Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Return to Facebook

I ended my self-imposed exile from Facebook on Sept. 15. I decided to take a sabbatical from the social-media site after it proclaimed one of my posts violated its guidelines (you'll have to go to my page to see what I shared on Aug. 15) and prompted a 30-day banishment (all I could do was be a spectator). It wasn't worth my time to be there.

What did I miss while being away from Facebook? From what I could gather, not much. A friend's spouse passed away as well as the parent of a friend, and a former AP colleague. I was invited to "like" several pages; some folks changed the names of their pages; I lost about 25 "likes" to my author page (feel free to "like" if you go there). I also missed the endless political babble. Not! 

What I was able to accomplish during the past 30 days? I finished my next novel (to be published Feb. 1) and completed my editor's edits (I'm currently working with the design artist for the cover). I read several books (about one a week), wrote several blog posts and book reviews (Amazon and Goodreads), celebrated a couple's 60th wedding anniversary, had my eyes examined, got my annual flu shot, took care of some yard work, accomplished a few honey-dos, and decluttered a little of my study (a neverending task). 

So what's in my Facebook future? I won't be there as much, freeing up precious time to be more productive in other areas of my limited life. You can always reach me through Messenger, Google Hangouts, or email. And if you want to show support for our beleaguered U.S. Postal Service, send me a letter. You can also call me on the phone (but I can't promise to answer). 

Until the next time . . .

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Wear Your Mask and Speak Up!

I was at a hospital for an annual checkup and the receptionist appeared to be perturbed with me. I had a bit of trouble understanding what she was saying.

She was wearing a face mask and I was standing the recommended six feet from her. I was wearing a mask as well. I also wear something else: hearing aids.

According to the Center for Hearing and Communication, about 48 million Americans suffer from hearing loss. And about a third of people over 65 (of which I belong) have hearing loss. 

I often rely on reading a person's mouth when they are talking so I don't misunderstand what they're saying. That is negated when someone is wearing a mask. I can't read their lips. 

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying people shouldn't wear the mouth-and-nose covering. I'm a strong advocate of masks and have written about it in the past. I get perturbed when I see people walking around bare-faced in enclosed public places, retail stores, or wherever.

All I'm suggesting is that people speak up when addressing each other. Sometimes the voice behind the mask comes out garbled or mumbled. Most of the time, I'll ask the person to repeat what they've said. Other times, I'll let it pass if it's just mindless chatter. 

I would imagine that even those without hearing problems might have difficulty picking up what others are saying when one is soft-spoken or mumbles a lot. Some folks are self-conscious about wearing hearing aids (I'm not) or try to hide their hearing problems, so please that into consideration as well when talking to others. Admittedly, I sometimes rely on my wife to be my second set of ears.

While I miss the facial expressions, especially the smiles, being covered by masks, it's also the clear sounds that are being muffled.

So speak up and let yourself be heard loud and clear. 

Until the next time . . .


Monday, September 7, 2020

Another Step Toward Publication

My absence from Facebook has been somewhat productive. I completed the first edits on my upcoming novel and returned the manuscript to my Wings ePress editor today, a week ahead of schedule. 

For those who are counting, this will be the fourth book in the John Ross Boomer Lit series. John and Sally Ross have returned from their travels to Budapest and New York, only to deal with travails back at their Kentucky home.

The edits and suggested changes weren't too painful other than a bruised ego that I let a few things slip through on the initial submission. And while I try to avoid repetitive words and phrases, some of those buggers raised their ugly heads as well.

Now the manuscript is back in my editor's able hands, and if she finds other problems, it'll bounce back to me to make wrong things right. And after that, if everything looks fine and dandy, it will go to a copyeditor to pick up any typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors. 

The final step will be the galley proof that I'll read for any problems such as computer glitches that create poor spacing, font changes, and whatever isn't right. 

I'll also be working with the cover artist to come up with the design that captures the essence of the book. 

And after that, I'll begin work on the fifth book in the series. Never a dull moment when I'm creating stories.

Such is the life of a writer.

I almost forgot. The novel will be published Feb. 1, 2021. More about that later.

Until the next time . . . 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Movies for Boomers: The Last Movie Star

While surfing the many cable channels I chanced upon "The Last Movie Star" on The Movie Channel. It was one of Burt Reynolds's last films. And it was memorable. 

Reynolds was a mega-star during his heyday in Hollywood, gaining exposure in TV's "Gunsmoke" in the 1960s, the "Smokey and the Bandit" series in the '70s and '80s, "Boogie Nights" in the '90s and many more in a resume that includes 185 acting credits. He was the box-office king from 1978-82.

But back to "The Last Movie Star." Reynolds stars as Vic Edwards, an aging actor who is persuaded by his friend Sonny, played by Chevy Chase, to go to Nashville to receive a lifetime achievement award from the local film festival. He discovers it's a low-budget operation that's run by dedicated movie lovers.

It turns into a journey of self-discovery as Edwards comes to terms with his past glory and present situation. He takes a side trip to Knoxville, where he reflects on pre-movie days while seeing his childhood home, walking across the football field at Neyland Stadium where he was a star at the University of Tennessee, and seeking to find an old girlfriend at a nursing home.

The Adam Rifkin-directed movie (originally titled "Dog Years") was released in February 2018, six months before Reynolds's death at 82. It's a touching film on several levels, from Edwards's coming to terms with his life to the film festival's organizers who withstand his initial verbal abuse.

Another reason I enjoyed the film is that it was an honest depiction of aging. Reynolds wasn't dressed up to look like a hunky octogenarian. He used a cane, his bushy eyebrows weren't trimmed, and he took numerous meds. It was to Reynolds's credit that he played the role "as is."

The film features flashbacks to "Smokey and the Bandit" and "Deliverance," so there's bound to be some who see a parallel between lead character and Reynolds. 

Besides Chase, the movie features a strong supporting cast including Ariel Winter, Clark Duke, Al-Jaleel Knox, Ellar Coltrane, and Kathleen Nolan (remember her from "The Real McCoys?")

Click here to see a trailer from the movie.

Until the next time . . .

Monday, August 17, 2020

Pushing Pause on Facebook

I'm currently on the third day of a 30-day break from Facebook. 

I needed a hiatus from the time-consuming social website and all the real and faux drama it entails—from politics, pandemic, news, and opinions. And practically everything else under the sun.

I can't say that I've missed it that much. It's similar to when I quit smoking 42 years ago; a withdrawal that gets easier by the day. 

I'm able to read items that appear on Facebook but without being bombarded by the noise of uninformed opinions, demeaning comments, and mean-spirited attacks that often accompany the posts.

So what am I doing with my time? Here are a few things:

  • More time reading books
  • Watching a few movies
  • Research my next novel
  • Decluttering the house (the more I toss, the more I uncover)
  • Minimal yard work (it was almost non-existent except for mowing the lawn)

I also may begin edits from my publisher on my next novel (John Ross Boomer Lit Series), which is scheduled to be released next February.

My life wasn't consumed by the social-media behemoth. At least I don't think so; you be the judge. I generally logged on in the morning for an hour or so to read notifications from friends and scroll the latest posts, and then again for about an hour in the evening. 

As an author, I use Facebook to post articles and memes pertaining to reading, writing, and other literary interests as well as updates on my writing endeavors. I also belong to several writing/author groups so I'd check on what others were doing.

I don't want to give the impression that I've withdrawn from everything. I still tweet, save articles on Pinterest, read blogs on Tumblr and Medium, and opinions and advice on Quora. I also subscribe to several blogs from fellow authors.

My time on Facebook is suspended until Sept. 15. I'm not sure what will happen after that, but my guess is that I'll spend a lot less time there in what is becoming a virtual wasteland. 

I'll provide an update when it's over and done. I also plan to post more here about various and sundry things in my free time so follow if interested (hint, hint).

Please share your thoughts on how Facebook, or other social media platforms, affect your life.

A thought from comedian/author/actor Jim Carrey:

“Solitude is dangerous. It’s very addictive. It becomes a habit after you realize how peaceful and calm it is. It’s like you don’t want to deal with people anymore because they drain your energy.”

Until the next time . . .



Thursday, August 13, 2020

One Step Toward Publication

My manuscript is in the hands of my editor and now I have a publication date: Feb. 1, 2021. It will be the fourth novel in the John Ross Boomer Lit series.  

I submitted the 95,000-word novel to her three times. Usually, one time is enough. The reason is I found two words used too often. She's busy with other manuscripts so perhaps it'll save her some time when she gets to mine.

One word was found on a routine Find search I do after completing a work in progress for specific words. I neglected to do it for a particular word. I don't know why the word skipped my brain. My bad

The second time came after I learned my original title had been used by a fellow Wings ePress author in 2019. I ran another Find on some keywords and discovered another word used excessively and needlessly in some places. 

By the way, after two days of wracking my aging boomer brain, I came up with a new title. I'll disclose it in the near future when there's a cover. 

Now there might be a few other words that fall into that category. My editor has a keen eye and will let me know. And when I receive her edited copy, I may run across some more during the editing. 

Until the next time . . .

Monday, August 3, 2020

Quick Trips on TV: A Taste of Travel

Many of us are going stir crazy during this pandemic, especially those who love to travel to faraway places. I had a trip to Eastern Europe postponed until next spring, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it won't happen again in 2021. 

A program I discovered a month or so ago while walking on my treadmill (my healthy way to travel nowadays) was A Taste of Travel. It's an Australian production from 2016, with 13 episodes featuring four guides and is available on Amazon Prime.
The shows are quick hits, lasting about 20 minutes and taking viewers to four different destinations for five minutes or so. The episodes touch on landmarks, hidden treasures, travel tips, and food in places such as South Africa, Greece, France, England, Canada, China, Fiji, India, Vietnam, Thailand, and the United States. 

The photography is generally very good but I would caution that if you close your eyes for five seconds or more, you might miss something; it moves along that quickly.

Guides Carolyne, Lynton, Scott, Alana, and Savannah love to travel as evidenced by their enthusiastic and friendly presentations. They often bring along local guides to add more detail to their trips. Furthermore, you can sense they're having fun and that makes it even more enjoyable as it becomes a vicarious trip for the viewer.

So if you're looking for a travel show to watch, whether to take you to different places, whet your appetite for certain destinations, or simply to go along for the ride, you might want to give A Taste of Travel a view. 

Until the next time . . .