Wednesday, March 04, 2015

[Limited time offer] Sign up for one of my online professional writing/editing courses and receive a 10% discount!

Nearing 100 likes on my FB page for Abraxas Professional Writing Courses. 

If you haven't liked my page, please stop by and do so at https://www.facebook.com/Abraxas.Writing.Courses

I've been teaching online courses since 1997 and many of my students have gone on to become freelance writers and published authors. I love to help people make their dreams come true ;-)

To show my appreciation, for a limited time I'm offering 10% off any of my courses. Just e-mail me at scribequill -at- gmail.com with WRITING COURSES in the subject line of the message. Let me know which featured online professional writing/editing course you're interested in:

* Professional Freelance Writing - 4 weeks-$80 or $20 per week

* Creativity 101: Tapping the Muse Within - 4weeks - $80 or $20 per week

* Marketing/PR for Writers - 4 weeks - $80 or $20 per week

* How to Write, Sell, and Market Your Nonfiction Book - 4 weeks - $100 or $25 per week

* Editing 101 - 4 weeks - $100 or $25 per week

When you e-mail me, I'll give you a special link to sign up and enroll in the course of your choosing at a 10% discount. You can begin right away! If you have questions, you can ask me those as well.


Thanks for your attention ;-)

Monday, March 02, 2015

Film, pipes, Northern European ancestry, and the ignorance of racism

Thursday, February 26, 2015

No Room for Racism; We Are All Connected

Wonder if racists ever realize how ignorant and uneducated they sound? Whenever I read a racist comment on an article (usually one about President Obama!), I automatically think, "Wow, that person has issues...and they're stupid to boot." The race you should be concerned about is the HUMAN race. We are all connected. It's easy to see this if you find out about your ancestral DNA. Once you realize how connected you are through your DNA to other parts of the world, you realize that there is no 'them or us.' It's all WE.

Here's an example:

According to my DNA, the oldest female in my maternal haplogroup can be traced back to the Middle East, particularly in the Fertile Crescent.

The site states, "The haplogroup continues to have a strong presence in the region today, comprising about 10-20% of the populations of Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine, and 25% of the population of the Arabian peninsula."

Haplogroup: J1, a subgroup of J
Age: more than 38,000 years
Region: Europe, Near East
Example Populations: British, Scandinavians
The Vikings carried J1 from Britain to Norway and Iceland.
Highlight: J1 spread from the Middle East all the way to Iceland."

* Source: 23andme.com 

As I've said before, we are all connected. Yes, I'm American. But if not for my ancestors in other parts of the world, I wouldn't EXIST today. Think about the human connections. I'm over 98% Northern European (Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Norway/Scandinavia). But J1 made it out of the Middle East THOUSANDS of years ago and then spread to other parts of the world.

So when you speak of 'those people' in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, or anywhere else, you should first think about the origins of the human race and how we all came to be. Again, your concern should be with the HUMAN race. We are all in this together. If we don't start acting like it, there will BE no more human race.

One more thing: TRAVEL. If you've never been overseas or to another country, DO IT. I find people who've never been outside the U.S. are sometimes the most xenophobic and ignorant of all.

Anti-semitism is also ridiculous. I've never understood hatred of the Jews. My literary agent of ten years, Meredith Bernstein of the Meredith Bernstein Agency in NYC, is Jewish. She's also brilliant and has always been kind to me. My son was often mistaken for being Jewish when he lived in NYC because his name is Jonathan, which is apparently a popular male Jewish name. He dated several Jewish girls, too. I don't get the whole anti-semitic thing. Never have, never will. To me, when people make anti-semitic comments online, it always ends up sounding like jealousy. To be honest, there have been times when I wish I were Jewish.

My tolerance for racists or anti-semites is about as low as for pedophiles, rapists, and murderers -- ZERO. If you want to get the cold shoulder from me or be outright ignored, say something racist or anti-semitic. Chances are, I'll unleash verbal napalm on you first, though.

Folks, it's the 21st century. Time to grow up! There's NO place for such attitudes in our society. They only serve to divide us into them vs. us. Then it makes things much easier to do awful things to those 'other' people who look different from us or live in a different country. After all, then you don't see them as people like you or me; instead, they're objects or things and not people with families, lives, history, etc. That's not only sad, it's senseless as well. Time to evolve!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

[Guest Post] Writing an Alter Ego by Mindy Phillips Lawrence

Most of what I write is to forward the thoughts of kindness and light. However, I get those notions at times (human that I am) to jettison kindness. I consult my inner person and ask it, “What would I do in certain situations if I were EVIL?” Things I would never actually do come to mind. I go to the “dark side.” It was during a moment at lunch today when I thought about what I’d like to write if I were the opposite of who I am. I began to think of an alter ego.

I developed a mean, awful character and decided to make up a name. The first set of letters I used showed nothing at all on Google except something in a foreign language with no definition. However, when I changed one letter in that word I got STRIYAM, which means BEAUTIFUL WOMAN in Sanskrit. The definition makes the name a great cover for evil. Here is my introduction to her, the opposite of all I believe:

“My name is Striyam, The Woman. They say I am beautiful but that’s just a cover. I have no country. When I write, I don’t care what anyone thinks. I write ME with all my cruelty and transgressions. My characters represent my foibles and magnify them. Evil is fine. In fact, evil is the catalyst for creativity at times and I am familiar with how to use it. I can leave a sweet little girl behind in a lion’s den and slam the gate shut. I can leave that same sweet little girl in a pit of vipers and laugh as she screams, swells from the bites, and dies. There is no end to my brutality. There is no end to my evil. I hide it well but it’s ingrained. Don’t cross me.”

I read this and was immediately REPELLED by her. At the same time, I was excited that I could think on the other side of what I would normally write. She excited me.

Try to come up with YOUR opposite sometime. Have a conversation with yourself about your ideas, values, and normal way of thinking then turn the tables and write the opposite. ENJOY yourself. You may turn on a creative spigot you didn’t know was there.

LINKS

Alter Ego, Liz Bureman
http://thewritepractice.com/alter-ego/

Alter Ego: Merriam-Webster
http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/alter%20ego

10 Famous Authors’ Fascinating Alter-Egos, Kim Parker
http://flavorwire.com/294017/10-famous-authors-fascinating-alter-egos

JK Rowling tells story of alter ego Robert Galbraith, Liz Bury
http://www.theguardian.com/books/2013/jul/24/jk-rowling-robert-galbraith-harry-potter

How to Create an Awesome Alter Ego, Lisa Bernier
http://community.sparknotes.com/2013/01/09/how-to-create-an-awesome-alter-ego

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Clive Standen (Rollo on "Vikings") is HOW old?!

Oh good grief. Clive Standen (Rollo on "Vikings") was born in 1981.

I was in 10th grade then. I tend to go for younger men rather than older ones.

Wow. Oh well, he's still hot. ;-)

Paul's 4 1/2 years younger than I am. He prefers older women and did even before we met. At the time, he was 36 and I was 40 (soon to be 41). It's worked out quite well ;-p

Sunday, February 15, 2015

[Vlog for 2.15.2015]: Oreo cookie taste-off -- Red Velvet vs. Birthday Cake


[Ancestry/Heritage] Viking headstone on the Isle of Barra, Scotland



This is a Viking gravestone on Cille Bharra, otherwise known as Scotland's Isle of Barra. My birth mother's ancestors (and thus mine as well) were of the MacNeil clan from the Isle of Barra in Scotland.

As noted in an article I posted a link to recently, the MacNeil's always claimed descendancy from Niall Noígíallach, otherwise known as Niall of the Nine Hostages, a prominent high king of Ireland. However, after an ancestral DNA project was conducted on clan members from the Isle of Barra, it was discovered there was no trace of DNA to link the clan to Niall of the Nine Hostages.

Instead, much to most everyone's surprise, there turned out to be Viking DNA (Norwegain/Scandinavian) in the MacNeil clan's background. This made sense to me, because the vast majority of my DNA is from Northern Europe, with strands of DNA from Norway/Scandinavia represented in there.

For a person like me who was adopted, piecing together one's heritage is exciting after starting out not knowing *anything* about one's ancestry. I located my birth mother (and two birth brothers) back in 1999.

From there, I began gathering information and even corresponded with the family genealogist/historian, Norma. As I've said before, having my ancestral DNA done through 23andme.com was one of the best decisions I've ever made. I am now connected to over 900 of my DNA relatives through their database, including 1 first cousin I've never met and 17 second and third cousins, plus more ancestral connections beyond that.

I post about this stuff a lot, but it's one of the most important discoveries of my entire life. I want my children to know their history and ancestry from my side and their father's side. You quickly learn we are all connected some how, some way.

If you ever get the chance, you should spend $99 to find out about your ancestral DNA, whether it's from 23andme, Ancestry.com, or another reputable company. Even if you think you know a lot about your family and ancestors, I'll bet you'll find out things you never imagined -- with a few "Wow!" surprises in there for good measure!

Friday, February 13, 2015

One of the last of the Baby Boomers

Factoid: I'm actually part of the Baby Boomer generation, which runs from 1946 through 1964. Most of my classmates are from the following generation, known as Generation X. Because I was born in 1964, I'm still considered a Baby Boomer.

I graduated high school in May 1983, but I should've graduated in 1982. However, since my birthday falls so late in the year, I couldn't start school until the next class. I never attended kindergarten, though. Instead, they put me straight into first grade.