Monday, December 15, 2014

A Paladin Without a King: Robert Gould Shaw


To Robert Gould Shaw....


A reluctant Knight in the beginning
It was to be a troubled start,
But his character and youthful wisdom,
Was emblazoned on his heart.
He was given a great challenge.
To persuade those who weren't quite there,
But he remained on the side of Justice,
Equality, Truthful, and Fair.
This reluctant Knight soldiered on,
A paladin without a King.
Loyalty, Honor, and Bravery,
Which the Truth will always bring.
He earned his place in history,
Before being buried amongst his men.
An insult intended to bring dishonor,
Brought him honor time and time again.
He won the hearts and minds of many.
With the respect that these men had won,
This reluctant Knight now forever valiant
To Him and the fallen 54th, "Well done!"
What could have been of these honorable men?
Whose legacy remains unmarred.
He couldn't have had a better company in death,
Nor a better bodyguard.

BY SONYA DICKERSON

Why write a poem to a man that died over a hundred and fifty years ago? Many people have watched the movie, "Glory," in which Matthew Broderick, Cary Elwes, Denzel Washington, and Morgan Freeman starred in 1989. It was one of the greatest Civil War movies made of all time according to the critics.

This movie was very good and still can't watch it without crying, even though the writers took great liberties with the story, even going as far as creating fictional characters.

The Confederates thought they were insulting this great man when they left him in a mass grave full of Negro soldiers but what better way to die amongst the men that revered and respected him the most?

Rest in Peace Colonel. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Writing With A Chronic Illness

Sometimes the hardest thing in the world is to think. To have a coherent thought. To be able to form a sentence regardless of the pain that you're feeling. To feel motivated to finish a paragraph. To care enough to check for grammar. To feel desperate to create by smiting that nagging, blinking cursor on the screen.

It's easier to hide under a mountain of pillows, chuck some pills, and stare in a daze. It's easier to stuck in a good novel on my Kindle while my manuscripts suffers silently. My characters are left in suspended animation waiting on resolution to a conflict. Waiting for that inciting incident that's going to take their lives from order to chaos; a simple scientific lesson on entropy.

There are many days that I've sat and watched the cursor blink away at my face....taunting me that I'm not getting anything done. Then there are days that I've looked up and twenty pages have passed...and I'm still writing.

Those days I try to take advantage of because who knows when I'll be able to write again. I try not to think about other writers out there, churning out books, blogs, and articles like nothing. I try not to think of those writers who get up at seven am in the morning and write until lunch time. Or those writers that take their show on the road and have several pages completed daily. What are they doing that I'm not? Do I make excuses for myself because of my illness or do I realize that I have more time on my hands than I've ever had before?

I guess both are true. On days that I don't feel well, then I don't push it. Besides, whatever I do write comes out like crap anyway. I try to keep a pen nearby with my trusty legal pad and jot ideas down. Sometimes I like to "free write". That's when I just type whatever comes to my head. On days that I do feel okay, I try to write something...anything. This is why an outline is the best way to go when writing a book. I've been stuck on my current book so long I don't know what to do anymore. I get as lost as a toddler in a mall. Stuck and not loving it.

So excuses don't help anyone. I'm sure the writers who aren't slackers will tell you that. How else can you get anything done?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Brian Griffin From Family Guy Is Dead....Why I Won't Be Tuning In

I never thought I'd care that a cartoon character was killed off but I find myself caring. Why? Because Brian was such a well developed and well liked character. He brought stability and reason to a house full of chaos. Family Guy, like it or not, is a show of  great significance to pop culture.

 It has the younger generation asking those of us who are older about certain references that are made about my generation. Don't believe me? Go to YouTube and Yahoo answers from younger kids questioning the generational references made. Because Seth MacFarlane and I are from the same generation, it starts a dialogue with me and my daughter. It also feels good to remember.

The show also teaches younger viewers about historical events. Events that they sometimes look up on Wikipedia to get more information on. I was amazed at the effect that this thirty minute cartoon had. And last Sunday, it destroyed the very spark  that made this controversial but funny cartoon complete. Just because the writers wanted to "shake things up"? How about letting them move from Quahog? Or giving one of them a chronic illness. No you decided to kill off one of the most important characters that was integral to the show.

So what do I do? I don't know if I ever want to watch another episode again. It's like Thanksgiving dinner after Grandma dies. It's like running across an object in your house when you remember that the person that owned it is no longer living. There is absolutely no reason to watch the show any longer. Pulling the rug from under your audience is no way to shake things up. It's a way to make me turn the television off.

Bring Brian back or you've lost a fan forever.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bad Amazon Reviews: How To Move Past Them And Keep Writing

Your face is literally burning at the screen as you read those horrible words. You can't believe that they didn't see your vision. The reader just didn't comprehend what you were trying to say. They couldn't have read it because if they did, they would have seen the pure genius of your work and rated it accordingly.

Your first thought? It may be to flag the review. Scour Amazon's guidelines to see if any were broken and try to get them to remove it. You may even ask your friends and family members to flag the review and get it removed. Some authors may even be tempted enough to respond with fury in the comments section.

Don't take the bait. It looks unprofessional and it should never be done in any circumstance. How to get over a bad book review? First, decide if the review has any merit. Some reviews are just personal. The reader may not like you for whatever reason. One of my non-fiction reviews focused on one incident that happened in the book that she didn't agree with and decided to write a three paragraph rant on why I should not have called an ambulance when I injured myself. Even though the paramedics told me I did the right thing, she felt otherwise and slammed my book for that reason. Remember, a reader doesn't really need a good reason to give you a poor review. One reviewer gave a writer one star because the writer's name was larger than the title on the cover.

If you are getting bad reviews based on poor grammar, poor sentence structure, typos, poor picture/illustrations, or formatting, you may want to take notice and make some edits. If the reviews are telling you that there are holes in the plot or there are too many characters, then you may want to remember that on your next novel. I can practically hear you screaming, "But I fixed one plot hole in chapter seven when the bad guy jumps out of the ground and....". If your readers didn't get what you were trying to do the first time, then it may be too complicated or you need to restructure your work. You don't want your readers flipping through the pages trying to figure out your technique. They should be getting caught up in your story, not getting caught up searching through their Kindle.

You are not going to make everyone happy so there is no reason to try. Take the good criticism and make your next novel better. Take the bad criticism and throw it out the window. It only takes three or four minutes to tear down something you spent the better part of a year or more trying to create. My personal saying is, "Those that can, do. Those who can't become critics." Write that statement on a piece of paper above your workspace, then keep writing.  

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Do You Want To Write? Then Read!

Sigh....

Everyday, thousands of books are being published, thanks to the eBook format. You can become an author in a matter of minutes; a feat that would have been wonderful twenty years ago when I was making my start in the world of writing.

I do feel blessed to be living in such a time.

However, a lot of people tell me that they've always wanted to write a book and think that they may have a "high concept" idea that people will just love. While I've heard some good and bad ideas over the years, the one thing I would tell a "would be" author is to READ!

You need to read the BEST literature and then you need to read the worst. There are a lot of people out there **cough my fiance cough** that constantly complain that they don't have time to read when they spend an inordinate amount of time catching up on what other people are doing on Facebook and other social media sites. Reading is an investment in yourself and I can't understand why people would rather care about what Rihanna is eating right now over investing in something that will help them in the long run.

If you want to write, read. It increases your vocabulary as well. Readers like stories that flow. They  like words that they have to look up in a dictionary. Words are your tools and should be seen that way. Words are like the different prescription medications that doctors prescribe patients. You should try to perfect your craft all the time. I probably spend more time reading than I do writing.

You should too as a beginner.


Friday, August 9, 2013

GRAMMAR POLICE AND BOOK REVIEWS

Every author goes through the same thing. You have a pile of fingernails that you've bitten off in a nice neat pile on your desk. You try to get inside the head of your reader, hoping that they pay attention to the parts in your story that you believe you placed so much emphasis on.

You hope that they cheer when you want them to and feel what you wanted them to feel at the appropriate time. But it is nearly impossible.

As a writer, once you realize that everyone is reading your book for different reasons, you will see that not everyone will get the same thing out of your book.

I wrote a light comedic novella named Serial Me, where my character is the opposite of what most heroines look like in a book. She is overweight with low self esteem. She is trying to find Mr. Right while holding onto a job that she doesn't feel worthy of.

I hope that women with weight and self esteem issues will see that they too are beautiful. I hope that they stop worrying about self image and learn that once they accept themselves, others shall too. I should know. I'm in a wheelchair and suffer from many chronic illnesses. You think carrying a few extra pounds around is a possible deterrent. Try having 24 inch rims stuck on the side of your ass.

What will others get from the book? A great light and funny read on a Sunday afternoon. Perhaps someone interested in a high concept novel. Maybe someone looking for a few laughs. Or someone that just wants to size you up as a writer. Competition perhaps? Maybe.

I've noticed where a lot of reviewers will immediately make comment about grammar usage and misspellings. While there are so many horrible books out there that don't even grasp the basic concepts of the English language, there are some great books out there with just a few mistakes.

But there are those comments where the reviewer will berate the author over these errors. But what do you do when your book doesn't have errors.

I read one review where this woman was taking the author to task over grammar. But other reviewers chimed in and said that they could find no mistakes. Surely not as many as the first reviewer mentioned. Then it hit me....

What IF the reviewer didn't know what she was talking about? Novel idea, right? Of course! It makes sense. Most people that claim they know perfect grammar DON'T. What are their qualifications? Do they have a degree in English? Are they professional editors? What made this woman so sure that the book wasn't grammatically correct?

I saw two commercials and ten websites that  displayed the word WALLAH! When it's actually written Voila! But you couldn't tell the original authors of these websites that they were wrong. How many people do you think they go on "correcting"?

Don't take it too personal when someone takes you to task over a few mistakes here and there. I've found an error in World War Z but the story was so good, I didn't care. I still don't. The ones that lament the most about how the English language is going straight to hell are the ones that's sending it there with gasoline drawers on.

Unless you're one of those writers that really need to take an English class or two. IF so then stop reading and get there....FAST!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Diary of A Sick Chick Available on iBookstore

My books are available for you iPad users! Please go to the iBookstore and purchase your copy today! My book is on sale for a limited time! Purchase this book if you or someone that you know lives with a chronic illness. It could change your life.

Thank you!