Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy 2010!

It’s hard to believe that we are at the brink 2010, with one foot in yesterday, the other foot in tomorrow. Not long ago, we were waiting for 2000, with the Y2K crisis and the ending of the world. But, here it is ten years later and our world still lives on, just as it did thousands of years ago. Chances are the earth will continue to live on, even though human generations come and go.

I can remember being a teenager in the late seventies and looking into the future. What would the year 2000 be like? Every time I heard a mention of the millennium, a chill would run through me as I would think, in the year 2000, I will turn 39 years old. At seventeen, 39 seemed ancient. Well, here it is 2010, the year I will turn 49! My, how time flies!

As I peruse through these last ten years, I realize a lot has happened. I was deeply saddened by my grandmother’s death in 2006, but I am thrilled that my 93-year-old grandfather is alive and well. This decade, both of my nieces have had children, and one of my nieces has gotten married. Both of my brothers married early in the millennium. In 2005, I met the love of my life. A few months ago, one of my sister-in-laws died a tragic death, leaving behind the imprint of a kind and compassionate heart. My other sister-in-law was diagnosed with leukemia but, after treatment, went into remission. A few years back, my older brother was in an accident that changed his life, but he has overcome many obstacles and is stronger today than he has ever been. Finally, my dad was diagnosed with bladder cancer, only to be cancer free today.

Some things in life we have no control over. Life hands us triumphs and tragedies, gains and losses. I believe our job as human beings is to decide how we want to handle life on life’s terms.

Happy new year to all as we step foot into the second decade of the millennium!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

To Join or Not to Join

I have been writing a lot lately. I am finally over 25,000 words into the second draft of my novel. Sometimes, I find myself writing like a madwoman with no control, eager to get the scenes onto paper. Other times, I write slowly, contemplating each word as if I were moving through fog . However, I always try to do my best work as I go.

Recently, the Writer’s Digest forum had an interesting discussion on critique groups. The viewpoints on whether or not to join a critique group varied. Some writers, specifically those who have been writing for pay for years, believe that critique groups can do more harm than good. Other writers believe that critique groups are all the rage, because others can catch spelling and grammar errors and teach them how to be better writers.

One seasoned writer/editor suggested that if a writer chooses a critique group, that their work must be written as well as if it were ready to go to an editor or publisher. In other words, the work must have been written, rewritten and edited to a professional level. I agree with this writer/editor one hundred percent.

I participate in a critique group for thriller writers. Sure, we catch each other’s spelling and grammar errors, but the purpose of the group is to give and receive feedback on the story itself, on what works and what does not. I am certain that we all present our very best writing at each group.

We have been together almost a year, and we are still going strong. I would encourage any writer to join a critique group once they have a well-polished draft.

In the meantime, happy writing!

To Go Oxford....or Not

Do you use the Oxford comma or do you omit it? Some grammar sages say to either keep it or omit it, unless omitting the Oxford comma will...