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Thursday, October 10, 2019

My Favorite Westerns

According to Noelle Buffam, writing for The Script Lab, "Western Film is a genre that revolves around stories primarily set in the late 19th century in the American Old West. Most Westerns take place between the American Civil War (1865) and the early 1900s. Common themes within Western film include: the conquest of the wild West, the cultural separation of The East and the West, the West's resistance to modern change, the conflict between cowboys and Indians, outlaws, and treasure/gold hunting. American Western film usually revolves around a stoic hero and emphasizes the importance of honor and sacrifice."

I still enjoy a good Western, especially those with an unusual twist, compelling story, and top-notch actors. Once a dependable money-maker for movie studios, Westerns are now more often box office disappointments. The films that do succeed are not the rootin'-tootin', singing cowboy, unscrupulous landowner VS small rancher, cattle rustling variety that filled movie screens for decades.

 Below, in alphabetical order, are my all-time favorites.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969): screenplay by William Goldman. Goldman won the Oscar that year for best original screenplay. Light-hearted, yet authentic.

Dances With Wolves (1990): adapted from a book by Michael Blake. This film won the Best Picture Oscar. What an amazing, beautifully adapted story!

Hostiles (2017): screenplay by Donald Stewart based on a story by Donald E. Stewart. Violent, yet true to what life was like for settlers and Native Americans when the West was still wild.

Legends of the Fall (1994): book by Jim Harrison. In my opinion, this film never received the recognition it should have.

Lonesome Dove (1985): Not a movie, but a TV miniseries adapted from a book written by the phenomenal Western writer, Larry McMurtry. I never get tired of watching both Lonesome Dove and its sequel, Return to Lonesome Dove.

The Magnificent Seven (1960): screenplay by William Roberts (a remake of Akira Kurosawa's 1954 Japanese film Seven Sumurai. I cry every time I watch it. I've never watched the remake, nor do I intend to. Yul Brynner and Charles Bronson are irreplaceable. 

The Unforgiven (1992): screenplay by David Webb Peoples. Another Western film that won the Oscar for Best Picture. Tough to watch, but excellent.

If you haven't watched one or more of these films, and you aren't a Western genre naysayer, I don't believe you will be disappointed.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Getting Those All-Important Reviews

     While I was in the process of writing my first novel I sometimes caught myself imagining the thrill of reading a review of my book in one of the local newspapers. Sometimes that thrill would turn to dread when I pictured a negative review, but I still wanted the feedback and publicity. My wildest dreams were not wild enough to expect a review in the New York Times or even The Oregonian, however I did believe the Klamath Falls Herald and News and The Bulletin in Bend would print one. After all, most of Brute Heart takes place in Klamath Falls and I was a long-time resident of Bend. How naïve of me! Local newspapers simply do not have staffs large enough to read and review books by local authors or even established authors. The reviews they do print are written by staffers working for the New York Times News ServiceLos Angeles TimesNewsday, etc.
     I was also shy about asking friends or family members for reviews of my first novel. But that disappeared by the second novel. By the time Never Done was released I was bolder and armed with a better understanding of the relationship of reviews to sales. Since then, when someone compliments either of my novels I say, “May I ask a favor? If you enjoyed the book, will you please write a review on Amazon?” (or Goodreads if they have an account) I only have 10 reviews for Brute Heart but as of today, 37 for Never Done.
     A few of the people I asked for reviews said they couldn’t figure out where to write a review on Amazon. So-o-o-o, I wrote an instruction sheet.

                                    How To Write a Review on Amazon

  • Under the book's title, Kindle Edition, you will see the current number of customer reviews.
  • Click on that link.
  • You will see a bar graph picturing the number of stars the book has received so far.
  • Below the graph is the "write customer review" box. Click on that.
  • Five empty stars will appear.
  • Click on the star that best fits your opinion of the book with five being highest.
  • You may insert a photo at the next prompt, but it is optioal.
  • Next, Amazon would like a headline from you: a brief overall statement of what you think is most important for a potential reader to know about the book.
  • After writing the headline, please write your review in the space provided.
  • Don't forget to click "submit" at the very end.
It isn’t necessary to write a long review. Potential readers often skip long, detailed posts. They just want to find their next book and get started on it.

     Never Done has been in print for over two years now, so I rarely get a new review. Nevertheless, I am thrilled with those I have received and still ask for a review if a situation seems to warrant it.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

My Favorite Novels

When I tell people I am an author, albeit not a famous one, they often ask, "What are your favorite books?" Since I prefer fiction over non-fiction, I list my favorite novels, those with the most compelling stories. I expect a novel to be well written, but it doesn't have to be a literary masterpiece to bring me to my knees. It's the books I hug after finishing them, those with stories that stick with me for weeks, years even, that make my list.

In the order in which I read them, my favorites begin with Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. I read this novel in the seventh grade. What an entertaining, educational saga describing a contentious period in American history! I was captivated by the story though I was disappointed in the ending. I read the last few pages several times, hoping I had missed something, some thread of hope, for Scarlet and Rhett to make their marriage work.

Gone with the Wind cover.jpg

After Gone With the Wind I was too busy studying during high school and college to read many books for sheer pleasure. As an adult, the next novel I hated to see end was The Thornbirds by the Australian author Colleen McCullough. Forbidden love is an age-old theme that never grows old. I shared the book with my father, a smart man who quit high school at fifteen, and he enjoyed it, too. Though he never realized his potential, he read a great many books during his later life.

Thorn Birds-Colleen McCullough.jpg

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan was the next book that left an impression on me. I felt a strong emotional tie to this saga about mothers and daughters and cultural change. Although it is about Chinese immigrants to America, the emotions the author conveys are universal.


The seven years I lived in Connecticut and commuted daily to Manhattan I read scores of books during the hour + train ride to and from work. I read what I saw other people reading--Follett, Michenor, Ludlum, etc. I found these author's books highly entertaining but they didn't touch my soul.

It wasn't until I was doing research for my second novel that I ran across one that rocked my world--Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, Pulitzer Prize winner in 1972. Set in Colorado during the same time period as my great-grandmother lived, I read it cover to cover three times.


I have been an animal lover all my life, so I naturally fell in love with The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. I used a box of Kleenex while reading it. As an author I appreciate the patience the author used, writing from the perspective of a dog yet pacing the story as beautifully as he did.

TheArtOf RacingInTheRain.jpg

Friday, July 5, 2019

Spell Or Use Numbers When You Write

Most writers—including me—like to write for three reasons: We’re creative, we love to read and because we hate working with numbers. Eventually we find out that even in writing, numbers find a way to sneak into our work.

There are several rules of thought on how to handle writing numbers, but the most common is pretty simple. Spell out numbers under 10 (zero through nine), and use numeric symbols for 10 and up. I brought two puppies home from the poundDuring my lifetime I have adopted 12 dogs.

Of course since we are using the English language, there are exceptions to the rule. For example, spell out all numbers that begin a sentence. Twenty-two thousand people were killed in automobile accidents in 2001. Most of us don'e feel like writing such long numbers, and readers don't enjoy reading them, either. Better to write: Automobile accidents took the lives of 22,200 people in 2001.

Another exception is calendar years. Always use numerals when writing them even at the front of a sentence. 1997 was the year I was born. Another instance where rule #1 doesn’t apply is when writing peoples’ ages. (“She is only 4 years old”). Also when writing dates (December 25), cash ($5), percentages (25 percent) and ratios (100-to-1).

Let's say you want  to include the numbers four and ten in the same sentence. Normally you would write out the word "four" in: "Gary graduated from high school in four years." When adding a number that needs to be expressed as a numeral, use numerals for both: "Gary graduated from high school in 4 years, but it took him 10 years to graduate from college and med school."

Now, even though you might never have been a math whiz, you can be an expert at using numbers in your writing.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Autocorrect--Friend or Foe?

Below is an article I found amusing and pertinent enough to share with my followers. It was written by Joe Queenan who writes the "Moving Targets" column for the Wall Street Journal. The last paragraph is my favorite.

Because I have poor vision and can’t type and often send text messages while staggering through dark alleys, my friends and family often get messages from me that make no sense. The autocorrect function either leaves obvious mistakes in place—“clowns” is not spelled “closns”—or it cavalierly substitutes what it thinks I should be texting without consulting me. As in: “I just finished reading ‘Anna Karen in a.’ It’s very avant garden.”
Think how different history might have been if famous people had depended on autocorrect when texting. If Julius Caesar in the heat of battle had typed “veni, vidi, vici” into his iPhone, the Roman Senate would have had no idea what he was trying to say when the message arrived. “What does ‘Gino Video Vicious’ mean, Flavius Maximus?” a baffled Roman politician might have asked his press secretary.“You got me,” the flummoxed factotum would reply. “His assistant just texted me, ‘Gino Visit Vick.’ Maybe it’s some kind of code.”

As is widely known, the various versions of autocorrect arbitrarily alter text, believing that they can intuit what the sender of the message wishes to say. But if you are typing in dim light or without your reading glasses or while driving or under extreme duress, or in a hammered condition, the results can be absurd. 
“Foreskinned and seven years ago…” would have certainly gotten the Gettysburg Address off to a bizarre start when Abraham Lincoln mouthed these words back in 1863. Honest Abe would have been met with equally puzzled stares had he remarked: “You can fuel all of the people some of the time.”
“I only regret that I have but one wife to lose for my country” almost certainly would not have had the effect Nathan Hale was looking for before being hanged.
Winston Churchill’s “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweaters” would have been confusing to harried Britons living through the Blitz in 1940. As would the old saying, “If you’re going through Hull, keep going.”
“A date which will live in infancy…” would have puzzled Americans the day after Dec. 7, 1941. Same thing for “The only thing we have to fear is fur itself.” Or, as the autocorrected Yogi Berra might have put it: “It ain’t oval till it’s oval.”
Had autocorrect existed even a few decades ago, it might have had a tremendous effect on many touchstone expressions from popular culture. “Lunch means never having to say you’re sorry,” would be the phrase most remembered from “Love Story.” And let us not forget Humphrey Beaugard’s immortal line, “We’ll always halve Paris,” from the autocorrected film “Cass’s Blanket.”
Autocorrect would have had a wonderful time reconfiguring song titles (“Newark State of Mind,” “Bully Jean”) and song lyrics (“My gift is my song, and this one’s for Hugh.”) And the most beloved Broadway offerings would now include “The Kink and I” and “Goys and Dills,” alongside more serious fare like “The Nice Man Cometh” and “12 Hungry Men.”
If artists were not paying close attention, autocorrect would have massacred the titles of their paintings (“Whistling Mothers,” “The Moaning Lisa”). And the function would have dramatically altered the titles of many famous books: “War and Pizza,” “Tender Is the Nightie.”
As for the immortal bard, author of “Whatcha Do About Nothing” and “Omelet,” he might have let autocorrect rename one of his least successful plays, “Trolls and Cressida,” witch is weight butter.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Sea Glass Published by Spank the Carp

Following on the heels of National Poetry Month, one of my poems was published May 1 in issue number 50 of the online magazine Spank the Carp. I was especially pleased by the message I received from editor Ken S when he informed me some time back my poem had been chosen.

Congratulations, I've decided to accept your work 'Sea Glass' for publication in SPANK the CARP.
-- Ginger: What a great "total" poem, in that everything about it works toward a single purpose. I loved the ebb and flow depicted in the shape of the stanzas. And the sounds too were well chosen. - Ken

Sea Glass  

A tiny jewel rolls in with the tide.
Before the briny pulls it back
I add it to the kaleidoscope cradled in my hand                        
            algae greens                             
                        whites frothy as foam               
                                      seaweed browns
and one oh-so-rare cerulean blue.

Surf pounds, sunlight dances   
water trickles through my toes               
while I pause to reflect on how long it took
                                    rocks and reef                         
                        salt and sand                            
            wind and waves                      
to smooth and gently etch these crystal gems.

Each fragment harbors the tale
of a vessel and what it might have stowed
before Poseidon’s fork broke it apart
            a lover’s note               
                        Coco’s perfume
                                    Jim Croce’s time       
or plain ol’ backyard beer.    

‘Twas the journey that glorified this glass     
not purpose, nor the one who held it last.
I will wrap these gems in silver and wear them  
                                    in my hair
                        ‘round my neck           
            on my toes       
as treasure discovered on faraway shores.
                                    Ginger Dehlinger

Saturday, April 6, 2019

April is National Poetry Month

When I retired and began writing for fun and not-to-be profit, my focus was prose. I spent close to ten years writing and promoting my novels "Brute Heart" and "Never Done." I also wrote a few essays and short stories.

During that time I also joined a critique group. Inspired by two members of the group who were poets, I started playing around with poetry. I quickly learned rhyming poetry was passe. Today's readers and editors prefer blank verse or free verse. Unfortunately, most of my early attempts at writing poetry were full of lines that rhymed. Sometimes rhyming words showed up even when I made a conscious effort to avoid them.

For the last year or so I have been submitting my work to online magazines, and surprise, surprise, 5 of my poems have been published. Who'd a thunk it? One of the chosen poems even rhymed.

Since April is National Poetry Month I decided to post a poem I have written. This poem, an example of blank verse, has not been accepted for publication. I have submitted it several times, but thus far, no interest.

A Rose Is a Rose Is a Weed

Noble bloom, pride of queen and pharaoh,         
     centuries of breeding grace your face.
A blueblood now your palette runneth over
     on velvet petals crowning shapely legs.
But ancient meadows tell of baser roots,
     of tangled limbs and blossoms pale and small,
a prickly past your breeders cannot stem
     nor halt the thorny legacy you bear.

Aristocrat of weeds, your rowdy cousins                                           
     ambush country fences, blight the harvest.
Outlaws from distinguished family tree
    or spoilers of your pretty pedigree?

You blush at such denouement (tres outré!)
     and pucker lipstick petals for a kiss,        
seducing those naïve to the deception
     with mesmerizing breaths of French perfume.
                                                Ginger Dehlinger