“Fireworks & Freedom” by Bud Hearn
“And it shall come to pass afterward, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions…” Joel 2:28
What we have here is a minor 9th Century BC prophet projecting his prognostication of great blessings which God promises to pour out on His people in the future. While he probably did not have America in mind, per se, who can ignore the fulfillment of this prophesy in the founding and maintaining of our great land? And tomorrow we’ll again celebrate this blessing.
Soon the skies of our Homeland will explode in celebration of the birthday of Independence Day, a dream come true. It marks the 242nd anniversary of our Republic. But what exactly will we be celebrating?
Freedom, that’s what, fruit that has matured from the Tree of Vision nurtured by courageous men and women, young and old. These patriots pledged their lives and fortunes to fulfill the deepest dream of mankind…Liberty. The Declaration of Independence is the Word, the seed of that powerful dream, a dream that beats in the heart of every citizen.
What is Freedom? A chimerical wish-list envisioned by idle daydreamers? Some romantic notion devised by Utopian idealists? Hardly. The poet, Gibran, writes, “(Vague) and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not their end…that which seems most feeble and bewildered in you is the strongest and most determined…and if you could hear the whispering of the dream, you would hear no other sound.” Thankfully, our ancestors heard that whisper. Do we?
From what compost is Freedom conceived? Often from the exploited detritus of oppression, enslavement, tyranny and brutality. It seethes in obscurity. It endures beneath the turf of tyrants, despots and dictators. When it can no longer be suppressed, its collective voice shouts, “No more!” It then rises from darkness into a tsunami of unrestrained power.
All births are bloody. Travail precedes each. Ben Franklin and a friend once watched a hot air balloon exhibit in a field of France. The balloon rose slowly from the ground, floated over trees, and landed in a nearby field. Peasant farmers with pitchforks, ignorant and fearful, attacked it.
The friend remarked, “What good was that experiment?”
Franklin replied, “What good is any new-born baby?”
Freedom begins as a baby. But it grows, changes, dreams of its own destiny. America’s experiment with Freedom is older now, but no less vibrant. The baby is maturing, and it’s changing.
How does Freedom consist, hold together? Is it by milquetoast methods of submission to the winds of fortune? Or is it by, as Churchill said in England’s dark hours of WW II, “…blood, toil, tears and sweat…?” All revolutions and preservations of Freedom are achieved not by slick rhetoric, but by the shedding of blood. America’s experiment with Freedom is no different.
Is our dream of Freedom in jeopardy? Has it become a faded billboard for rent, cheap? A fast-food court of entitlements, tawdry trinkets and handouts to appease the masses? A nation of freeloaders and pilferers of the public treasury? Free everything…healthcare, food stamps, welfare checks, mortgages, you-name-it? Are we like drunks, sucking the dregs of the Dream at the bottom of a bottle of debt, celebrity politics and self-gratification? Scary thoughts.
Again, this year the fireworks extravaganzas will bring to remembrance Francis Scott Key’s words, “…and the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air, gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” And that’s what we need…a constant reminder that the horror of darkness has not extinguished our flag, the symbol of enduring Freedom.
On Wednesday the Spirit of Liberty will blow softly in the breezes. Firecrackers, both real and symbolic, will beat back the night for a little while longer. After the parades, picnics, BBQ, hot dogs, beer, watermelons and heartburn, we’ll sleep soundly, nurtured in the comfort of Freedom. But not all of us.
Somewhere on a dusty desolate plain a soldier with a weapon will keep a night watch. Somewhere a baby will be born. Their lives will merge with old men who still dream dreams, and with young men who still see visions.
Every generation has the power to retain or forfeit this Dream and Vision of Freedom. Which will we choose?
But for today, The Dream and the Vision live on. Now, begin the parades. God bless America.
July 3, 2018
Old Post Cards
Courtesy of Eugene Lovett
The post cards are a piece of history, but the NARRATIVE at the end really tells the story of the current culture…..
While being a Helicopter Crew Chief Instructor, I’d go to Washington DC, with a few buddies almost every weekend. We’d do the Smithsonian and all.
On the way back to Ft. Eustis (125 miles), we’d often stop for something to eat.
One time, it was getting late. We landed in Falls Church, VA. We saw an old general store that was still open. We walked around on the old creaky floors looking for Frito’s or something? I came across, an old wire frame post card holder. It was full of WWII post cards …. Penny a piece!
I asked the guy, “How much do you want for the Post Cards?” He said, “A penny.” He explained that they had been there ever since he was a kid.
I counted them … 300 plus. I gave him $4.00 and I got the rack, too.
In San Diego , I sold a bunch for $1.00 each. I still have a bunch to hand down.
I know some of you are too young to recall these posters and WWII, but they were a part of my life and others who are now “older than dirt”. These are great. Pass them along, especially to your older e-mail friends. I wonder whatever happened to this kind of thinking.
I got a lump in my throat when I read this. I “grew up” thinking: patriotism, it is the AMERICAN way! I am glad to see that somebody saved them. The statement at the end says it all!
These were our parents. What in God’s name have we let happen?
I guess we are the last generation to see, or even remember anything like these!
Political correctness (or “re-education”) happened,
Lack of personal responsibility happened,
Lack of personal integrity and honesty happened,
Lack of respect and loyalty to our country happened,
Lack of being an American happened.
Did all of these things die along with common sense?
I for one am still proud to be an American!
If you are too …. Pass this along, so others can show their pride.
“Let me control the TEXTBOOKS and I will control the state.”……Adolph Hitler
The Weakly Post
The Tongue is a Fire
“The tongue is a fire…and it is set on fire of hell.”
It was a long time ago and far away when the Apostle penned this theorem. He was sitting under a date palm near the Dead Sea discussing women with his tongue-tied camel.
The validity of the theory was confirmed later that day when with a slip of the tongue he mentioned to his wife something about, “That’s woman’s work.” His tongue ignited a flame that burns in infamy to this day.
The tongue is a torch. It ignites. Sparks from words fly off and can set on fire the course of nature. The tongue is an unruly evil. It’s impossible to tame.
I learned this lesson the hard way. I was born with a forked tongue. It manipulated facts and fabricated untruths. I was five or six at the time. I had discovered some packets of what looked like candy. Like a dog, I ate anything. I remember exactly how the events unfolded.
“Son, what are you eating?” Mama asked.
“Uh, candy grandmama gave me,” I said. The deceit slid off my tongue like greased lightening. I didn’t even have to think about it. There I stood, drooling. Five packs of empty Rolaids wrappers lay scattered about my feet. The severe tongue-lashing and stinging switch-thrashing convinced me that the tongue was not my friend.
Tongues wag uncontrollably. They’re attached in the mouth but lack connectivity to the brain, clearly a flaw in the original human design. No doubt it originated in some mythic fruit tree garden. Sadly, medical science cannot correct the glitch.
Tongues boast great things. This is the main use of it among men. It becomes quite lively after vast infusions of firewater. The context of such wagging tends to be centered on exaggerated achievements concerning money, athletics and embellished, tongue-in-cheek youthful dalliances. Not necessarily in this order, and nothing believable!
Shakespeare made this discovery by accident while nursing a hangover. He passed it on to Polonius who warned Ophelia, “…(when) the blood burns, how prodigal the soul lends the tongue vows.” The tongue boasts more than it can back up. Ask any politician.
The tongue’s fire begins as a spark in the back of the mouth. It roars forward at warp speed, gathers a host of demons and exits the tongue’s tip with a searing flame…too late for a recall.
My friend Marvin, a renowned deep thinker, forgot to bite his tongue when his wife asked him how her new dress looked. His tongue betrayed him. His knee-jerk response went something like this: “It makes you look fat.”
“Just kidding,” he added, tongue-in-cheek. His apology was so shallow it was like trying to put out a house fire by spitting on the roof. Marvin now lives alone in Ludowici, thinking about what went wrong.
Last September was the anniversary of Einstein’s profound equation: E = mc2. It simply states that a tiny mote of mass can yield enormous energy. In fact, the nuclear bomb that exploded over Nagasaki contained less than an ounce of plutonium. Einstein made this discovery by accident.
One evening he came home, frustrated from thinking. The equation was eluding him. A stiff nip of rye sharpened his tongue. In his best Yiddish he snapped at his wife, “Velkh iz oyf varmes, eyfele?” Translated, it’s “What’s for dinner, baby.” E = mc2 came to him at the precise moment when the matzah ball exploded on his forehead.
Others have made such discoveries. I once remember commenting to my wife with a smug, silver tongue that nobody made banana pudding like mama. For some reason banana pudding has not been in our refrigerator since that comment. Such is the power of words.
Is there hope for the taming of the tongue? Nothing yet has been discovered that will mitigate the damage caused by this double-edged sword. I found this out again the hard way only last week.
We’re pulling out the Halloween paraphernalia. Among such is a sign board that reads, “The Witch Is In.” I show it to my wife. We laugh. She leans it against the pumpkin on the front steps. My tongue suggests we should nail it to the door permanently. Only a pitiful, “Oops” escaped my lips. Too little, too late.
Out there in the vibrations of digital arcana the tweeting tongue twitters…and the fires of hell begin to rage.
October 20, 2017
- You don’t need to use every tool and speck of an idea in your current story.
- Pick only what this particular story needs or overload can break your creative back.
- Lay out enough of a plot to get you going and stick to it.
- Sidestep potholes as you must but stick to your plan or you’ll likely careen off the road altogether.
- Skip over troublesome words and jump over awkward scenes. Put a XX placeholder in those spots and just keep writing.
We see lots of pictures of wounded male veterans but women in the military get wounded and maimed too.
You may need to take a second, closer look though. The first thing I saw was a bunch of beautiful smiles.
Study this picture again. Let the story it tells sink in. These women and many others, as well as their male comrades, paid this price for our freedoms.
And, they did it for less than what welfare recipients are paid!!!
DID YOU GET THAT?!?
And a lot less than those over-paid athletes who choose to “take a knee” when the National Anthem is played!!!
They risked these injuries (or death) FOR AMERICA!
MAY GOD BLESS ALL OF THEM!!! https://t.co/wbIjQ0ix4X
A way to help victims of Harvey
No color, no religion, no nationality should come between us, we are all children of God.
- Mother Teresa
If you are able to shelter a pet or allow a family to stay with you until they can find accommodations, you would be the hands and feet of Jesus. These people have lost it all. I am unable to imagine my loved ones left in a nursing home flooded with water, my pets or livestock unable to get away, all my cherished possessions floating out to sea, my car or home under water, etc. Yes, I was once told by a wise woman whom I love dearly, “Don’t get attached to anything that is not breathing.” Well, so many have.
Pray, donate, open your minds to what is possible and just do it. Use the money you would have wasted on a lottery ticket, a bottle of wine, a carton of cigarettes, a dinner and a movie, the pair of shoes you did not need, etc.
Mother Teresa was so right. No matter our differences, we are all children of the Most High God. He told us the most important things we can do is “To love the Lord thy God with all your heart, your mind, and your soul, and to love thy neighbor as thyself.” If you were cold, wet, and without your home, car, pets, food, what would you need?
God bless you all, and God bless America!! (Remember, all donations to either are tax deductible.)
Where to Donate for Harvey Victims
In response to the outpouring of community generosity, the City of Irving wants to remind residents it cannot accept any donations – monetary or in-kind – for Harvey victims and evacuees. However, individuals can make donations to Irving Cares, The Salvation Army and the American Red Cross. * Irving Cares: IrvingCares.org * The Salvation Army: SalvationArmyUSA.org * American Red Cross: RedCross.org In addition, blood and platelet donations are in serious need by medical facilities. Healthy individuals who want to donate are encouraged to contact: * American Red Cross: RedCrossBlood.org * Carter Blood Care: CarterBloodCare.org; (800) 787-3621 Lively Pointe cannot accept donations. Please contact the organizations listed above for all donations. The city is currently hosting Harvey evacuees at Lively Pointe Youth Center that arrived via plane from affected areas. However, the facility is not accepting walk-ins or evacuees in private vehicles. Individuals needing shelter are encouraged to call 211 for a list of available shelters in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Reflections on America this 4th of July
As I edit the manuscript Treason on the Mississippi by Jack Martin, and ponder the hell our great nation has gone through — all the birthing pains, learning to walk, to run, and to soar — I am reminded of so many great men, leaders and grunts alike. As in any chain, we are only as strong as the weakest link. “One nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.”
Many great, original quotes in this novel were profound for that era, but they can also be easily applied to us now. Here are a few I would like to share:
- “It is well to remember, some days are better than others, and there is a world of tomorrows.” — Bierce
- “There are all kinds of slavery; not all of them involve physical chains and formal bills of sale.” -— Lot
- “I bore it, for my father’s sake. He told me this was now the white man’s country, and that I should go to his schools and learn his ways, for it was no sense to wish for yesterday to come again. Still, it was years before I understood fully what he meant when he said it would take more courage to live than to die in battle.” — Major Parker
- “Sir, I mean no disrespect; but I would pose this question: if someone cannot resist the pull to treason, how can they be expected to show gratitude for mercy?” — Clay
- “I would answer your question with a question, Captain. If someone has once killed to no purpose, how could they be relied upon not to do so in the future? Well, Captain, if it consoles you, it may come to what you desire. If they surrender, most will live to see their homes again. But if they do not surrender, then I will maintain this siege until every, last one of them starves, if that is what it takes to possess Vicksburg. Someone must want mercy before it can be granted. Let’s hope that Pemberton realizes the hopelessness of his situation.” Grant took a pull on his cigar and grimaced.
- “Alphonso, there’s been cruelty and injustice since the Fall,” said Lot quietly to his cousin and friend. “You can’t solve it all; you can only keep from adding to it.”
- “This whole war is inappropriate, Captain. One can either jeer at the folly of man or go mad with the tragedy of it; I prefer to jeer.” — Bierce
- “Here, here,” chimed in the fidgety Sherman, who was constantly shifting about in his chair, thin fingers drumming incessantly on the table. “I’ve supply difficulties to attend to. Steamer with all kinds of things destined for my corps blew up today, somewhere south of Memphis. Only good thing about the disaster is there were half a dozen newspapermen aboard. I guess we’ll have the news from Hell by breakfast.”
- “There is a great truth hidden in those lines. People who commit treason seldom admit, even to themselves, they are so doing. They justify it by appeals to ‘states’ rights,’ ‘the people’s will,’ ‘the greater good,’ etc., and know if they are successful, they will be hailed as great men, not traitors. However, it is still treason in my eyes.” — Clay
Now consider how political parties and the media are forcing a united country to choose sides yet again — not North and South, but Democrat or Republican. Parties be damned! We are all Americans who want this country to thrive, not survive. We must think of it as our HOME. No one wants druggies, burglars, robbers, rapists, murderers, or terrorists in their homes, nor do we want them in our land. Extreme vetting is necessary. It’s hard enough policing legal citizens, but when you have those here you can’t account for, how can you? Look these words up: nefarious and malevolent. Those who come here and seemingly assimilate into our society with nefarious and malevolent intentions are not our friends. They are here to harm us.
In the same way, the media or celebrities that do not tell the truth (Walter Cronkite has gone to be with Jesus and he was the last true journalist) and assist in blocking, disrespecting, and hindering the president on every turn, is not a loyalist but a traitor. If they despise the USA so much, they can turn in their passports and leave. You are either with us or without us.
All President Trump wants is the best for us, just like President Lincoln did, who was determined to keep the Union, no matter the cost. We must adhere to the Constitution, which was founded in Biblical principles, support President Trump, and stand united against all evil, political and spiritual, around the globe.
We have come a long way for such a young country, endured many wars and hardships, but only together shall we move forward with confidence to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!
- Jeanie Loiacono
I believe God wants you to know…
three is the most important…
“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity” Proverbs 17:17
There are a wide variety of friends. Some are your friend when you have something to offer them. Others are friends as long as you ask nothing of them. Still others offer their support as long as times are good and they can share in your success. But what about when you fall on hard times?
One of the many benefits of difficult times is that it reveals who your true friends are! They are the ones who draw nearer to you in difficult times rather than moving to a safe distance. They are the ones who suffer with you rather than letting you endure your pain alone. They are the ones who would not think of you facing your trials alone. They are also the ones who believe in you and know you will overcome your adversity.
Think about the last time you went through a difficult time. Who was the first person you wanted to call? Who was the first person to call you? Who meant the most to you when you suffered hardship? When times are good, friends are relatively easy to come by. But how grateful we are for those friends who stick by us when we enter into times of adversity!
— Blackaby Spiritual Leadership, Shari Black
Today we honor and remember those who have dedicated their lives to democracy and the United States of America. Although we see and hear from some veterans that are determined to keep those soldiers’ memories alive, there are millions of other vets we will never know of; names that are not on the walls or in history books, those who did not wear a uniform but supported our troops and defended our country. Some have not and will not ever come home. Buried in mass POW graves or at the bottom of the sea, their families have only photos and stories; nowhere to lay a wreath. Their service was not in vain…
Today, across this home we call Earth, we can go to sleep knowing we are protected in “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” — because of them. A moment does not go by that I am not thankful for being a child of our Most High God whose love endures forever, and to be an American citizen, a proud and humbling privilege. Yes, privilege, not entitlement. Servicemen and women have sacrificed all so we can be free. It is an atrocity for anyone with their feet on American soil to complain, defame, criticize, or terrorize ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave.’ Let us stand unified in blessing and encouraging our President, our troops, and The Greatest Nation in the World, The United States of America. God bless America!
- Jeanie Loiacono
WE SHOULD REMEMBER…
1. The American Cemetery at Aisne-Marne, France.. A total of 2289
2. The American Cemetery at Ardennes, Belgium… A total of 5329
3. The American Cemetery at Brittany, France… A total of 4410
4. Brookwood, England – American Cemetery… A total of 468
5. Cambridge, England… A total of 3812
6. Epinal, France – American Cemetery.. A total of 5525
7. Flanders Field, Belgium… A total of 368
8. Florence, Italy… A total of 4402
9. Henri-Chapelle, Belgium… A total of 7992
10. Lorraine , France… A total of 10,489
11 .Luxembourg, Luxembourg… A total of 5076
12. Meuse-Argonne.. A total of 14246
13 .Netherlands, Netherlands… A total of 8301
14. Normandy, France… A total of 9387
15. Oise-Aisne, France… A total of 6012
16. Rhone, France… A total of 861
17. Sicily, Italy… A total of 7861
18. Somme, France… A total of 1844
19. St. Mihiel, France… A total of 4153
20. Suresnes, France… A total of 1541
Apologize to no one. Remind those of our sacrifice and don’t Confuse arrogance with leadership. The count is 104,366 Dead, brave Americans.
And we had to watch Obama, an American elected leader who apologized to
Europe and the Middle East that our country is “arrogant”! HOW MANY FRENCH,
DUTCH, ITALIANS, BELGIANS AND BRITS ARE BURIED ON OUR SOIL… AFTER
DEFENDING US AGAINST OUR ENEMIES?
WE DON’T ASK FOR PRAISE…BUT WE HAVE ABSOULUTELY NO NEED TO APOLOGIZE!
” Courage is being scared to death – but saddling up anyway.” John Wayne_
EDITING FOR STRONG WRITING
By Linda Kasten, literary agent, Loiacono Literary Agency, and author of Castle of Cards
You’ve completed your novel, worked and reworked your plot, subplots, setting, characterization, point of view, theme—all elements required to create an alternate universe. Once you’ve done the heavy lifting, you’re now ready to tackle the real work: editing.
Editing can unfold in many forms. Scenes may need to be rearranged, paragraphs deleted, clearer settings rewritten, and viewpoints fixed. But what many writers fail to apply to their editing is strong writing—fixing the words and sequences one uses sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph.
What is strong writing, you may ask? It’s the difference between a writer and an amateur.
Lazy verbs. In today’s world, the search function on your software program will become your best friend. One of the most overused words in a manuscript is “was.” Reword every sentence possible to eliminate the words “are/was/is/were” and paint a more visual picture using strong verbs.
Example: John was the team’s best player and had a gift for fastballs.
John’s fastballs made him the team’s best player.
Present participles. When writing in past tense, do not confuse completed action with continuous action. Present participles used incorrectly detract from the meaning and from the action’s immediacy.
Example: Eliza was running through the field with her kite.
Eliza ran through the field with her kite.
Or even better: Eliza charged through the field with her kite.
Always look for the strongest verb for the most precise image you want to convey.
That/Who(m)/Which. Nine times out of ten, you do not need these crutch words. Use that as an adjective only, or use that when the sentence needs clarity. A writer might be surprised how many times that shows up in his manuscript.
Example: The wind roared so ferociously that the windows in the dining room flew open.
The wind roared so ferociously the windows in the dining room flew open.
The man who is training for the job scored well on the test.
The man training for the job scored well on the test.
Gestures: Keep body language to a minimum when using dialogue. No need for smiling, nodding, shrugging, looking, eyebrow raising, head shaking, sighing, etc. There’s nothing interesting about them unless you are unable to convey body language through the dialogue. Sometimes action with dialogue adds more drama and serves as a better choice. Breathe, inhale, exhale, and adrenaline are also becoming redundant in writing. Describe emotions more creatively.
Speaking of Dialogue: Minimize dialogue tags. When two characters chat back and forth, you can limit the use of ‘she said,’ ‘he said.’ Also, inserting action to break up dialogue provides a better option.
Example: “That was a great show,” said Margaret.
“It was entertaining,” said John.
Margaret asked, “Would you like to hang out a bit?”
“I don’t have to get home just yet,” John answered. “I’m game.”
“How about some pizza?” asked Margaret.
“That was a great show,” said Margaret.
John stuffed his cell phone into his pocket. “It was entertaining.”
“Would you like to hang out a bit?”
“I don’t have to get home just yet. I’m game.”
“How about some pizza?”
Also, be stingy on addressing characters in dialogue. When we speak, we do not say:
Example: “Well, John, what did you think about the show?”
“It was entertaining, Margaret.”
“John, would you like to hang out a bit?”
“I don’t have to get home just yet. I’m game, Margaret.”
It is reasonable to have a name addressed occasionally in dialogue to remind the reader who is speaking, but when the reader knows which character is speaking, it is not necessary to have one character address another in every statement. Be frugal.
Delete Redundancies: Past history, sky above, hung down, ceiling overhead, whispered softly, end result, etc. You’d be surprised how many of these combinations invade a manuscript.
Be Specific: Whenever the opportunity arises for improved descriptions, use specific images. Instead of saying dog, name a breed. Instead of car, tell us the make.
‘Of’ phrases: Another fun task for your computer search is checking your manuscript for of the and make them possessive.
Example: The arc of the rainbow showed four pastel colors.
The rainbow’s arc showed four pastel colors.
However, avoid double possessives – grandma’s cat’s food bowl.
Would: Whenever depicting habitual action, use the past tense rather than would.
Example: Each afternoon, Aunt Bev would fix tea and cookies.
Each afternoon, Aunt Bev fixed tea and cookies.
Appear to/seem to: These are weakeners. Reword you sentence.
Example: The sun appeared to shake in the sky.
The sun shook in the sky.
The sun seemed to shake in the sky.
The sun shook in the sky.
There was/there were: Eliminate sentence structures using there was and there were.
Example: There were doves flying in the sky.
Doves flew in the sky.
Adverbs: Most writers have heard strong verbs can do a better job than using adverbs.
However, an o casional “ly” word is fine where appropriate. Adverbs to ax from your sentences as they will never be missed are: very, actually, totally, completely, absolutely, definitely, certainly, perfectly, probably, basically, literally, virtually, etc.
More Qualifiers and Vague Words: Eliminate these unnecessary words: a bit, a little, fairly, highly, just, kind of, mostly, pretty, quite, rather, really, slightly, so, somewhat, sort of, some, interesting, almost.
Prepositional phrases: When using out of, you do not always need of. All of the should be all the and sometimes just all. The same for off of; remove of.
Examples: He went out of the door.
He went out the door.
He went all of the way to the store.
He went all the way to the store.
He took the pot off of the stove.
He took the pot off the stove.
Also, prepositions and conjunctions are described as glue words. If your sentence word count contains more than 45% of these glue words, time to rework it.
Body Parts: This is a fun one, right? Never have body parts act on their own.
Examples: Her hand waved.
She waved her hand.
Her eyes fell on the page in front of her.
Her gaze fell on the page in front of her.
Began to/Started to: Your characters shouldn’t begin to or start to do anything unless a specific task requires.
Examples: She began to cry.
He started to brush the dog.
He brushed the dog.
Sentences Beginning with It: Limit referring to everything as “it.” Using specific words or word variations provide clearer images.
And and But: Starting sentences with and or but isn’t necessary unless used to create a specific effect.
The and A: These two articles are not always necessary either, especially when using plural words that qualify as ambiguous.
Examples: The rats scampered from the house.
Rats scampered from the house.
A joy came over her.
Joy came over her.
Other words that prevent your reader from connecting to your characters are: Wonder, ponder, think, thought, feel, felt, understand, realize, decide, know. When in limited third person, the reader knows who is speaking and understands the character is thinking, feeling, realizing, etc. The reader doesn’t need the intrusive reminders.
The following list (although some have been mentioned above), are words for search and replace: A little, almost, anyway, at the present time, began to, by means of, certainly, considering the fact that, definitely, even, exactly, fairly, in order to, in spite of the fact that, in the event that, is/was/were/are, just, perfect, perhaps, probably, proceeded to, owing to the fact, quite, rather, real, really, seem, slightly, so some, somewhat, sort of, start/started to, such, that, the, usually, very, which, who.
Redundant words: Two-wheeled bicycle, 6 a.m. in the morning, absolutely perfect, blistering hot, climbed up the stairs, crept slowly, drop down, eased slowly, exact same, fall down, long-necked giraffe, long-lasting durability, nodded his head, ran quickly, red in color, rise up, rose to her feet, sat down, shrugged his shoulders, small leprechaun, stomped heavily, stood to his full height, stood up, terribly bad, the reason why, tiptoed quietly.
In summary, nailing strong writing takes much more than listed above, but this provides a solid beginning. As a writer tackles these writing ‘tricksters,’ he’ll soon find himself subconsciously avoiding or replacing them. When the end is typed on the final page, he will also notice his writing has advanced to another level and will garner more agent interest. Strong writing and strong stories make for smooth reading.
- Linda Kasten is a novelist who writes thrillers and romance suspense. Having received a literature degree, with minors in journalism and creative writing from Newman University in her hometown, Wichita, Kansas, she has continued studying and working on honing her craft, taking advantage of writing workshops and retreats, networking through conferences, and working with critique editors. She also belongs to several writing groups within her state’s radius. Her novel, Castle of Cards, is available for acquisition.
Hire a Freelancer or LLA? by Jeanie Loiacono
The question of whether to hire a freelance editor or not has been posed to me so many times. It is a matter of how much work needs to be done on the manuscript and how much money you wish to invest before you submit to an agency. Or should you submit it to LLA and let them edit and sell your book to a traditional publisher? Ahhh, that may be the answer.
The difference between a writer and an author is publication. The difference between an agent and a freelancer is the agent has a vested interest (long-term) in the author and their work(s). Freelancers get the money and run! No matter what kind of quality job was done, they are done. LLA is not just a literary agency. On top of submitting your work(s), negotiating a publishing contract, helping authors and publishing houses reach an agreement on editing or cover issues, and providing mentoring for an author, LLA agents “shepherd” every author and manuscript indefinitely—marketing, publicity, moral support, attending book signings and conferences with the author, and personally promoting LLA books.
I have had so many manuscripts submitted to me that were great concepts, but the writing needed major editing. Major is when you cannot get through a sentence without fixing something. This is a sure sign the writer did not proof or polish, much less had anyone with a keen eye for English grammar or literature proof it for them. After working on a manuscript for years, you tend to have an anxiety attack at the thought of having to read it again or rewrite. Works have been known to sit in desk drawers for forty years due to this, or fear of rejection.
If truly interested in having your ‘baby’ published, you have to make sure it is ready for Pre-K first. Yes, there are many steps to becoming an author. When good enough, it has to be submitted to an agency to be taken seriously. Agents are the ‘gatekeepers’ who vet the manuscripts and make sure they meet all the criteria before taking it on, then submit to publishers on behalf of the writer. Most do not take submissions from authors directly. If they did, what a bottleneck that would be!
There are competent, honest, well-educated, freelance editors, then there are the con artists. Hard to distinguish sometimes, especially when then send you an impressive CV. The proof is in the pudding, though. I have only a handful I recommend because they have proven themselves worthy. Others have taken authors for an expensive ride, charging $1200-$5000 to edit a manuscript. Outrageous!
I recently had an author submit a manuscript that needed a good deal of work. I sent him to a freelancer who charged him $2500 to ‘edit’ his manuscript. OMGOSH!! I just finished re-editing it and it took me over a month! It is now ready for submissions. That freelancer will not be taking advantage of anymore LLA authors. You can count on that!
The good ones know what is expected. They read the agency submission guidelines and know what the industry standards are. When I get one they’ve edited, I only have to read and double-check. This expedites the whole process.
So, you send it to LLA, then what? If it is a genre and topic that we take and it is unique, (no other titles or similar topics out there) we put it in queue. It is when we pull it up and actually delve into the content do we see what the writer is capable of; what potential the work has. Will it be fine as is with a bit of tweaking here and there? Is it something that will sell and, hopefully, sell big? Is it worth a month of my time getting it polished? Is the writer worth the time? There are great works and sorry writers, great writers and sorry works, and then there is the ultimate, great writers with great works. Of course, there is always the possibility that you have the latter, and, when you get them acquired by a publisher, then they nut up on you. Oh, boy! They grow an ego and think they no longer need you or that their work is good enough as is. This causes massive issues with the agency and publisher.
Most agency contracts cover this as their contracts are contingent upon the publisher’s contract, which is 2, 3, 5, 10, 15 years, for the copyright of the book, until sales are less than 100 books a year, the publisher cancels contract, or the publisher goes out of business. If the author refuses to do what is required of them, the publisher may or may not cancel, but the one who is the most affected is the author and subsequently the agent, since agencies only get 15% of the net. What is 15% of $0? See? It is a collaborative effort when it comes to a successful book.
The bottom line is this: send it to us first! Let us work with you on making it a marketable manuscript. If it does need extensive work, together we will make it a great book.
Submissions – Not as hard as you may think…by Jeanie Loiacono
After being an agent for nearly ten years, I have seen quite a few submissions. Some budding authors actually read the LLA Submission Guidelines, but the majority do not. The Submission Guidelines page starts with this:
Below are templates of how we wish to have submissions sent to us. Those not submitted according to the guidelines will not be read until submitted correctly. Please read all the way to the end for helpful information.
You may send all submissions to Jeanie Loiacono @ Jeanie.L@llallc.net or peruse our agents to see what their genre preference is and submit to them directly.
The query in the body of the email. Must include complete contact information (legal name/pseudonym, address, phone number(s), email(s), and website), title, word count, book blurb, and short author bio (pertinent literary history only).
Synopsis as a Word doc attachment Times New Roman 12 pt. – one-page, single-spaced, beginning, middle, and end.
Complete manuscript as a Word doc attachment Times New Roman 12 pt. double-spaced – formatted per the below LLA submission guidelines, proofed, and spellchecked.
It is not complicated nor hard to understand. If anyone has questions on how to do an attachment, a Word doc. or how to copy n paste, ask a teenager. Good golly, they know more about computers than any adult ever will. The rest of the page gives detailed instructions should this be your first rodeo (pun intended, this is Texas). I am even going to give you a priceless tool: a conversion link. You can convert any doc or pic to whatever and as many you want for FREE. http://pdf2doc.com/
There are many important things to remember:
- Professionalism at all times (in person, on the phone, or in emails)
- Proof your work no matter what it is
- Research what the agents are interested in
- Go to the library or book store and see what is selling and how the books look inside and out. Take a notebook!
- Look at the examples of how LLA wants it done. This is standard in the industry, so it would be good for anyone after you do it once. Save everything.
- Send the submission and wait for a response. We will reply to your email by either an email saying it is in queue to be reviewed or rejected. If rejected, it is because of one or all of the above.
- Be patient. It takes upwards of a week to read and edit a well-written manuscript; sometimes three months for one we are interested in that needs a ton of work. (Yes, we do a full edit. We work with the author to ensure it is as good as we can get it before submitting to publishers.) LLA’s policy is that the established LLA authors who have sequels have priority. Publishers are waiting on those manuscripts and we have to go through them first so the publisher does not receive an unpolished work.
- When we do take one on, all of the prerequisites have to be met before the submission package can be completed.
So, it is a long process. Patience is a virtue that must be cultivated, encouraged, and utilized.
Creating Mood Within a Novel’s Setting by Johnnie Bernhard
Emotional impact may be created within the setting of a novel by the simple rule that environment affects people. Mood may be created through weather, typography, even the age of a building or a home. In writing A Good Girl, I often used the emotional and physical impact of a hurricane to create mood within the setting. As a life-long resident of the Gulf Coast, I am all too familiar with what a hurricane can do. As a child, my grandmother told me stories about the hurricanes that wreaked havoc in Calhoun County in South Texas. I used her stories combined with historical facts to write the following scene in Chapter Six of A Good Girl.
“The white head stone of Anna Grace was never meant to last, nor was the town of Indianola, Texas. The bones of the little Irish girl were washed to sea on August 20, 1886, when a 150-mph hurricane made landfall. What the howling winds did not blow away, a fifteen-foot storm surge from Matagorda Bay drowned. To ensure all traces of man were swept clean from the port city forever, a fire roared through the remaining buildings, trapping citizens in two story structures and burning them alive. The recently built school by the Sisters of Mercy of New Orleans disappeared in a frenzy of wind and water. All that remained of the town were snakes and bloated bodies hanging from broken trees.”
- A Good Girl, (Texas Review Press, March 2017)
RIGHTS OR ENTITLEMENT? by Jeanie Loiacono
It is an atrocity to burn the American flag. It stands for the country we live in and love; that some, me being one, served to protect– military and law enforcement. You should stand up at attention and salute it or put your hand on your heart. So many have died and continue to die so you in the publishing world can sling venom then go home and sleep safe and secure. There would be no ‘freedom of speech’ without a “United States of America, for which we stand UNDER GOD, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.” It is not a right nor freedom of speech to destroy property, hurt innocent people, or be rude and disrespectful to President Trump.
Leave this country and see what you have to protect you, a United States Passport, which gives you ‘rights’ as a US Citizen. Most of you reading this have been abroad and had to come back through customs. How did it feel to have your passport scanned and stamped, then walk FREELY through to go home to your two-car garages, protected by our military and police, whom you now spit on with your words, hiding behind ‘freedom of speech’?
If you are driving the speed limit, there is no fear of a ticket. If you are in or coming to the USA legally with nothing nefarious to hide, there is NO FEAR. Only someone who is doing wrong should fear the law. Others should respect it. Respect and uphold God’s laws and the laws of the United States of America! All the celebrities and protesters should let illegals and refugees live with them, in their homes, with their children; feed them, clothe them, give them their beds, transportation, help get their green cards, and be here legally. AND IF they are not who they say they are and rape your wife, stab your husband, molest your children, steal your car and run over a crowd of people or use it to blow up a building, and then laugh at what is left of your family, you will SCREAM for President Trump to do something. Well, he has already seen this happen and is doing something NOW. God bless President Trump and all those who love and support him.
I do not think President Trump has the time to read some of the smut novels that are being published today. The man barely has time to sleep. As a literary agent, I see what is being accepted; immoral, hedonistic fodder. Why would he waste his time with that when he has to protect this country; not from Muslims, Christians, or any other religion, but from evil criminals hiding behind those monikers, blowing up innocents and pitting nations against nations. They do not care who gets hurt as long as they get their 15 minutes of fame and are brought up time and again for killing however many by the media. The more destruction, the more famous they are.
Trump stands for TRUTH, which the media seems to know nothing of. I bet Walter Cronkite is disgusted with it all, watching from Heaven, right alongside the founding fathers, shaking their heads, saying, “They know not what they do,” just as Jesus said to the Pharisees.
President Trump is finally doing what needs to be done. We must support him. We must unite as Americans, build the wall, vett all incoming, and “ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.”
Building a wall is not wrong. Do you lock your car, your house? Do you have a security system? Would you leave it all open and allow anyone to use it? NO. Why would we do that with our country? We founded this country on our freedoms, but to keep them we have to protect them. To protect them, we have to have a strong military and borders. To have that security, we must have a wall to the south and even north eventually, and those coming in this country must be checked thoroughly. If you are concerned with the veterinarian you use for your pet, the boy your daughter dates, the person who washes your car, the doctors who treat you, then you should be CONCERNED with the terrorists coming into this country; some of which may pose as your innocent neighbor. They do not have to have dark hair and eyes nor come from one of the five countries under scrutiny. You are all smart people. Use your common sense. President Trump would never do anything to harm us, for if he did, he would be harming himself and his family. No good father would do that to their child, nor would he do that to this country.
No one is holding you here as a hostage. Anyone can leave anytime. And if you decide to actually do what some celebrities have threatened to do but have not, which is leave, I would ask you to destroy your US Passport. Why come back when you hate the US so much? That is my ‘freedom of speech.’
Agenting in 2017
After being a literary agent for going on nine years, I have seen some great works with great authors, great works with shoddy authors, and not-so-great works with fantastic authors. Which would I prefer? The first, of course, although that is rare. Most writers must be molded and honed, creating people and works you can be proud of. Then there are exemplary writers whose quality wanes or good authors who learn from mistakes and create books like Monet paintings; timeless. The latter are much more appealing and shine.
As the publishing industry evolves, as it has exponentially in the past twenty years, so does the agenting role and model. It used to be that agents could work strictly for commission and actually put food on the table. That was when the quality and quantity of books were rationed, meaning you got more for the money. With self-publishing, a myriad of micro publishers, and small houses that are staying afloat while bailing, agents are no longer able to wait for the check that is six to eighteen months coming; no longer able to work tirelessly for a writer who expects everything for nothing. Who in this world works for free? Philanthropists and volunteers, neither of which are agents.
Loiacono Literary Agency has changed its company model/policy in step with the times. LLA is a comprehensive agency that takes writers and turns them into published authors; sometimes upwards of four months to take a manuscript from raw to well-done, then years to sell it. The competition is vast, so it must stand out as a sunny banner in a sea of gray.
It all begins in the mind of the author; their concept and ability to put into words, articulately and with flare, a story that draws you into the rabbit hole and does not allow you to escape until the final word, leaving you breathless and wanting more. The manuscript must be formatted, polished, and proofed by the writer and hopefully someone with skills in content, grammar, and punctuation. By the time it is submitted to an agency, it should be glowing. Yet, this is not always the case. If it was, our job would be so much easier.
That is where having an agent who is passionate about the job is essential. I have read of agents who reject great manuscripts because they are not formatted right, in the wrong font, or don’t have a title page. Poof! Gone! Deleted! Not at LLA. We review submissions on every level, beginning with the query. Is it the genre we are interested in? How many words? Is the subject unique? If not, is the story? Is the writing top-notch? Is the writer professional in presentation? Have they done their homework? Have they submitted per the LLA Submission Guidelines? Have they submitted in a blast email? How seasoned is the writer? How long has it been since they have had anything published, if ever? So much relevancy! So much to take into consideration.!
With endless energy, resources, time, and unwavering diligence, the agents at LLA—Johnnie Bernhard, Linda Kasten, and myself—spend countless hours on manuscripts in hopes of landing a contract for the writer. Then when a publisher makes an offer, we go over the contract in finite detail, negotiating if it is negotiable, always asking for the highest percentage possible, with the best benefits we can get. We work closely with the author and the publisher to ensure a seamless editing and publishing process. When it is time for launch, we crack that bottle of champagne on the bow of that book and start the marketing and promoting. As long as the book is in print, we keep moving forward, striving for bigger sales. It is never ending. One of my authors once said it was akin to spinning plates; you keep adding and adding and spinning and spinning.
There isn’t a step that we do not take alongside the author. The last three words are so important: alongside the author. Without an author’s positive attitude, cooperation, faith, work ethic, resourcefulness, motivation, and persistence, the book will not go far, even with one of the top five publishers. It is a joint effort on all fronts—author, agent, and publisher.
So when you submit to LLA, know you are getting so much more than an agent. You are entering a relationship with someone who has your best interest at heart. Your success is our success. We don’t contract a manuscript and say, “Next!” We do take on more, but we keep your plate(s) spinning as a member of the LLA family of authors.
I hope everyone has a joyous and prosperous New Year!
- Jeanie Loiacono, President, Loiacono Literary Agency