Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Powdered wigs and Civil War soldiers

Well, I said I was going to start writing fiction more, but here's yet another thing in which I have been involved lately.  I actually guided a local trolley tour, filling in for a friend who is a local historian but was under the weather.  Now, keep in mind, when I guided this tour, I was being passed the baton from nationally known, award winning Storyteller Tim Lowry, who had just done the tour before.  In his straw hat and bow tie, he regales passengers with Gullah folk tales and stories about southern cuisine.

And then, there was little old me, whose greatest success was giving away signed copies of my books to passengers who answered questions correctly.  Thankfully, on my tour, the trolley made its first-ever stop at the most historic church in Summerville, where we were delighted by Reverend John Scott greeting us in the attire of an 1800's clergyman!  St. Paul's is wonderful in its own right, with Civil War soldiers buried in the cemetery.  Instead of talking for an hour and a half, I was left with about an hour to fill.  My passengers loved the church and Reverend Scott so much, I had to ask the driver to ring the trolley's bell to get them to get back on!  Here's the story:

Trolley Talk by Barbara Lynch Hill, in the Summerville Journal-Scene

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In With the New, With Weeping and Gnashing of Teeth

Saying goodbye to an old friend is never easy.  When you’re a writer by trade, there’s no denying that your computer is your friend.  It’s your constant companion and your lifeline.  It’s your most important tool.  In the case of a laptop, particularly, it rests for hours on the tops of your legs, almost becoming one with them.  Your fingers become accustomed to the feel of the keys, your wrists to the distance to the keyboard.  You learn its quirks, and I daresay it learns yours, in this creepy age of autofill and autocorrect. 
On my old friend, the letters are worn off of some keys that have become smooth and shiny from faithful service.  The matte finish on the space bar has taken on that same smooth shine on the right side, where my fingerprints wear on it like a stream tumbles over river rocks.
I’ve had my Gateway NV laptop for 4 ½ years.  That’s a long time in electronic device years, especially one with such frequent use.  I’ve known for quite some time that it was “time,” and that I should start looking for a replacement.  So I looked, and looked, and looked.  I looked for months.  I was going to order it from Lenovo, but I just couldn’t pull the trigger.  I was going to get one on sale at Staples that seemed quite good, but I just couldn’t take the plunge.
Shaking my head at myself, I knew what would happen.  I knew I would wait until the Gateway crashed and I was left effectively computerless, shut off from the world, save by smartphone.  One cannot attend to copywriting clients’ needs by smartphone.  Novels can be written on a smartphone, I suppose, but I wouldn’t want to try it.
So I did the very thing I did not want to do, as Paul says in the New Testament.  After a day of struggling with half-loaded internet pages and strange behavior, I knew my friend was ailing.  Then it was confirmed: malware.  At 8pm, I found myself walking through the sliding doors at Best Buy, with a blast of air conditioning blowing my hair back.  “I’m here to buy.  Tonight.  Right now,” I told George, the world’s fastest computer advisor and seller.  I was thankful that they were still open, and that I had such an efficient salesperson.
He helped me select exactly what I said (I thought) I wanted.  I walked out of the store at 8:45pm with a brand new computer.  That’s record time, folks.
This post is the very first thing I have written on it (save Facebook posts, etc.), and I had a devil of a time finding Microsoft Word.  Not sure I can find it again.  Going from Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 is figuratively like a fish learning to live on dry land.  Such drastic changes should be outlawed.  Seriously.
I’ll get used to this one, though, and maybe I should even name it so I won't want to kill it while I get used to it.  We name our cars, so why not our computers?  This may help as I mumble innovative new curse words inspired by Windows 8.1.
So I wave goodbye to my old friend, and lay him to rest under a tombstone without a name.  “Here lies the Gateway NV I loved for 4 ½ years, who gave me very few problems.  Upon him, I wrote my first complete novel and countless short stories.  Now he can run and play in laptop Heaven with the Gateway that got me through law school, the Toshiba that ate too many meaningful files to mention, and the boxy, heavy, old Compaq that operated in "safe mode" for at least its last year of existence.  Well done, Gateway NV.”  Rest in peace, friend.  You deserve it.

Suggest a name for my new laptop in the comments.  Percival?  Fabio?  Lenny the Lenovo?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"Busy:" Not a Good Thing All the Time

Has it really been four months since I last posted?  Oh dear.  I knew this was happening, but I've been sweeping it under the rug.  I have long been neglecting writing.  Oh, my keyboard hasn't been completely idle.  Far from it.  I've been busy with plenty of copywriting projects, which are great.  I enjoy them.  But fiction has been the forgotten kid at day care, who sits in the corner and doesn't have any friends.  It makes me cry.

In addition to copywriting, I also bought a dilapidated 100 year old house and restored and sold it.  Couldn't be more pleased with the results and the buyers, really.  I saved a little piece of my hometown, and it makes my heart sing.

I've been very much involved with my town's trolley tours, and that is extremely rewarding and wonderful.

I've been doing some good reading.  That's definitely a plus.  In fact, I recently finished Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg.  Here's the little semi-review I wrote of it on Squidoo:  Can't Wait to Get to Heaven by Fannie Flagg

To quote Dr. Seuss, "these things are fun, and fun is good."  If I had to pick one thing to edge out, I'm not sure what it would be.  None of them.  But writing fiction has been edged out of my life lately, and I just can't have that.

In truth, this life is so busy, that I really can't wait to get to Heaven.  Busy is not always good.  But when I take a breath and make time, I promise, I will write fiction.  I have to, because it is who I am.

Friday, March 7, 2014

What do you do when you're afraid? (Review of a children's book)

It's a good question.  Everyone experiences fear.  What if you could give your child the best tool for facing his or her fears before life gets big and bad?

Here's a review of a sweet children's book by Max Lucado:

Stuck in a Stinky Den

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Truth: What's in a bad read?

As a writer, I feel compelled to do a lot of reading.  Specifically, I have tried to keep up with the recent trends in writing.  No, I haven't read any sparkly vampire novels.  I don't plan to, either.  But within the last few months, I have read some Sophie Kinsella, some popular non-fiction, and a few up-and-coming Christian authors.  I've also read Clyde Edgerton and Eudora Welty lately, just to balance out trend with true talent and greatness.

I had become aware of a semi-local author, though, who had done extremely well (and shall remain nameless).  I had never read any of her work.  I figured that I should, just in case I ever have the chance to meet her, so I can say, "Oh, I really enjoyed your novel, (whatever title here), and it had a profound impact on the way I see blah blah."  The reason I had never read her work was because it's all just mainstream paperback read-on-the-beach type stuff.  It's not the kind of thing college kids study in English classes.  But I thought there had to be some redeeming quality, since she has made it to the "top," so to speak, in sales.  Like a good student, I embarked upon a quest to find out what that redeeming quality was.

I downloaded one of her books to my Kindle Fire.  

I began to read.

It was horrible.  I mean, it was really, really bad.  The dialogue was extremely contrived.  The characters were completely annoying.  The circumstances were laughably unrealistic and unlikely.  I can't even fathom who her readers are.  This woman must be a fantastic marketer, or at least better at marketing than she is at writing.  I made it to the second or third page, then I just chalked up the dollars I'd spent as a lesson learned.  After that, I felt like I needed a shower, and a whole lot of Fannie Flagg and Flannery O'Connor to bring me back.

So what's the lesson?  That writing junk will make you millions?

Yuck.  I'll make my millions another way, thank you.  Pass the Rick Bragg, please, so I can get back to some good reading.

Have you ever been abysmally disappointed in a book purchase?  If it's my book, please don't tell me about it.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Flash Fiction: Welcome Home

Continuing with the back-to-school theme, please enjoy the following piece of flash fiction:


The slow drip in the kitchen sink went ting for the thousandth time.  She sat by the window, waiting for her boy.  Snapshots of summer flashed in her memory:  riding in the car with the windows down, throwing a ball in the back yard, running on the beach, and falling asleep together to the crickets’ song.  She closed her eyes for a moment and just missed him.

At the sound of the school bus, her white, long-haired tail thumped the floor rhythmically.  Then came the boy’s footsteps on the gravel outside.  She stood up and danced, her claws clacking on the floorboards.  

Master Bedroom

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Pros and Cons of "Back to School"

The smell of fresh school supplies.  The new clothes lined up in the closet, waiting to be worn for the first time.  The quiet solitude in the house with no one driving you crazy 24/7.  Yes, a new school year is a blessed time.

But it comes with its cons, too.  My son and I woke up many summer mornings asking, “What are we going to do today?”  We would then proceed to make an adventure of the day, whether it was a field trip, a project, movie day, or whatever.  I’m going to miss that for the next few months.  What a sweet, fun time it was.

There are other cons, too, though.  No more staying in pajamas until 2pm.  Okay, I only did that twice all summer, and it grossed me out both times.  But seriously, that early morning rush is a price to pay.  You have to get up and make sure the lunchboxes are packed and the homework folders are squared away.  Making breakfast brings its own challenges, too, when your child easily tires of eating the same things over and over.  The mad dash is on, folks.

And as I nearly ran out the door the other morning without brushing my hair, I was reminded of a friend who, last year, accidentally left home without shoes.  She drove her son to school barefoot, walked him in barefoot, and returned home barefoot.  So, in the spirit of the back to school rush, I am reposting the following link about a friend who wore two different shoes to work one day. 

Mismatched shoes

What absent-minded thing have you done when in a rush?