Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Grandmother's Poem - In memory of Caleb Gavin Fuson


In just a short moment,
you became the softness
beneath my smile,

In just a short moment,
you became the twinkle
in my eyes,

In just a short moment,
you were my dreams
of the future,

The things we would do,
The things I would teach you,
The things you would teach me
In just a short moment we shared,
A lifetime of love,

And then you were gone,
To sleep with the angels.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Can Children See Ghosts/Spirits?

I’ve often found this an interesting question, as my only true experience of actually seeing what I knew had to be a ghost occurred at the age of five. Many times I’ve observed children with “imaginary” play friends, and now that I think back on it wonder just how imaginary those friends really were.

Coby and I occasionally experience what appears to be some type of paranormal activity in our home. Not often, and usually not anything drastic, just little things that truthfully could be explained as normal most of the time. Once or twice in the last month I’ve actually felt like there was someone here. One of those weird feelings that someone is standing in the dining room, or in my office.

Occasionally my computers will come on by themselves, or go off. Going off isn’t a problem, as all computers shut down at times, but the turning on or switching windows isn’t all that normal.

Night before last we were sitting out front with the neighbors. The front door was open and the kitchen light was on giving an inner view of the living room and kitchen beyond. Our neighbors’ three year old little boy came up and sat in her lap. He kept staring at our door, and finally piped up: “There’s someone in your house and it’s a ghost.” I looked at his mother and she tried to shush him, telling him there wasn’t a ghost in our house. I’ve never heard our neighbor discuss ghosts or spirits, and little Ben has been to my house many times and never have I heard him mention ghosts. But he insisted that there was one in my house that night, and he’d seen “him”.

I don’t really know what type of TV Ben watches, but his mother is a kindergarten teacher, and both parents are rather strict on the boys leading me to believe it’s very doubtful that they’re watching the type of television shows that would lead to them believing in ghosts.

That night I kept hearing things in the back room, and after I went to bed I kept hearing noises like someone was walking up and down the hall. At one point I “felt” that someone was standing in the bedroom door, but I, of course, could see no one.

If children actually do see ghosts/spirits it would be interesting to study that field of the paranormal as to why. Is there something different about our eyes as children that allows us to see things we don’t see as adults? Do ghosts/spirits reveal themselves to children because they have no fear of rejection from children?

Most adults who have paranormal experiences immediately doubt what they’ve seen, and start making excuses for it. And if ghosts/spirits do reveal themselves to children, then that would mean they have control of who sees them and who doesn’t. Interesting theory, but only theory, as we have no scientific proof that ghosts/spirits even exist.

I have a site I’ve been monitoring now for several years. I think I’m going to make some video tapes of children at play, old birthday parties, etcetera and play it there next time I go. See if the laughter of children and their chatter has any effect on the paranormal activity in this area. It may not help, but as I’ve learned in the past—it can’t hurt.

So, what do you believe? Can children see ghosts/spirits?

October Special - Jacody Ives Mystery Series 99 Cents each

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By Jim Fay - See all my reviews

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This review is from: The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery (Jacody Ives Mysteries) (Kindle Edition)
I really liked this book. But although this is the first one written about Jacody Ives, there is a recently released a prequel titled "Sacred Secrets." That's the book to start with.

"The Gifts" is a supernatural mystery thriller. I'd like to say I couldn't put it down, but honestly, I don't read that fast and I do need sleep at night and still have to go to work each day. So it took me a few days to read it. But it was a fun ride, and the suspense kept me wanting to know what happened next.

I hope it's not too long before Prather's next book. I'm hooked. Unless something unexpected happens, I will read anything she writes.

The Gifts, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Sacred Secrets, A Jacody Ives Mystery

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Writing - Show Don't Tell

Sounds simple doesn’t it? After all it is one of the very first rules of writing. Every beginning author hears it countless times. “I like your idea, but you need to show not tell.” Okay, so you’re scratching your head and asking yourself, what the heck does that mean? I’m telling a story, so what do you want me to show you?

Unfortunately, critiques often offer this type of advice, with little input of what the critiquer (is that really a word?) wants you to do. They want you to do what every great author does—allows you to travel with the characters, see what they see, feel what they feel, and share the passion, the love, the fear, the majestic journey from page 1 all the way to the end of the book. It isn’t enough that you’ve written a great story, unless your readers can see, feel and live that story through your characters eyes.

Copyright laws will prohibit me from publishing some of what I truly felt was the most beautifully artistic showing/not telling writing that I have had the opportunity to read. Okay, I know, you read my earlier review of this book and you know I haven’t been able to really finish reading it. That has nothing to do with the fact that the author is a master at showing and not telling.

In Dean Koontz “One Door Away From Heaven” there’s a scene where young Curtis and his dog are fleeing from the people trying to kill them. In reading this chapter you’ll not only see what Curtis sees, you’ll feel his tension, his fear, his desperation and his tiredness as he runs further and further. You’ll basically have the opportunity to see the stars, feel the thudding of his feet, and truly become young Curtis in his flight. That’s mastery of showing/not telling. You want to create not just a scene, but a vivid visual mood with rhythm that propels the reader on to the next scene.

The majority of people experience some type of visual perception of thoughts, words and emotions. The books I enjoy the most are the ones that are almost movie-like in their approach to showing. I use my imagination to create the pictures, but the author has laid the groundwork for those images, moods and rhythm I’m going to follow.

My first draft is usually far from the standard of “show don’t tell”. It is a basic draft or outline of the complete story. Only when it’s finished do I go back in and see where I fell short.

Rhythm and mood can be accomplished not only through vivid scenery, and descriptive characters, but also punctuation. I look at each sentence from the standpoint of “am I really feeling this” or “how could I say it better?” And then I start my rewrite. My foundation is there – the complete story. I know that story by heart, but my readers won’t. I love my characters, but unless I give the reader a reason to love them they may find them somewhat lacking. So my rewrite is basically a spruce it up, musical exercise in rhythm. Do my words flow or does a reader have to stop and wonder why there’s a comma there?

Every author, especially beginning authors should spend as much time reading as you do writing. Read everything you can. Study the author’s style, their word expressions. Does it work for you? Can you feel it? If yes, then study their punctuation style, and notice the rhythm of the sentences. That doesn’t mean you want to adapt your style to the author’s style. If it isn’t truly “your” style it simply won’t work for you. And the best way to learn this lesson is to join a critique group. Not for your own work so much, but so that you read the work of other writers and try to help them make it better. By seeing the mistakes you feel they’re making, you’ll more easily recognize your own mistakes. Once again – every author should spend as much time reading as writing.

First, let me say up front I’m no Dean Koontz. I’m still learning, and will be learning I’m sure for years to come. But in expressing an example of show don’t tell I’m going to share an excerpt from Sacred Secrets. If I had the first draft available for this scene you would understand the rewrite. Basically the rough draft detailed her finding the article, a few tears, blah, blah, blah. That wasn’t what I wanted to convey. I wanted to convey the depth of her feelings. “. . .until she came to one that froze her fingers, stilled the beating of her heart.” Hopefully I accomplished just a little of that. All of us at one time have seen, heard, or experienced something that made us pause, only to find ourselves involuntarily moving toward that scene. Real life. And in showing real life experiences are the best.

Sitting forward again Katie altered her search, typing in Dr. James Arthur and Camp Hope. The page came up quickly, showing entries one through ten of 1,210,000. Okay, so it wasn’t going to be easy. Undaunted she scanned the first page, reading through the descriptions until she came to the one that froze her fingers, stilled the beating of her heart. Her finger moved involuntarily on the mouse, double clicking on the article. Warm brown eyes gazed out at her. Eyes she remembered.
The article was a beautiful memorial to the young man who had devoted his life to helping terminally ill children. His struggle to get other doctors involved, bring the children together to share their frustration, anger and hurt. A one-man crusade for organ donation.
Katie wiped the tears from her face as she continued to read. It was all there. The camp. Even the huge oak tree outside the main building. The house at Twelve-ten Chantilly Lane. The only difference--it was in Pendleton, Oregon, not Washington. And it had all been destroyed by fire twenty-five years ago.
Grief rippled through her as she read how Dr. Arthur had sacrificed his life in an effort to save a young woman trapped on the second floor of his home. A young woman in a wheelchair. A twelve-year-old heart patient named Clover Bottoms.
A smiling photo of Frank Davis flashed on the screen as the article detailed the bravery of the young camp volunteer that had followed Dr. Arthur into the fire with no thought for his own safety.
Katie heard the sobs, not realizing they were coming from her. Deep painful sobs that twisted her insides, exposing raw nerves, cramping her muscles. She bent forward, rocking back and forth as tortured moans escaped her lips.
“Follow your heart, Katie.”

If you’ve ever suffered true grief, the kind that cramps your muscles, and causes you to bend forward, rocking back and forth—you totally understand how Katie feels in this scene. And even if you haven’t suffered that type of grief, you may have seen it.

Showing and not telling isn’t as simple as it sounds. You need to use a combination of visual moods, emotions, body language and punctuation. However, the more you place your scene as a “real life” scene, visualize it in your mind, the easier the concept will be to you, and the easier it will be to make your characters and your story come to life.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Washington Mutual, J. P. Chase, FDIC and Providian - A consumer question

Since the failure of Washington Mutual and seizure by the FDIC on 8/25/08 consumers have asked questions to no avail. Now consumers are asking even more questions, and attempting to trace their assets. I have a legitimate question for all of them in that I'd love to know how J. P. Chase wound up with Providian Financial accounts in this matter, as according to records on file, Providian Financial ceased to exist in March of 2009 after merger into New American Capital, Inc.

New American Capital, Inc. was not part of Washington Mutual's direct or indirect subsidiaries in their SEC filings for early 2008. This led me to do some additional research into what actually happened to Providian Financial. New American Capital, Inc was a Delaware corporation, so I started my search there. On 11/1/07 - a little less than one year before the FDIC seizure, New American Capital, Inc. was merged into Mercer Acquisition, LLC a Nevada Corporation. Providian Financial accounts would have followed this merger. I contacted the Nevada Division of Corporations and Mercer Acquisition, LLC was dissolved immediately after the merger with New American Capital, Inc.

Dissolved. So what happened to the Providian Financial accounts? And why is J. P. Chase claiming ownership, and collecting on these accounts? Sure, Washington Mutual by merger received the Providian National Bank accounts, but my understanding of this corporate hierarchy was the Providian Financial also owned accounts, including credit card accounts.

I read another consumer question this morning related to another "subsidiary" that appears to have disappeared prior to the seizure also. Perhaps someone out there has answers, but the public is being kept in the dark by everyone concerned in this matter, and the citizens of the United States who had placed their trust and confidence in these organizations are the ones who have suffered losses related to the failure of Washington Mutual Bank, the Purchase and Assignment agreement between the FDIC and J. P. Chase (which as of August 30, 2010 was still not finalized)and the bankruptcy filing of Washington Mutual, Inc. It's definite to the American public, if not to regulators, that there indeed had to be some subterfuge and collusion between these organizations. Anyone with common sense would know a bank isn't seized on one day, sold on basically the same day, and bankruptcy filed the next day by a corporation as huge as Washington Mutual, Inc. without there having been some collusion between these organizations.

The American public wants answers, and I believe it's time for one or more of these companies to provide those answers.

I intend to spend some time in the near future researching all the subsidiaries of WAMU and WMI prior to their seizure. Wonder how many were actually merged out and dissolved, or sold? And wonder where the proceeds from those mergers, acquisitions or sales went? Bet all the misplaced workers who stand to lose their pensions, stock holders, investors and depositors would also like to know that information.