Born a Crime_

“Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah [Book Review]

born-a-crimeIf you only read one book this summer, it should be “Born a Crime” by Trevor Noah. Most of my life I thought being born “illegitimate” was the worst state in which one could be born. Being born illegitimate means your parents weren’t married.

I was born illegitimate. My mother and father never married. And it was an embarrassment. It was one of those things I didn’t want my friends, or anyone else for that matter, to know.

Well, Trevor Noah’s birth trumps mine. He was born a crime. In South Africa during Apartheid, it was against the law for a Black person and a White person to have sex. The penalty–time in prison if they were caught or somehow found out.

Trevor is the product of a White man and a Black (African) woman, conceived and born during Apartheid. Trevor tells the story of his life in an unvarnished, unpretentious, bare-it-all kind of way. He shares the good, the bad, and the ugly. Yet he does so with eloquence and humor.

Trevor’s story is like none I’ve ever read before. His life is a paradox. A contradiction. There are numerous occasions in his childhood where he’s met with circumstances that force him to make difficult choices because he’s “not black enough” or he’s “not white enough”; or conversely he’s “too black” or “too white.” It was those difficult circumstances his mother used to teach him never to pity himself and to look at life’s setbacks and challenges with humor.

When you look at this bright-face, handsome, intelligent young man, chosen by Jon Stewart to replace him on The Daily Show, you would not have guessed he rose from extreme poverty. Nor would you have thought he had to be hidden by his parents and couldn’t play outside with the other children for fear his secret, or rather his parents’ secret would be found out.

His early childhood was filled with the normal hijinks of most little boys. By his own admission, he was “naughty as sh…” Trevor’s mother, however, was a strong Christian woman and a stern disciplinarian. She disciplined Trevor out of love. She didn’t give him an easy pass because he was her son — knowing the world wouldn’t either — a world that would often judge him because of his skin color or treat him with hostility.

Trevor’s story will make you laugh. It might make you cry. But it will certainly entertain and educate you about the harsh realities of a cruel and unjust society that values people based upon their skin color. But most of all, it will fill you with joy and hope as you read about the resilience of this young boy, and the steel-will of his mother determined to expose him to things beyond their grasp to give him the ability to dream and to soar.

This is a story of love, hope, and the power of unquenchable faith. It’s the story of a modern-day miracle. If you don’t believe me, read his story for yourself. Then drop me a line and tell me what you think.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Catherine

Texas-Style Roundup 2.0 – My Top 10 Most Viewed Posts on Writing for the Last Year

writing
Yee Doggie!

It’s roundup time again! My writer’s blog went live on January 15, 2016. In March 2017, I posted my first Texas-style Top 10 Roundup of most viewed posts on writing. Because I’ve written a plethora of other posts since then, I decided to do a second roundup just in case you missed some of my most popular posts.

Texas-style Roundup 2.0 in the order of most viewed posts:

1. Jealousy – How to Deal with the Green-Eyed Monster

2. Fierce Women Who Happen to Be Authors – A Conversation with Author Arianne “Tex” Thompson

3. Fierce Women Who Happen to Be Authors — A Conversation with Sue Latham

4. 5 Success Strategies to Implement While You Wait for the Fifth Season

5. What’s in Your Writer’s Toolbox?

6. Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors – A Conversation with Deondriea Cantrice

7. My Curious Start to Writing Fiction — What’s Your Story?

8. Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors — A Conversation with Dr. Kat Smith

9. If You Could Write an Open Letter to Your 13-year Old Self, What Would You Say?

10. Mysteries – Why We Love to Reading Them and Write Them

My sincere desire is to inform, inspire, and/or encourage others on their writing journey. I hope I’ve succeeded in some small way with these posts and others.

As always, thanks for stopping and happy writing!

Catherine

Mysteries – Why We Love Reading Them and Writing Them

mysteries
Sherlock Holmes

Mysteries have been around for ages, dating as far back as Edgar Allan Poe penning “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” in 1841. It’s recognized as the first modern detective story. And then there’s Arthur Conan Doyle who created the most famous detective of all times, Sherlock Holmes, first appearing in 1887 in “A Study in Scarlet.” Those are the forerunners. Since then many great mysteries have followed.

But the question is, what is it about mysteries that make us love them? When we read them, why can’t put them down? What fascinates us so about mysteries?

I love a good mystery or thriller! I love reading them and I love writing them. I’m no psychologists, but I’m going to play arm-chair psychologist today and take a stab at why we love mysteries.

Most readers love the thrill of the chase, action, and suspense — even danger — as long as it can be enjoyed from a safe distance — from the pages of a book or a movie screen.

I believe it’s in our DNA to problem-solve. As with a puzzle or Rubik’s Cube, we must fit the pieces together. And when we put the pieces together, solve the problem, or figure out “who dunnit” we are affirmed as the intelligent beings we always knew we were.

Mysteries take us on an adventure, an escape. We can live vicariously through the experience of the protagonist, and we can accomplish great and heroic feats through him or her. I have no illusion that I’m a hero in my own little world. That’s why I love stepping into the shoes of a great detective or spy.

When the good guy or girl prevails, all is right with the world for that particular moment after reading these two small words, “The End.” Endorphins surge through our bodies just as they do after eating a decadent piece of chocolate or sipping a chilled glass of Chardonnay — or whatever takes you to your happy place. 🙂

I believe writers write mysteries for the same reasons. We want to give readers a delectable memorable experience. We want to offer them a treat for the soul. In my estimation, there’s no higher artistic achievement than that.

So what do you think? Drop me a line tell me why you love to read or write mysteries.

Au Revoir!

Catherine

Who Owns It?

Guest post from award-winning author and publisher, Anita Dickason.

owns
Anita Dickason
“I do.” This is a typical response from many authors when I ask, “Who owns your book?” In the strictest sense, they are right. An author owns the copyright to the content. Unfortunately, ‘own’ does not always apply to the finished product: the published book. Two other components can be a significant game-changer for an independent author: the ISBN and cover.

ISBN

The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is what I term the social security number of the publishing world. It is a unique identifier for each version of a book: softcover, hardback, eBook, etc.

Bowker is the U.S. agency that sells and administers ISBNs. For every ISBN assigned to a book title, Bowker maintains a record of the book’s details that includes the name of the publisher. The ISBN assigned to books submitted to distributors such as Createspace, Smashwords, and IngramSpark will be confirmed with Bowker to determine the identity of the publisher. If the author is not the publisher of record, the submission will be rejected. Simply stated: Whoever owns the ISBN controls distribution.

As an example, CreateSpace (CS) has three options for the assignment of the ISBN. CS will provide a number that is free, or the author can purchase one for $99. The third option allows the author to use a number purchased from Bowker.

Selecting the free number sets up CS as the publisher of record. Once the book is published CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform is listed as the publisher in the detail section of the book on Amazon websites and with Bowker. The book can only be sold through Amazon and distributed by CS to other retail outlets through the Extended Distribution Channel. The author cannot use the free ISBN to publish the book through another distributor such as IngramSpark. This same scenario applies to any distributor or publisher that offers a free ISBN whether for a paperback or eBook.

The $99 option provides the author all the distribution rights that would be available had the author purchased the number from Bowker. The advantage is CS will handle the title set up with Bowker using the publisher name provided by the author. A disadvantage is the expense when an author intends to publish additional books. A block of 10 numbers can be purchased from Bowker for $295, or $250 when there is a sale.

Which option to select for an ISBN is dependent on the author’s goals. I know several authors who are very satisfied to stay within the realm of Amazon and choose the free option. That is not always a wrong decision as the author has only one account to manage. If, however, an author wants to expand their book distribution beyond Amazon, which does have limitations, it is important to understand the role of the ISBN before selecting the free option.

Book Cover
The other ‘gotcha’ is the cover. Book cover templates provide an easy method to design a cover. Use of the template, however, can cost the author the copyright to the cover.

CreateSpace’s Cover Creation is an example. CS owns the copyright to any cover created on one of their templates even if the author has uploaded images. The cover can only be used on the paperback distributed by CreateSpace or on the Kindle version. If an author intends to use IngramSpark or an eBook distributor such as Smashwords or Pronoun, a new cover is required.

The second concern is images used by the designer. Images are subject to copyright. If the designer does not have the legal right to use the image, the book may be subjected to litigation. When a copyright complaint for an image in a cover is filed with Amazon, the book is removed from Amazon sites and cannot be sold until the issue is resolved.

The author should also ascertain whether the designer’s right to use the image includes full rights or is there a limitation. This can affect how and where the cover can be displayed.

Whether it is the use of a template, purchase of a pre-made or a custom designed cover, the author should ascertain who owns the copyright before electing to use the service. If the designer or company agrees to release the copyright, the author should request written confirmation along with the print-ready PDF file and JPG. The transfer agreement should stipulate the author has full rights to the final files that includes unlimited use of any images.

The publishing environment is in a constant state of flux. Companies, individuals, and websites have a way of disappearing or going out of business. Knowing your options for the ISBN and cover design can eliminate a ton of grief down the line.

*****************************
Anita Dickason is an Award-Winning Author, Publisher and retired Dallas Police Officer. Her law enforcement experience, (patrol, undercover narcotics, SWAT team, and advanced accident investigator) provides the background and plots for her FBI Tracker suspense novels, Sentinals of the Night and Going Gone!

Her publishing company, Mystic Circle Books and Designs, LLC provides manuscript and design services to assist authors in publishing their works. Anita is also the Fiction Editor for Indie Authors Monthly Magazine. Her column, ON THE HUNT, is a series of articles on publishing, distribution, and promotions and is featured in the magazine and on her website: https://www.anitadickason.com/

“Wild Seed” by Octavia E. Butler [Book Review]

Compelling, raw, poignant, evocative, unexpected.

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading “Wild Seed.” It’s the first novel I’ve read by this esteemed author called “the grand dame of science fiction.” The story begins with the unveiling of an interesting world created by Ms. Butler. It’s set in an African village in the late sixteen hundreds.
wild-seed In fluid prose, she introduces the two main characters, Doro and Anyanwu. I was instantly drawn into their world and the unusual makeup of these two individuals. Doro has unique powers, and those powers draws him to Anyanwu. It is her unusual powers that drew him to her after finding his village destroyed and all of his people killed.

Doro who’s lived for thousands of years, stealing the lives of other people, is totally fascinated by Anyanwu’s extraordinary abilities — the ability to take different forms –animal and human, and the ability to heal herself and others.

Taking Anyanwu as his bride, he coaxes her to leave her village where she’d lived for 300 years to travel to his colony in the new world.

Anyanwu, who’s equally fascinated by Doro, grows to love him. She later discovers there are many sides to him, some of them downright frightened. Once they reached his village in America, Anyanwu is not only surprised by all the new customs she has to learn, but she’s shocked by the plan Doro has for her.

Ms. Butler’s writing is smooth and effortless. It is so well written, while I knew the story was fiction, I easily slipped between the pages becoming totally invested in the lives of these two unforgettable characters. “Wild Seed” touches on many interesting themes — love, loyalty, trust, betrayal, power, immortality. It is a great read. I highly recommend it!

“Hugo and Nebula award–winning author Octavia E. Butler’s sweeping cross-century epic places her “among the best of contemporary SF writers” (Houston Chronicle).

If you’ve read “Wild Seed” drop me a line or two and let me know what you think.

Chat with you later!

Catherine

What Do You Do to Get into the Christmas Spirit?

christmas-spirit
I love Christmas! I love the reason for the season, celebrating Jesus’ birth and all the excitement that goes along with it. I love the joy the season brings. There’s something special in the air! People are kinder, and it seems that Christmas somehow ushers in an expectation of hope — something new and wonderful for the year to come!

christmas-spiritI also love many of the fun things people do to get into the Christmas spirit, such as decorating Christmas trees, hanging bright colorful lights, baking special holiday treats, and playing those wonderful classic Christmas songs.

What will you do this year to get into the Christmas spirit?

The single most favorite thing I’ve done to get into the Christmas spirit happened a few years ago. It was so much fun, I don’t know why I haven’t done it again. Myself and a few of the ladies who serve in the children’s ministry with me at church decided to do a Christmas movie night. I hosted the event at my home. I can hear those of you who know me say in unison, “Naturally!” 🙂

The menu included popcorn, hot dogs, nachos, movie size candy, and sodas. Since it was a grownup gathering — and to make it festive, I served a sparkling champagne punch. Yum!

christmas-spirit The main event was our movie! We chose “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Although it’s been colorized, we watched it in black and white. I’ve seen this great classic several times, but it always delivers!

If anything can get you in the Christmas spirit, it’s watching this heart-warming story. I think I’ll watch it tonight. 🙂

Hey, drop me a line or two and tell me what you’re going to do to get into the Christmas spirit, or what you’ve already done. I look forward to hearing from you!

Have a merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year!

Catherine

Changing Seasons – What Can They Tell Us About Life?

During my devotion this morning, I looked out of my bedroom window as I’ve done hundreds of times before, and observed something I’d never noticed before. I’ve lived in my home for more than twenty years, and about ten years ago we planted a Texas Ash tree in the middle of the backyard.

Seasons-changing
My Texas Ash Tree

It’s a fast growing tree which has grown to about 45 or 50 feet, or taller. During the Spring and Summer it produces an abundance of beautiful deep green leaves.

With it being Fall, and fast approaching Winter, most of the leaves have turned a golden-yellow. What I noticed today that I hadn’t noticed previously were the “falling” leaves.

I watched for fifteen or twenty minutes transfixed at how the leaves were dropping intermittently — as though timed. One. Two. Three at a time they dropped. It was as though each would say, “My turn!” then let go and sail to the ground like a skilled cliff diver.

Within the next two to three weeks, the tree will be dormant and the branches completely bare of leaves. But, like clockwork, when March rolls around buds will start to sprout and by Spring the tree will be full of lush green leaves once again!

As I continued to watch, it occurred to me that a few life lessons could be gleaned from observing the effects of changing seasons. Here are a few of my musings:

As with this great tree, we too experience seasons of life.

The seasons are different. Some are painful and difficult. Others are pleasurable and fun. Each is temporary, and if we recognize them as seasons, we can approach and deal with them more effectively.

There comes a time when we have to shed some things in our lives to allow a fresh start.

This shedding could take the form of a person(s), things we’ve accumulated, bad habits we engage in, or baggage we’ve been holding on to for far too long. The shedding could take the form of emotions, anger or bitterness. If we forgive, we can free ourselves from negative emotions weighing us down.

As the leaves are falling, it appears the tree is dying. But, in the Spring, it will become beautiful once more!

When our lives are falling apart, it seems we can’t make it. But we can. And when we come through the storm we are stronger and better because of it. But just like the tree has a source of life in which its roots are deeply embedded, we must have a source of life in which our faith is deeply embedded. What is your source?

Sometimes we must be transformed before we can experience our best selves, and receive God’s best blessings in our lives.

What life lessons can you extract from changing seasons? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Thanks for stopping by!

Catherine

Fierce Women Who Happen to be Authors – A Conversation with Sue Latham

Just in time for Halloween, I’d like to introduce to you the fourth author in my Fierce Women series Fierce Woman Paranormal author Sue Latham. Sue is the author of two novels The Haunted House Symphony and The Science Professor’s Ghost. In our conversation, Sue talks about the ghosts in her stories and ghosts in real life. She shares an interesting story of paranormal activities she observed on a particular ghost hunting expedition with her Ghost Hunting Group.

fierce-women Sue also talks about her experience as a writer and shares great writing advice for aspiring writers perfectly timed for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

Sue has traveled extensively. And in Europe, she walked in the footsteps of Beethoven, Mozart, Einstein and Van Gogh and was once blessed by the Pope.

Join me for a “spooky” yet fascinating conversation with Sue Latham!

Sue’s books can be found on Amazon.com.

The song featured in this post is called “Neo Soul Day” by Texas Radio Fish.

Nanowrimo

Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) NaNoWriMo Write-In!

So, you want to write the next great American novel? Well, what better time to get started than National Novel Writing Month, the month of November. In honor of National Novel Writing Month, DAWG will be hosting a three-hour NaNoWriMo Write-In to help you jumpstart your novel-writing project!

NaNoWriMo

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to complete a 50,000 word manuscript during the month of November, beginning November 1 and ending at 11:59 P.M. on November 30th.

Obviously three hours won’t be enough time to complete your novel, but you’ll have the entire month of November to finish your project, and over time you can hone and polish it into something great!

DAWG will provide a quiet writing environment and refreshments. So come on out, be among friends and writing enthusiasts, and get started on that novel you’ve always wanted to write.

The Write-In is free and open to the public, but registration is required for planning purposes. Go to www.dallaswriters.org to register.

Time & Location

Saturday, November 4, 2017 12:30 – 3:30 P.M.

DeSoto Civic Center Library Assembly Hall
211 East Pleasant Run Road
DeSoto, TX 75115

I look forward to seeing you there!

Catherine

“Write to Publish: Climbing Toward Success!” Workshop – October 21, 2017

Would you like to take your writing to the next level? Join the Dallas Area Writers Group (DAWG) at our 3rd annual Fall writers’ workshop, “Write to Publish: Climbing Toward Success!” Three well-published authors and one New York Literary Agent will be sharing from their vast reservoir of knowledge the things you need to know to take your writing from drab to fab AND to get your stories published! Go to our website for information and to register! www.dallaswriters.org.

writing-workshop
DAWG Writing Workshop – October 21, 2017