Thursday, June 28, 2012

SCOTUS Ruling & Individual Freedom

I have not used this forum as a springboard for my personal political beliefs, but rather have stuck to writing-related issues. However, I find today that not only can I not abstain from speaking out, but that I am constrained to speak out.

Our nation is teetering on the precipice of blatant socialism, as evidenced most recently in today's shocking decision by the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) to uphold the individual mandate of the so-called Obamacare legislation through the ability of Congress to tax.

Throughout his presidency, Obama has time and time again made decisions based on personal, socialistic beliefs and counsel from his socialistic advisers. One cannot find a more obvious example than Obamacare. Basically, we are headed toward a system where insurance companies (or exchanges) will determine which tests or procedures they will approve reimbursement for and which they won’t. They already do this to a certain extent, but what will increasingly happen is that a well-off individual can afford to pay for the non-reimbursed procedure privately, whereas others cannot, the latter not getting the test or procedure. Don’t be fooled: this is essentially health care rationing. For more information on the effects and ramifications of today's SCOTUS ruling, there is a plethora of information available online and through news media.

The larger issue is this: do we sit by and do nothing, while an increasingly liberal Congress continues to give more and more of our individual rights and freedoms away to oversight by an “all-knowing” government, who thinks they know better than we do what is good for us as individuals? Or, do we stand up and say, “Enough is enough. I refuse to allow my country to continue it’s distressing slide,” and we get out and support our local politicians, and barring that, register and VOTE!

Voting is not only our right, it is our duty. I have heard so many people complain about governmental issues and politicians, about what the complainants agree with and don’t agree with. Then I find out that these same people didn’t exercise the privilege of voting. How can you complain when you didn’t even share your opinion through voting?

Let’s mobilize! Let’s take our country back! Let’s refuse to stand idly by while our freedoms and rights are tromped on and stripped away. Give financially or with your time to your chosen political candidate. If you haven’t already done so, register to vote! Let your voice be heard in a meaningful way. This is such a pivotal year in our country. Don’t allow the rise of socialism; don’t allow Obama to have another term in office.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wondered about Writing Humor?

Writing humor is often perceived as being difficult, but it doesn’t have to be. It is not that you write something that is fall on the floor funny, but it is that you take a fresh perspective on old things. For example, I wrote "Red Hot Scooter Mama" (available here) after going to the grocery store and encountering little demon kids from alien planets with non-existent parents. The article begins with a bow to the width of my feet. I could have just said, my feet are really wide, and because of that I have to ride a scooter around the grocery store.

But that wouldn't have been near as effective as, "Some woman are blessed with slender feet. Not me. Mine are as wide as the Mississippi, and have never sported an arch as lovely and delicate as the one in St. Louis." Immediately, you get a visual image with a spot of humor about my feet. But, by gosh and by golly, who even CARES about my feet? Yet, this article garnered more hits and comments than most of my other posts. Not only that, but it was taken off the blog and posted about on the different groups as a lively conversation ensued.

All about feet and little bratty kids!

The point is, humorous writing can be about anything. You may be thinking, I'm not Erma Bombeck. Exactly. You're who you are, and you write humor with your own bent.

Is there even a market for humor? The answer is a resounding "yes!" For about a year, I wrote a humor column for our local newspaper. If you're willing to write for free, most of the smaller newspapers are open to publishing humor written by local authors. You can post your humor on your blog, or personal website. Additionally, your humor column can grace almost any others website. Google "humor columns" and you'll see where others have marketed their humor.

Some people are under the impression that to be humorous, you have to be a Jay Leno or David Letterman. No, you don't have to tell jokes, you don't have to write cartoons. All you have to do is write about something that is humorous from your point of view. Perhaps about a trip where you lost one of your kids? How about the family cat that got caught in the tree? Or a baby who is just beginning to walk? Humor can be about anything! And once published, you'll find that a lot of people are interested in that spot of humor, too.

So dispel the myth that you cannot write humor. If you find something funny, chances are someone else will find it funny, too.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Critique Groups - A Writer's Best Friend

Some writers will say they don't use a critique group; others wouldn't consider their manuscript polished without the input from one. There are both online critique groups and face-to-face groups. Whether you use a critique group or not is up to you, but there are ways to get the most out of your critique group.

First, a critique group should be comprised of fellow writers who share common goals, and it works best if they're writing in the same genre. For example, if you write children's picture books, and another person writes memoirs, it fits best if you join a group that writes picture books and let the other find a memoir group. Look at it this way: if you have a forest green couch, and your partner buys a bright orange floral couch, there won't be a good fit in the living room!

Second, a critique group should be comprised of a small group of people, usually no more than five or six, who are committed to each other and helping each other polish their manuscript. Most online groups work that one writer submits a piece to the rest of the group and expects a critique back by the end of the week. Face-to-face groups can work the same way as well, with the piece to be critiqued sent via email a week prior to the next group meeting. Obviously, in either of these situations, it wouldn't work well to have more than five or six people because of the long time between critiques.

Third, when you join a critique group, you have the right to expect honesty in the critique from your fellow group members. Honesty, however, does not equal brutality. Just as there is always writing in the submission that needs addressing, there are good points in that person's writing as well. The good critiquer will point out not only errors, but also the places where the writer did a great job. Brutal honesty has no place in a critique, as it can damage and discourage fellow writers.

Fourth, as a group grows and changes together, relationships develop between the writers, and these relationships can foster a sense of comradeship and security. I have been in groups where the writers have bared their souls to each other in their writing, and did so knowing they wouldn't be slammed. The development of these relationships can extend beyond the critique group, and are an important part of networking with others.

Critique groups can help polish a manuscript and further the career of any writer, often times resulting in relationships that will carry through the rest of the writers lives. Whether or not you join such a group is your decision, but membership in a good critique can be a writer's best friend.