31 December 2013

Genre VS Literary Fiction - What's the Difference?

I was asked this question the other day and after thinking about my college years, learning about Ethnic Literature as well as American Literature, I pondered these differences. What I wrote then and what I read now (mostly horror and mystery) are quite different, but not by much. I've read a few debates about genre vs. literary fiction, and I discovered that so many authors get up in arms about their beloved writing, no matter with which group they relate.

Writers love what they produce on the page, like any artist to a canvas. So, it shouldn't be surprising that we defend our artistic pieces. So many critique our styles, our motivations, and our elitist attitudes. That's right, I just called us a bunch of elitists. I state this in a self-deprecating sense though, just to get it out there, in case you're already thinking of me as a literary snob. Yes, I'll admit, I love literary fiction, and I'm happy to share my favorite excerpts.

So, what IS the difference?

Lovers of literary fiction fall deeply with the idea of the work and the internal growth within the characters. They love the experience of reading the work, its beauty and simplicity. The introspection with which the story demands is the most compelling element of literary fiction, aside from its eloquently, flowing cadence.

I cried when I read David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. Why? Because the growth of David, the boy, into David, the man, was a phenomenal read and it touched me. I don't know how else to explain it.

Success, in the eye of the literary author, is experienced by the accumulation of acclaim by other literary types. The motivation is not for monetary gain, but rather the acknowledgement of the beauty within their intellectually stimulating prose.

Lovers of genre fiction enjoy a quick read with twists and plot. They are entertained by conflict and the elements of surprise, which pave the paths of their heros and heroines. Their experience is like a ride in a theme park. The masses love a good mystery or a great horror story. Many even love the romance, paranormal included.

Genre fiction is in high demand and so the number of copies sold and landing on the Best Seller list are indications of success for the genre fiction author, and thus monetary gain being the motivation behind writing. I'm not saying genre authors are not eloquent or compelling, and that they don't love to write, but simply their motivations are different due to a vast audience.

OH EM GHEE, did I just generalize? Yes, I think I did.

Am I adding to the stereotypes of literary snobs and genre rock stars? I hope not. This post was written in order to objectively compare and contrast, briefly, these two fiction types. I couldn't be more broad. Or could I?

Did I leave anything out? Should I have mentioned more about one group or the other?

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26 December 2013

What You Never Got For Christmas

Another Christmas has passed, and so in retrospect, I wanted to leave you with my thoughts on gift giving and the meaning of Christmas, at least for me. I've always tried to give gifts I felt challenged my kids and at the same time, kept them interacting with their environments.

When I was a kid, I wanted a microscope. Not the toy ones where you can magnify things up to 5 times. I wanted the one where you can see the bacteria in your spit or the actual construct of a booger. Call me gross, but I had the mind of a future genius. All gone to waste because I didn't get the things I so desperately desired, aside from the Casper mask and other favorite toys. So I’m over-dramatizing.

Anything which inspired me was a no go. No Play Doh for Diane! 

No, she cannot have that paint set, that goop factory, or that chemistry lab. Instead, she can have this Barbie doll and the doll whose hair you pull from a hole at the top of its head to make the strands "grow" or at least appear to.

"Look!" My mom would say. "Her hair grew!" 

No, it didn't. You pulled it out from inside her head.

Push the button on her belly or turn the knob on her back, and miraculously the hair disappears into the void from whence it came. I once tried to cut open my doll to see how that worked, but my mom caught me. I recall that horrified look on her face and the several days of concern and careful observation, until she came to realize I wasn't turning into a psychopath.

No matter how messed up and tangled my Barbie's hair ever got, my parents would buy another one the next Christmas, or for my birthday. Wasn't it obvious I didn't care about my dolls? Seriously.

They always ended up at the bottom of the toy box, headless and missing one or more appendages. I didn't do it on purpose. They just got stuck between other toys and when yanked out from underneath, while looking for something more important, this was the resulting evolution of the doll. Not all girls play with Barbie.

I imagine where my life would be today had I gotten the microscope. Instead, I got the Spirograph. Remember that beast? I could never get the pens to fit nicely into most of the holes. And in order to make any of the really cool shapes, you'd spend hours spinning the gear, keeping it from jumping track. All the while, your pen bends profusely just before it snaps in half.

Maybe I've just grown bitter that I didn't get all those other things I so wanted when I was a kid. I could get them for myself today, but I'm too old and not as curious as when I was a kid. Keep those minds fed and those passions of your children aflame. 

If your kids make out a list to Santa which contains a questionable item, be sure it's not an absolute NO before you have a moment to reflect. Why does your child want that particular thing and why is it not something you would consider?

It was too expensive 
(the microscope)

It was too messy 
(the finger-paints)

It was too dangerous 
(the pump BB gun)

It was too risque
(the albino rat snake as a pet -  in Japan, those things were protected by law)

Is there anything you ever wanted for Christmas (or any other occasion) that you never got?

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23 December 2013

Must Not Kill Dog!

What is the one thing you love to do just before sitting down to write? I love making myself a cup of Vanilla Hazelnut coffee with the Keurig I got for Christmas a couple years ago.

However, my kitchen is now a prison for my dogs, where I put up a gate to keep them from wandering about the house when we're not home, and even when we are home. The kitchen soon became a permanent station for Maggie and Biscuit (both are picture links. Go ahead, have a look). Thus, this post.

It is now time to upgrade the kitchen and fix a few things. We must banish the inmates to another part of the house in order to make repairs. We've decided to replace the counter tops, so now is a good time to replace this particular cabinet.

Must. Contain. Anger!

Yes, Maggie's attempt at a prison break was unsuccessful, but I'm sure she felt some form of redemption over the destruction of my property. I imagine, equally, she felt great joy in her attempts to eat my house.

Must. Not. Kill. Dog!

Evidence of yet another attempted break from the confines of their permanent residence.

Now that you have an idea of the much needed repairs to my dear kitchen, let me share with you the joys of making coffee again.

Alas! My newly installed kitchen counter tops and stone back splash. Merry Christmas!

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12 December 2013

The Unwieldy Realtor - Character of the Day

The unwieldy Realtor is my character of the day. Why? Because I'm picking my jaw up from off the floor as I'm writing this. I'm dumbfounded. Flabbergasted. I'm literally at a loss for words, so maybe I should just start from the beginning?

My son sends me a listing on Trulia.com. It's a 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath condominium located in the same complex as the 2 bedroom, 1 bath unit we purchased a couple of years ago. I'm pretty familiar with the complex and go there often to collect rent from our tenant or to check on the property.

With a $37,000 list price, I'm guessing we can knock off a couple thousand from that. It would need some work, a few upgrades maybe, and I'm in business. I send my email to the listing agent and receive a rather quick response:

From: mariela
Sent: Monday, December 9, 2013 4:59:51 PM
Subject: 2731 Blairstone

Good afternoon,

I received your email that you are looking for help with this property mentioned above.

I will be very glad to assist you with your questions.

Looking forward to hear from you soon,


Nice enough, right? So I send my response:

From: Diane Carlisle
Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 3:26 PM
To: mariela
Subject: Re: 2731 Blairstone

Yes, I would like to view the property.


So far, this exchange is quite pleasant and I'm really anxious to get started on my new venture in acquiring investment property, you know, to secure my future income a bit. I get a response back, also quick:

On Dec 11, 2013, at 3:30 PM, "mariela" <mariela> wrote:

Are you going to finance this property or pay cash? More likely the property has to be purchase cash for the condition of the place.
Are you working with any Realtor to help you write an offer?

Looking forward helping you with your home,


Now I'm a little irritated, but we'll see how she responds. I'm clearly looking for a date and time.

From: Diane Carlisle
Sent: Wednesday, December 11, 2013 4:10 PM
To: mariela
Subject: Re: 2731 Blairstone

I'm not working with a realtor. If the price is right for the property I would be paying cash.


She responds with this:

RE: 2731 Blairstone
Sent By mariela  On:Dec 12/11/13 4:52 PM


what do you mean if the price is right? The price of the property is $35,000 and this is a bank owned where you will need to be having the proof of cash or loan.

Before I show you the property there is a form that needs to be sign, and you will be required to wear a mask to go inside for the condition of the place.

I can show you the property tomorrow at 2:15 pm.



GOBSMACKED! I'm telling you. Why is this property even on the market? And why did you call it a home??

"Looking forward helping you with your HOME

It's not a home! It's a cesspool of filthy, disgusting mold, and you shouldn't be able to advertise this piece of crap!



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10 December 2013

From Hell to Heaven in 7 Days

So, the labor guys finally made it to my house. It's 5:00 p.m. and they have informed me they will need 3 to 4 hours to install my granite counter tops. Nice, right? I kind of wanted to step out tonight and maybe grab a beer or two. Instead, I get to listen to my Uncle Si bobble head call out, "I'm down like a rodeo clown" or "Hey, that's a fact, Jack!" every time one of these guys pounds away at the old counter top.

Easy! Jeez. Yeah, my son gifted it to me for my birthday last month. I love Duck Dynasty, but this thing going off every 2 seconds is driving me nuts. I had originally moved it off the washing machine when I caught it blasting away during the spin cycle. I never heard Si talk so much, saying the same thing over and over again. Oh wait, yes I have.

Anyway, so they're putting in the new counters this evening, and that means tomorrow, a day for which I took annual leave to enjoy my new kitchen, I get to spend the day putting away all these items I had to remove from my cabinets and drawers.

I know this looks messy now, but I will have a brand new kitchen ready to give a home to these items soon enough. It'll get squared away. The least I can do is have a positive attitude. This is the best Christmas present ever. We're doing the floor ourselves. Here's a photo of the old counter tops. I snapped it Sunday night after all day of cussing, stomping, and throwing scrap laminate. Sorry Tim! He apologized too, so now we're friends again. This is progress!

The tile guy comes on Friday, so I'll be sure to update you with new photos of this project I call From Hell to Heaven in 7 Days.

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02 December 2013

Don't Just Get Drunk - Get Ugly

This is an old post I had to remove because the Facebook embed video functionality broke. Now there's a link instead. Watch, listen, and enjoy.

Today's Character of the Day, The Bull Rider!

Well, I'm heading out on vacation for the next two weeks. I'll still post when I have a chance, but I wanted to leave you with this video. But Diane, it doesn't have anything to do with writing or making progress!

You're right, it doesn't. This guy apparently isn't making ANY progress. But since this was taken at Coyote Ugly in Panama City Beach while on vacation, I thought it a nice reminder of how much fun it will be to vacation again after a whole year! Now THAT's progress.

Anyways, enjoy the video. In case you're curious, I admit, that is me you will hear, laughing hysterically. Signing off and wishing you well!

If the video doesn't display, no worries. See it here.

In case you're wondering why we were recording and laughing, it's not because he wasn't making progress in his attempts to ride the bull. I rode that bull the same evening. Trust me, it's hard! The fun in it all was he claimed to have ridden one in Texas...of which he boasted having held on for 6-8 seconds. Imagine our shock! :D

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Is Your Search Box Gadget Broken?

Many Blogger authors are experiencing issues with the Blogger Search Box Gadget. If you are using this gadget on your site, you may have similar issues when searching keywords you know exist on your site. If you receive an "x" at the top right when you should be receiving search results, then you are experiencing what other Blogger authors are experiencing.

Don't fret, and it's useless to post issues in the Google forums at this time, as I'm sure they are very busy. Log into your Blogger account and navigate to your layout. Yours may have a different layout, but either way, hopefully you have the option to "Add a Gadget".

Click on it and select HTML/JavaScript.

You are ready to customize your own HTML Search Box! Select and copy the following code and be ready to paste it into your new gadget (in case Blogger inserts extra coding, the code in the picture below is all that you should need! Type it in):

In the Title area type "Search this blog" and if you want to change "Go!" in the code to "Onward!" or whatever suits your fancy pants, then do it. Just make sure it stays within the double quotes. Now, paste the code into the content area.

Make sure you replace "yourblog" with the actual name of your blog, and don't forget to save the gadget.

I know it can be frustrating when a huge organization such as Google does not respond to your inquiries. I'm sure they are working to find a universal fix so that all of the Blogger templates will be satisfied. Just know that these simple HTML elements have been around forever and they still work!

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