Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Kids, skip this. It’s not for you. (Yet)

You know you’re getting older when a photograph of you from ten years ago that you thought was a bad one looks pretty good to you.

You know you are getting older when comments to a Facebook photo say something like, “Still looking good... you never age!”

You know you’re getting older when you are almost the age of the neighbor you once had who was “that old neighbor.”

You know you’re getting older when the next-door neighbor’s pre-teen sums up a long conversation with you saying, “Gee, talking to you is really not like talking to an old person.”

Yup, all from personal experience. Actually, that last one was downright neat.

And I’ll take ‘em all. What’s the alternative?

Feel free to complete--- You know you’re getting older when...

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Blessed Are the Friends

You’ve heard the ubiquitous question, “where do your stories/ideas come from?”
Invariably the sweeping answer is, “everywhere.

But a truer answer is that different people tend to get ideas in idiosyncratic ways, specific to them.

I know writers who get a lot of stories for fiction novels from newspaper accounts of real life stories.

I know writers who get story ideas while walking and looking at houses, imagining the families who live there.

I know writers who get ideas for fiction from reading others’ fiction, and imagining how much more they’d have done with those stories.

About a year ago, I realized many of my longer stories got their themes or protagonists from a friend of mine. One specific friend. We have our regular walk & talk, and I’d be telling her something I had experienced way back, when she’d say, “why don’t you write your next story about it?”

She is not a writer, but an excellent reader. I owe the last five MG novel themes to her.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

When Fiction is Unbelievable

Many moons ago a professional in the publishing world said one of my stories belied credulity. A fancy way of saying it had too much this-and-that to pass for a realistic tale, as it was realistic fiction.

My first reaction was to hyperventilate. This particular middle grade novel depicted real events from real life. Not necessarily mine, but the life of a trustworthy person close to me who had nothing whatsoever to gain from making it up.

To me, this criticism meant one of two things. Either the reader had a limited range of what they could absorb as realistic, or I had failed to tell this story in such a way that it could pass for what might, just possibly, be something that could have happened.

The first possibility, regarding the reader’s limited imagination, is something I could do nothing about. The second was completely up to me.

When there’s a choice between what I can do nothing about and what is up to me, I choose the second. Helplessness is depressing, and what I can fix is empowering.

I know, my first instinctive reaction was to push such onto other people and, well, not my fault is a mantra we learn from a young age. Not only does it spare us possible punishment, (“the dog ate my homework”) but the adults around us model such reaction every day. Just look at our elected officials and almost anyone accused of a crime.

But, as I told my kids when they were growing up, only you can undo the things that are your doing. This is powerful.

When DS was a toddler and going through the “mine” phase, I remember some unfortunate thing happening that resulted in my saying to him it was not his fault. I don’t recall what that something was, but I never forgot his response. “It is my fault! It’s all mine!”

It was funny, but also a teachable moment for both of us.

So, moving forward, I combed over the fictionalized biographical story and labored to make it stronger and more vivid. In the process, I discovered a writing technique that might work for you if you encounter this reservation from a reader.

It’s in the details.

If you write concrete and specific details into the story, it gains a dimension of reality that wasn’t there before. The more details the better. Go all out. Describe the shape of the doorknob and the sound it made when the protagonist twisted it slowly, or the smell of specific herbs cooking next door. Don’t think of the details as unnecessary, but as part of concertizing. Not only fantasy stories deserve world building.

The true story I refashioned into fiction came my way without details. I had to invent them. But the fiction I imagined made the bones of a true story more realistic.

Don’t despair, fix it.

Can you tell I’m in the throes of just such?

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Why REALITY is All the Rage

When James Frey couldn’t sell his excellent story (A Million Little Pieces) as fiction, he presented it as nonfiction and it sold with an explosive marketing campaign. What followed was Oprah’s endorsement and NYT bestselling status until...

A website called The Smoking Gun exposed it as fictional, after all.

Every story has some of the writer’s reality in it. But if you label it non-fiction, you should stick very closely to documentable events. Where you take liberties, such as name changes to protect people or omissions for the sake of expediency, you must acknowledge this right off the bat.

Even when reading fiction, the reader wants it to be real. We secretly think that though the writer states this is a work of fiction, it’s *likely, mostly, basically, please-be* a true story.

This is why the how-to books admonish not to start a story with a dream sequence or a flashback. A reader invests in what is happening, only to find out it was just a dream or something that happened long before the main narrative. Na-ah. Not nice. Don’t do it to them.

Readers want that “happening now” feel, an exclamatory phrase CNN uses with abandon. It is much easier to sell a story if the storyteller prefaces it with BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Long ago, the sight of an old Victorian house in an adjacent town inspired me to imagine a ghost story that could have occurred in it. Actually, I based the story on something a friend told me did happen to the family that lived there.

The next time I walked by with my kids, (then five and eight years old) I told them the story. Don’t be alarmed, it was a kid-friendly version. They were riveted.

{Full disclosure: photo is not that very house^ but one very similar looking J}

Then the question came. “This I a true story. Right, Mom?”

The way they phrased the question begged me to lie. But they were my kids, not some nameless unseen readers. I told the truth.

“Well, no. I made it up. But the house inspired it.”

The instant deflation of their spirits testified to how much it mattered.

There are ways to sort of get around this.
Think of the lines that precede the first chapter of The Da Vinci Code. It’s a list of two little-known things that are factual, investing the reader in what is a work of fiction.
The Movie (and made for TV series) Fargo begins with “this is a true story,” but phrased in an enigmatic way that works as a disclaimer, too.

Because if we are to follow a narrative we need to believe it. At the very least, we need to have our incredulous nature suspended for the duration.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


“Nothing worth having comes easily”
Theodore Roosevelt

Ever wonder about stories of worldly success that went something like...

 “I wrote it in an afternoon and knew a friend of a friend of an editor, so I passed it on to them never thinking about it amounting to anything and was surprised a week later to have an offer of publication. The rest is history.

From the writer of a children’s classic picture book.

"I was working selling shoes when I became an actor after a talent agent approached me one rainy afternoon, and a few months later I became a movie star never having imagined my life would go anywhere near such, and the rest is history."

 From a forty-year acting career veteran and much $$$ later.

 "I never thought of myself as an inventor. I accidentally mixed some ingredients in the kitchen while making a failed birthday cake for my dog, and wound up with something the whole world needed, and the rest is history."

From A Nobel Prize winner

If you don’t know these stories, you haven’t been to the movies in a very long time, and possibly avoid reading fiction, also.

I think we all secretly live with such fantastic hopes for ourselves, even as they are not the way it usually goes. (That's an understatement.)

I don’t think that if it came easily it isn’t worth having. That thinking is too puritanical, even for me.

But I think a creative worthwhile life begins when you can let go of this sort of narrative and make the assumption that it just ain’t so.

That’s when I get to work.

“The work praises the person”
An Irish saying

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


This Day in History

Any day before a reader was born is history.

If you write stories for children, (which, to me, means young readers/listeners up to the age of fourteen) September the eleventh two-thousand and one is history.

There are already some good Kidlit books that either tell of that day, or have it in the background of a story. I wrote one such, and my agent wondered if it was too soon. Less than six months later, a whole slew of children’s books came out telling of that day. It was not too soon.

It was a seismic shock for the United States, one whose reverberations are operational today. We fear depicting the religion in whose name the perverted individuals chose to act, because many innocent adherents should not be implicated. But if we tippy-toe around that, we can’t tell the story of that day honestly.

And if we tell it honestly, how do we tell it to a child?

For my grandparents’ generation, there was another day that lived in infamy. It was the day where Pearl Harbor, where most of the United States navy was docked, another nation whom we did not provoke chose to decimate the American fleet in a few hours.  Listen to the then president of the United States speaking to the nation here. Franklin Roosevelt said it clearly: December seventh nineteen-forty-one, a date that shall live in infamy.

The country of Japan is an ally now, after we defeated it. Few kids know that date. But it would not be farfetched to say that the events of that day are still reverberating in all we think, feel and do today.

I don’t know what we should do about nine-eleven, except that I am sure we should write about it, and tell young readers what happened. Best to do it with riveting stories, preferably engrossing fiction where imagined characters live through real events, because these are the stories kids read out of school.

Someday, through the haze of the passing time, we will not fear naming the perpetrators. We’ll be breaking bread with their grandchildren, and together we’ll confront new challenges.

But for now, today, nine eleven is still a date that lives in infamy.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018


*Note to self

Blogs are dying. Lack of visitors has made many bloggers become former bloggers.Not only this blog, but other personal blogs.  

The survivors are specific aggregators of useful information (think make-up tips, relationship advice, celebrity gossip, none of which I happen to be a user)—these blogs, when well done and their authors work hard at gathering followers, are doing well.

But not the sort of blog I so reluctantly launched seven years and three-hundred and fifty plus posts ago.

There are times I wonder if I should continue, or let it sit inactivated but not deleted, like so many still on my Reading List. There they sit and stare like the Egyptian Sphinges (plural of Sphinx) by the pyramids of Giza.

Only these mysterious beings get plenty of visitors who come daily to return their frozen gaze. Maybe the analogy isn’t the right one.

Some months ago, one of the personal blogs I really like and follow had the author state that one of her mood lifters is remembering to do things that make her happy, like writing in her not-much visited blog.

I, for one, am glad she does. But the key was that it makes her happy.

Works for me. So I’m still here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Facebook Falsehoods

Just got another one. “A Facebook friend wants you to like...”

Facebook, in addition to being the unwitting conduit of fake news and falsehoods of other kinds, has been an affordable advertising tool for some and a connectivity tool for many. I always understood my data, such as Facebook thinks it has, is how they are able to provide this tool without a monthly charge.

The only controls explicitly given are the privacy layers that only innocent friends and colleagues (who are not hackers) are effectively blocked from causally seeing. Hackers see all, and Facebook certainly does. That’s okay with me. Everything on my timeline is fully public. This is how I use Facebook, as an ad.

Thus, most of my Facebook friends are not personal connections, but colleagues.

I’ve written before to say that on my social media pages (which very much includes this blog) I tell the truth and nothing but the truth. But I never considered telling the whole truth because many things of me and mine are private.

Which brings me to this pesky habit of some who think it is fine form to ask others to like this or that.

I like what I like, truthfully. All my likes are my own. If I didn’t “like,” it may be because I missed the post. I don’t spend many hours scrolling or I would have time for little else. But when I get one of those requests to like, it is an automatic forgetaboutit.

You may not think so, but it has a whiff of falsehood. Something related to paid reviews, which are malodorous to say the least. Actually, they stink.

Because, to me, even my Facebook public face can’t be a fake. If I liked yours, know that I really liked yours.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Loving What We Do

Back to doing what we love, and loving what we do, I am in deep doo-doo preliminary plotting my next novel.

Some writers are pansters. They write by the seat of their pants, and do not know where the story is going. It is as much a surprise to them as it will be for the readers.

Some writers are planners. They plot carefully before writing the first paragraph. They know every bone of the story, and only need to do the work and flesh out the details.

I’m a rough planner. I know the general outline of the beginning, middle, and end. I know little of the details, and the writing process offers many surprises for me. But I always felt I needed a general arc and direction before I so much as conjure the first sentence.

I considered doing it differently this time. I thought jumping in without the safety net of an outline would be a challenge that could revive the creative sprits. I wanted to leave the comfort zone of the tried and true, and who knows--- Maybe the results will be truer than ever.

But I chickened out.

So here I am again, beginning to fill in the boxes of a rough outline for what I hope would be a very good story. Only I feel somewhat defeated because, well, here I am again.

Maybe next time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018


A few months ago, someone close to me lamented about their life choices. “This was never supposed to be a professional direction,” loved one said. “This was only a hobby.”

Head scratch. (Me.)

I always thought that a hobby is what you want to do even if no one paid you.

A few weeks later, the thoughts keep swirling in my tinny head. Now I am clear.

The luckiest people make a living off their hobbies. Yes, sir.

This is every artist’s dilemma. We know what we love, and we’d do it for no compensation. (Shhh, don’t tell anybody.)

And the luckiest among us are paid to do what we love.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Gift from a Beggar

We’d arrived in Berkeley in the late fall of 1978. Little did we know this would be a historically significant time in the San Francisco Bay area. In only a week, the mass murder-suicide in Jonestown (of a cult whose roots were in the East Bay) would permeate the air. That foreshock lasted but nine days, when a supervisor in San Francisco’s city hall would shoot the mayor and the first openly gay supervisor, and the bay area ground would be rattled not by a physical, but an emotional quake.

My then boyfriend and I knew about the danger of earthquakes, and chose to move to the area anyway. We knew about San Francisco and Berkeley’s reputation as a social vanguard. If that included the sort of madness that engulfed and thickened the air everyone breathed, we had to take the good with the bad. We were new, and chucked it to The California Experience.

But that was not what we noticed most. From the very first day, what struck us  was how many people lived on the streets and how many were begging for spare change. We had lived in Ithaca, New York, for four years. We never saw street people there. The climate and the town’s people were inhospitable to such. I had seen beggars before, not only in movies but also in Jerusalem, where I grew up. These were blind, old, broken bodied people. They had their corner in downtown Jerusalem, and anyone could see they could not support themselves any other way. We never passed them without putting change into their tins. 

But Berkeley was full of young seemingly healthy and energetic beggars. This, more than the maddening news, struck us as peculiar. We assumed every one of them was in real need, for who in their right mind would spend their days asking for money if they could work?

And so we gave. And gave. And whenever asked, which was often, we gave again. If we didn’t have spare pocket change, we gave bills from our wallets.

A couple of months later, we had become jaded. New acquaintances informed us that most of the local beggars were drug addicts, and that our giving only perpetuated their habit. We stopped giving. In addition, our own funds were running low. It would be a few more months before we found jobs, and we had rent to pay.

Until one day, when a young beggar approached us on Telegraph Avenue, right by the intersection of Dwight Way, asking for spare change.
“Sorry, Man. We’re broke,” my boyfriend said. That was not literally true, but felt like it was in our near future.
The beggar stuck his hand into his deep pants’ pocket and doled a fistful of change. “Please take that,” he said. “You’re more broke. I had a good day.”
We tried to refuse, but he tried harder. He would not let us leave without taking some of his “spare.”

I don’t know what the answer is. But, forty years later, even as I continue to mostly pass local beggars by without giving, once in a while I see that beggar’s face and pull my pocket change out.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Truth and Untruth of Statistics

"Figures often beguile me. Particularly when I have the arranging of them myself; in which case the remark attributed to Disraeli would often apply with justice and force: 'There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.'"

Mark Twain

Chapters from My Autobiography, published in the North American Review in 1906}

And so I find myself, having just finished the fifth draft of a new novel for middle grade readers, staring the stats WORD popped up.

Time was, I wrote long hand, then revised and typed a story, only to ignore the numbers. WORD insisted on telling me the word count, but I looked the other way. I was writing literature, not counting beans.

I remember the feeling of diminishment when I encountered writers who spoke about word counts for different age groups, chapter page counts, and output counts per writing day. Everyone, it seemed, was counting.

I honestly couldn’t figure out why, and determined not to write-by-numbers.

Only they are everywhere. And while they say nothing about the quality of the story or the art of the telling, turns out they do count.

In the business of publishing, they count quite a bit. To quote Agent Jennifer Laughran’s iconic post on the subject, outlier word-counts put her in the mode of  “...I am tying a noose.” I don’t want that responsibility. I also want my work to be considered for publication.

Innovative work should not count these counts. But the numbers will let us know how far off the expected norms we’ve ventured, and then choose to do so knowingly and deliberately.

These Stats still lie in the most fundamental sense of not telling that all’s well, or that I must take some drastic action. The readability statistics only sit there, telling their truth. It’s not an important truth. But it is one I  now look at , just as I look at the WORD program’s mechanical (and often wrong) grammar-check at which end these stats pop up.

For me it is about marching forward having looked at all I could know about what I wrote. It means that if a reader calls the story “too long,” this is not a matter of length but the feeling it drags. The strengths and faults lie in the art, not in the craft. The mechanical checks and algorithmic statistics deserve a glance, and then the option to dismiss or heed from a place of awareness.

Phew, these latest revision stats look okay. But who's counting?

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

It’s Always Spring

When my kids were at the junction of navigating college/conservatory applications, I found a site that helped me understand this process, so different now from the time when we were at that stage.

College Confidential has its trolls and plenty of mis-informants. But for the most part, it is tremendously helpful. Recommended!

One of the things that struck me when young participates wrote about their hopes and wishes for higher education was the criteria they listed. I related to top quality academics and seeking particular teachers. I resonated to the matters of costs, funding, and scholarship offers most of all. I was on the paying side, after all. I understood wanting a happy social life and nice living conditions. But from my dowdy perch, I found one particular mention that struck me as funny and a bit “off.”

They wrote about the weather. They wanted good weather. They wanted excellent weather. Weather trumped all. It loomed on the top of so many wish lists that I wondered if young’uns have totally lost their sense of purpose or maybe, as one parent on the site put it, imagined they were going to a resort to major in beer.

Until the other day, when it occurred to me that when I moved to the bay area one of the considerations, and the one that keeps me firmly anchored here to this day, was and is---

The weather.

Whether you believe in global warming, global change, or no change, it’s July, and as it is in January, here it’s always spring.

See why I’m smiling?

It’s the weather.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Walking Through Cement

The other day, I was waiting in line at the post office when a charming young woman started a conversation with me. She sounded erudite (well, she had an upper class British accent) and her voice had the pleasing quaver of one who was readily sharing vulnerability with a stranger.

As the line promised a long wait, (I was number 97 and “now serving” was number 58) we had a long talk.

Turned out my new conversationalist was a writer. She had just published with a small house a breezily amusing tongue-in-cheek guide to manners. To be precise, it fell squarely into a category called chick-lit. I can attest that the author was tailor-made to promote this book and the book had received-- get this-- an endorsement printed on the back cover of a female Supreme Court Justice.

“Wow,” I said. “So how is it going?”

“Nowhere. Promoting this book has been like talking and no one answers,” she said. “It’s like waking through cement.”

Sometimes life is like that. You do all the right things. Your offerings are good. You get help from the right places, and then...


Walking though cement. A powerful if painful image.

Keep walking.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Finding the Light in Revision Cave*

*With apologies to the heroic rescue of the trapped youngsters of the flooded cave in northern Thailand. No concrete comparison is appropriate. But to be honest, this real life wrenching drama inspired this post.

Dealing with revision suggestions can feel like trying to crawl in complete darkness. That is because after catching one’s breath from the gut-punch (akin to someone saying your perfect baby is not so lovely after all L) and then allowing the suggestions to sink in, many a time the writer still can’t see why these suggestions were made.

It's easy, even fun, to make changes when the suggestion make sense. These "Ah-Hah (!)" suggestions make the write's heart grow limbs and do an exhilarating Hopak, which is a Cossacks' leg-kicking dance, in joyous appreciation. It's just that these types of suggestions are the rare ones.

Most editorial suggestions fall into the other camp. Be it by a Beta reader, an Intern, an agent or an editor, the writer feels like telling them they just didn’t get it and the fault lies in their flawed reading, not her writing.

But feelings should have nothing to do with it. Feelings and intuition guided the first draft all the way. Revision is about returning reason to the equation and reminding oneself the feedback came from someone who, just for making the suggestions, is a helpful soul.

So now the writer moves to phase two. To implement the suggested changes, or not to? That is the question.

My answer is that I must try. Not because the reader was right. Not because the reader was wrong. But because it is good for me to try.

This is where it feels like I'm crawling in the dark. How to make changes that don’t resonate? Where, who, and with what?

Take a deeeeep breath. Trust in the muse. She is akin to a miner’s light.

She’ll get you there, and your humanity will be better for it.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Johnny Tremain

As a way to celebrate the miracle that is our country, one encompassing much of the continent from sea to shining sea where, let’s face it, many wish to come to and few wish to flee from, may I recommend a classic book?

Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes, was the first historical novel written for young readers, and a Newbery medal winner. My kid-lit reading group read it some months ago, and saved me with this assignment from missing one of the best ways to appreciate the effort and enterprise that was the founding of the union of states.

I felt I was there, with Johnny, as his focus shifted from his personal struggles to be somebody in a world that did not bless him with privilege to the honor and privilege of fighting for something greater.

And the next time anyone says something about how divided our country is, let them situate themselves in colonial times, where many of the English king’s subjects in the Americas were not the least bit supportive of the colonial rebels.

Because what we have now is a vibrant, imperfect, but astonishingly successful nation, where disagreements are settled by a system of state-by-state voting.

That is something great, and worth celebrating.

Happy July Fourth and happy reading.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Le Mot Juste

The Right Word

On this date in history, June 26 1963 to be exact, this faux pas registered:

US President John F. Kennedy gives his famous "Ich bin ein Berliner" (intended to mean "I am a Berliner", but may actually mean "I am a doughnut") speech in West Berlin.

There are many examples of how much the right word in the right place at the right time makes all the difference. This example is not a weighty one. Hey, it’s summer, the sun is shining and I want to keep light.

But speaking of shining, I have always found the writerly edict to make sure every word shines to be absurd. Impossible, for one, and subjective to boot. It makes writers work themselves into a tizzy, often messing up perfectly good narrations.

Searching for just the right words is part of the process. This, especially when something nags at the writer that it just “isn’t right.”

One well-known trick is to click on the word and look at the scroll-down menu for “synonyms.” Still not quite right? Replace with a closer one, and click on its synonyms. I’ve done this in quadruplets. At a certain point, either the right one shows on the menu or the wee brain has an epiphany. Maybe it’s not the word, maybe it’s the sentence. Or maybe the paragraph or, goodness, the whole story.

Usually the right word settles, and once resting comfortably among the others, it’s sweet. Doughnut-sweet.

Or as we now write in the former colonies, donut. The spelling has to be "juste" right as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Welcome, SUMMER*

{June 21st 9:07 AM, PDT}

So, we are just about to enter official summer.

I was never fond of Summer, until I moved to the SF bay area.

Growing up in Jerusalem, Summer was HOT. I mean, too hot.

Later, in upstate New York, it was hot and muggy, thank you very much.

Growing up, Summer meant a long school-break. It was also a long time of missing my classmates and my home-away-from-home, which is what school was for me. Not a happy thing.

Swimming pool weather meant sunburns. Later, in adolescence, it entailed being self-conscious about my figure and the growing attention it got. I never felt all right about having someone look at my body who didn't bother to look at my face first, or make conversation. This happened a lot more in summer.

So Summer and I were not friends.

Now we made peace, Summer and I. I’ve passed the point of others gawking and I live where the Summers are gentle. I've grown up, and Summer has definitely matured into a mellow fellow. 

©Shelagh Duffett

Welcome, Summer. Happy to be with you again. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Favorite bit of Advice...

Don’t take anyone’s writing advice too seriously.
(Lev Grossman)

Yes, that.^
Including my advice. Including my advice to consider Lev Grossman’s advice. Seriously.

One of the tell-telling signs of an insecure professional is how they treat professional advice. They will typically heed it blindly, with reverence, swaying in contradictory breezes this way and that. Or they will reject advice willy-nilly.

Once a certain competence sets in, these extremes fade into the gray zone. Advice considered, not treated as holy writ, and then accepted/modified/rejected.

Lev Grossman is a writer and critic at the top of his game. His simple advice, to “not take too seriously,” is an efficient articulation of that gray zone. It isn’t a NO, it isn’t a YES, and it modifies the word “seriously” with a nifty qualifier.

I listen, consider, and move on. I wholeheartedly applaud you for doing the same with anything I ever wrote, or will write, in this blog.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

How About NOT Killing Your Darlings?

Kill your darlings.”
William Faulkner paraphrasing Arthur Quiller-Couch’s ON THE ART OF WRITING, 1914

It’s a jaunty saying that has resonance, so it stuck. In writerly lingo this means that, upon revising, a writer should consider how her favorite lines/paragraphs may be a product of vanity and do not serve the story.

Okay. Sometimes it’s the case.

But good writers are made of very good readers, and very good readers who like a turn of phrase or an aside that’s clever/different/intriguing, are usually right on.

The cliché knee-jerk notion is now the very saying to “kill your darlings.”

Here’ a novel idea— let your darlings be. They are there for a reason. Your judgement is sound, and without trusting in your judgment, you’ve got bupkis. That’s another (now cliché) saying that means your writer’s soul is bankrupt.

Love your darlings, sweetheart, and let them live.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018



Or--- This Place is NOT a Site of Commerce

In late May, a writing friend wrote in a panicked state and asked if she should close her personal blog because of the new EU rules that went into full enforcement May 25.

I’ve never heard of the  EU GDPR compliancy regulations

So I took a crash course. Bottom line is that it doesn’t apply to blogs like mine, where I sell noting. Blogger (a Google product) may sell your data and certainly mine, but I have never made a cent, nor intend to monetize this blog.

Check this here, if you are worried:

Does GDPR apply to me?
It applies to you if you process personal information AND are processing it as part of an enterprise. Article 4(18) defines enterprise as ‘a natural or legal person engaged in an economic activity, irrespective of its legal form, including partnerships or associations regularly engaged in an economic activity’. So basically, it seems that if you aren’t making any money through your blog you are ok. If you are making any money, then you need to read on…

 I think these privacy protections may even help some who are worried about the selling of our data. But I’m not even sure about that.

This blog and my website are not monetized by me. In fact, my website is not monetized by anyone directly as it is not a “free” product to me.

Yes, I do know that if it’s “free,” we are the product. So I’m the product, not the merchant.

I add that I do use Statcounter for both my blog and website. Statcounter claims to be GDPR compliant. I personally cannot be sure who they share what data with, but I do not ever get anything identifying any individual IP address, nor sell such.

But let it be stated here that if you wish to unsubscribe because of concerns regarding your data, or avoid ever looking at my website, I will be sad but it is a personal choice, and it is your choice.

Call the preceding sentence my "privacy policy compliance," and a repeat that I don't sell anything, most especially my valued precious readers. Not now, not ever.

I write  about what I am doing and thinking, and if you buy my book(s) you pay someone who may or may not pay me indirectly. But data mining is not part of what I get or do. Same for my worried colleague.

Hey, I’m lucky if I get your attention for five minutes, and I’m grateful you care.

In addition, I have taken the steps to secure my website with encryption (SSL certificate) and both this Blogger blog and my personal website are now https compliant, something techies have been urging for a while.  I do care to be a good citizen of the Internet world, because I care not only for myself, but for anyone who interacts with me.

Be not afraid, people. Not everything is out to get us. The Internet is fraught with possibilities for abuse, but so many benefit, too.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

May 22nd in History

I stay away from politics on the Internet, because I have found that is makes good people behave and talk like bad people. Sometimes very bad people.

If you have followed any of my posts for any length of time, you know my fascination with “this day in history.” Lots of things happened on May 22nd, this date in history. But the most interesting will bring out the venom of the politicos.

May 22nd 1799, Napoleon declared Jerusalem for the Jews. Anyone who knows anything knows that it is central to the Jewish ancestral tradition in a way it is to no other tradition. But, whoa, don’t start me on that one.

May 22nd 1942 The Steel Workers Organizing Committee disbands, and a new trade union, the United Steelworkers, is formed. Looky here; unions were both the best thing and what built the American middle class, or a cancer on our country— depending how your politics navigates your mind. Please don’t start.

May 22nd 2015, Ireland declared Gay Marriage legal by popular vote. I like that this was done by popular vote and not by judicial decree, because legal marriage is a “communal acknowledgement” of status rather than a personal feeling. But, please, don’t start me on that one. (Well, I was the one who started— so woe on me.)

So here are some I hope we can celebrate together without bringing out the trolls and poisons that hatch in the mud:

760 14th recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet
1819 1st steam propelled vessel to cross Atlantic (Savannah leaves Ga)
1842 Farmers Lester Howe and Henry Wetsel discover Howe Caverns in New York State when they stumble upon a large gaping hole in the ground

^All on May 22nd.

But I saved my favorite for last:

                 May 22nd, 1849 Abraham Lincoln receives a patent (only US President to do so) for a device to lift a boat over shoals and obstructions..

Oh, I forgot. There are some who are still mad about Lincoln. I’ll celebrate anyway.