it’s also bad because it influences authors to only write big.

However, here are some famous novels that are short.

17,084 - Macbeth - William Shakespeare
25,204 - I Am Legend - Richard Matheson
26,602 - The Old Man and The Sea - Ernest Hemingway
28,944 - A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
29,160 - Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
29,996 - Animal Farm - George Orwell
30,644 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
35,968 – Old Yeller – Fred Gipson
36,363 – Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
46,118 – Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
47,094 – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
47,180 – The Red Badge of Courage – Stephen Crane
48,523 – The Outsiders – S.E. Hinton
56,695 – As I Lay Dying – William Faulkner
59,635 – Black Beauty – Anna Sewell
59,900 – Lord of the Flies – William Golding
63,604 – The Scarlet Letter – Nathaniel Hawthorne
66,556 – The Color Purple – Alice Walker
66,950 – Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson
67,203 – The Fault in Our Stars – John Green

When I came across this list, I couldn’t help thinking that quality over quantity is something that should be appreciated. I love and admire these classic stories, but they were written in a pre-ebook era. Yet, this list made me feel like I’m more productive than I realize. What do you think? 

Writing Update:

My blogging goal is to post once a week. I sighed up for the  A to Z blogging challenge this year and joined the Reveal Blogfest and will announce my theme on March 23rd. My theme isn't that big of a deal, but I do feel confident because it's so easy.  

Meanwhile, I’m still editing Rebel Shifter and not getting it done as fast as I had hoped. I have a cover and blurb ready, but I have to be closer to publishing before I post it.

Meanwhile, Amazon has managed to delay me from filing my taxes. I can only think they send their 1099’s by the slowest snail mail possible because it arrived almost two weeks late. Then I got an email saying it’s wrong and to disregard it. This email came a week later, and some authors filed already. Thankfully I didn’t. Then they mailed another one out February 13th, and it finally came on the 21st. I can only imagine the millions of 1099’s Amazon has to send out and, no doubt, the potential for errors is great. I’m sure they must’ve considered having these 1099’s available online, but perhaps they don’t feel safe doing that yet. 

And now….back to writing. Have a great week! 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Even the fiercest animals can show love.

A few months ago there was a story trending about a cat in Russia that saved a baby by lying next to it in cold weather and mewing loudly until someone noticed. Thankfully the baby was saved and unharmed. The cat happened to be an outdoor cat shared by many people. One headline referred to the cat as homeless, which was misleading. She wasn’t really a homeless, but she was an outdoor cat shared by several people. A cat that has the freedom to come and go has a fun life. Some people felt the cat needed a home, but she really has many homes.

Most of the people said the cat is a hero. However, a few believed the cat was only acting on some sort of instinct to keep warm. Most disagree, including me. Perhaps there was some motherly instinct involved because the cat is a female, but I disagree that it was only about survival.

This is because I once had a cat who proved he was more than just instinct.

One day our dog was in the front yard and another dog came charging into the yard. Next thing I know, there is all this growling and snapping. I see a blur of two dogs fighting and race over, yelling, but unable to stop them without getting bit. As I hurry to get the hose, Felix happened to be under a car. He charged out and jumped on the dog’s back hissing. The unknown dog ran off in shock. Why would Felix bother to do such a thing? There was nothing in it for him.

Humans have instincts too for everything we need. Do we write off our own love as just an instinct? That everything we do is just for instinctive reasons? There was a time when I would have never associated certain animals with love. Yet, there have been several videos displaying that even lions who were raised by humans can love their owners.

How about sharks? Sharks are known as meat eating machines. However, yes, even sharks can show affection. 

Here are couple of videos with loving moments from Sharks and Lions. The sharks are more subtle, but I think the affection is there. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

My Torturous and Weird experiences with the Measles, Mumps and Chicken Pox.

When I was a kid, they didn’t have the MMR combination vaccine. I guess this gives away my age (50yrs.) I remember my mother taking me to get the mumps vaccine. It's most memorable because of the way my brother carried on. When we got there, they only had one vaccine left and they decided to give it to my brother, despite his protests.

However, I didn’t have to go back for the vaccine because a few days later I had the Mumps. It was a mild case, however, my father also got the Mumps. Unfortunately, we think he may have become sterile because after that my parents were unable to have any more children. I also have a theory that my brother became contagious after the vaccine and it was no coincidence that we got the Mumps at the same time. Either that or I caught it in the doctor's office.

I also had a Measles vaccine, but it didn’t work. When they came out with the vaccine, they were using dead viruses instead of weakened ones, which they later discovered did not work. So when I was in 3rd grade I came down with the measles and after a few days, spiked a 105F fever. I was a healthy kid with no other condition. Once I got on penicillin, I started to improve, but if it wasn’t for that I would have been in serious trouble. I mainly remember being too weak to walk, delirious and counting by tens over and over again. I also missed 2 weeks of school.

For some reason, I didn’t get the chicken pox until I was about 26 years old. I worked for a school district and we had a meeting at a high school. Two weeks later, I’m breaking out in spots. At the peak of breaking out, I was up all night dabbing calamine lotion in vain. Next thing I know my entire head (including my face) was solid in chicken pox. Let’s just say I couldn’t leave the house. My face was swollen for about twenty-four hours. People were saying I was going to get them in more delicate spot. Fortunately, I was spared that horror. However, I had one on my tongue and some others on the inside of my mouth by my lips. Then eventually when it was going away I found out first hand why it’s so hard for kids not to scratch. I missed one week of work.

After that ordeal, I found out that there is a high risk of complications in adults who get chicken pox. I also discovered that there was a new medication to shorten the duration of chicken pox, but it has to be taken early. My doctor didn’t know about it, which was really unimpressive.

Also I have relatives and others in my family history who either lost children or have had children born deaf because of Measles, Rubella and Diphtheria.

So, obviously I’m in favor of getting the vaccines (unless there is a medical reason or previous reactions.) Don’t we have an obligation to keep others who are too young or too sick safe? I’m sure many parents have thought they don’t need to vaccinate since many of the diseases appear to be gone. Yet, in these last few months we all know measles is coming back. I'm very grateful for vaccines and that my children don't have to go through having these viruses.