Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The strange chemistry of sisterhood

Today was my sister's birthday. I must share with you a picture from what I think was her eighth birthday and remains my favorite of all of her birthday parties. I am the big sister you see. Those were the cutest little girls! Giggling and strutting about in their toilet paper filled bras imagining what it would feel like to have the real thing. Some sat with great poise and dignity while others sat like an old granny at a bus stop.

They are now all grown up. The picture is about 50 (48 my sister would insist on sparing her those other two years) years old. That little girl with her pinkie lifted in the middle beside the precious little boy whose feet do not even touch the floor (my brother) is my sister, the highly regarded cardiologist.

We grow old, we grow apart, but whatever happens there is still a special bond there. Two sisters giggling under the covers, touching somewhere during the night for comfort. Laden with heavy covers while the window air conditioner blows hard and keeps the room so cold the door sweats. Laughter. Tears. Harsh words. The shared memories of our parents no longer with us. Even when in Southern Gothic manner the fabric of the relationship frays, a hand reaches back and another automatically grasps it and once again the strange chemistry of sisterhood brings us home. To each other.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Society Fraying and Addressing an Elder

I got an email yesterday with a question relating to Manners and Etiquette. I have gotten several of these since I added the Southern Manners and Etiquette page to my website (http://www.southern-style.com/manners_and_etiquette.htm). I will share it with you and include my response. I would be interested in knowing if you agree with my response or if you have a different perspective.

 The gentleman wrote: 

I write a weekly column for www.UptownMessenger.com and next week I'll publish regarding an exchange I had last night and was hoping to get your opinion.

My wife and I raise our four daughters in New Orleans, and we were seating ourselves on the sidewalk tables of a restaurant yesterday when a woman about 20 years my senior (I'm 38) passed us and said hello, and I offered up a hello in return, however I offended her.  Here's how.  Let's say her name is Jane Doe.  Well, I said, "Hello, Ms. Doe."  She stopped and protested albeit playfully.  Then I offered "Hello, Ms. Jane?"  Which she still stood dumbfounded.  So hastily and finally I said "Hey Jane!"  To which she seemed ok with but - - - 
Jane is a peer in the real estate world, but she is also old enough to be my mother.  I also want to set a respectful example to my daughters.

So who's right?  My original actions?  Or was she right to be offended?

 My response:

She was not right to be offended. Your address to her was your example to your daughters as to how they should address her. Making you feel uncomfortable in an innocent exchange in front of your daughters was improper on her part. It is credited to Jonathan Swift to have said, "Good manners is the art of making those people easy with whom we converse. Whoever makes the fewest people uneasy is the best bred in the room." 

She could have smiled and said, "Call me Jane, dear." Still, your daughters, being well-bred southern girls would know to call her Mrs. Doe unless there is a close relationship there and they have been given permission by their parents to address her as "Ms. Jane." Simply being a professional peer would not warrant that address. (My opinion -- Sharman Ramsey)

This exchange started me thinking about why this  advice seemed to me to be correct. I have been concerned about the fraying of civility and courtesy in our society for quite awhile. Does blue jeans Friday show respect to clients who come into a professional office? My mother felt that the nursing profession lost respect when they began dressing like the lab techs and nurses aids. I went to see my granddaughter perform at an elementary school and my husband and I were startled to find teachers and students wearing pajamas. Speech and dress are both part of our outward demeanor -- how we present ourselves to the world. Dressing appropriately for the situation is the mark of a professional.

So, back to where the fabric begins to fray. Perhaps it does begin with simple address. The formal address indicates respect for a younger person for an older person. The problem is that in our society, no one wants to admit to being older. It's quite obvious, you know. We walk slower, have more aches and pains, have to dye our hair and bleach our teeth and age spots. But, let me let you in on a little secret. We still look older. 

Perhaps it is time to recall words like dignified, striking, charming, honorable, and good to be our goal rather than sexy which has now become the goal for everything from cars, to pole dancers, to little girls dressing up for pageants. We have lost our way in this world with what is important. I am delighted that this young father is aware of how his words and behavior model the words and behavior of his daughters. 

I think it is a good thing that his daughters learn to respect their elders.  I applaud this father's efforts.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Love, War and Redemption

I got inspired yesterday after having been directed to websites like Goodreads and Book and Author. All of those websites have book groups who apparently seek out Reading Guides for their discussions. So, I decided mine might benefit from having one as well. The process of developing the Reading guide gave me a fresh perspective on my novel.

Swimming with Serpents is layered like an onion. On the first level, it is historical fiction, set against an historical backdrop and involving real life historical figures. But, it is also the love story of Cade Kincaid and Lyssa Rendel.  I always knew my purpose in writing the novel was greater than telling another love story, though on the most superficial level that is exactly what it is. I am a firm believer that love is a basic need that drives every individual. Everyone's life is their own unique and individual love story. It may be a story of happy fulfillment, constant striving, or tragic loss. The love story in Swimming with Serpents propels the novel, but peel back that layer and you land in a war.

Swimming with Serpents gives a fresh look at War in general and specifically through the Creek Indian War. We go back 200 years and see it from the perspective of those who lived through it. Some of you may remember the We Were There series of books that came out in the late fifties. My mother bought every one and I read every one. That was the beginning of my love of historical fiction. I am well aware that people who would never read non-fiction learn their history through historical fiction. 

To the victor belongs the spoils -- and the story. The Native American perspective has been lost in time. The names of those who fought are hard to find. In the past few years I discovered genealogy through which I found my own Native American heritage. Perhaps it was hushed up because back then it was considered shameful and having Native American blood had the consequence of having one sent from the place of their birth to a land foreign and far away. To protect themselves, the stories of those people did not get told. I am trying to remedy that discrepancy and in the process look at war through the eyes of those who lived it. 

I hope the novel is a good read, fast paced and exciting. I hope my characters grab your hearts and make you want to read further. But, in the process, I also hope that we might see how religion and the economy can become contributing factors to war. I hope we can see how the disruption of the social structure of a society, family and interpersonal  relationships can erupt into violence. I hope we can learn to see how vulnerable one can be to those driven by greed and avarice and how laws can be manipulated to advantage the powerful. 

In the process we might question how do the powerful manage to convince others to march to the beat of their drummer? "Remember Fort Mims" brought out an army that followed Andrew Jackson despite near starvation. But why? And might this question, seeking the answer to the why, have significance in today's world?

Upon further reflection on this novel I think I really should have titled it Swimming with Serpents: Love, War and Redemption.

I will post the Readers Guide to my website. When you read the novel, I would love to have you share your thoughts with me at sharmanbursonramsey@gmail.com.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Rare Friends and Rare books

I do not know if I mentioned that Cassandra King will be writing a blurb for my novel, Swimming with Serpents, to go along with the blub written by Janis Owens. I cannot tell you how honored I am because I consider them two of the finest writers I know. My Brother Michael and Same Sweet Girls go in the pantheon of favorite all time reads.

But, not only that, Cassandra is planning a "Pub" party. Now, I think that is short for publicity, but as far as I know, we might be going pubbing. However, I think that's an English term for nightclubbing and it has little to do with the literary world and I think that is what Cassandra intends to introduce me to. In the process of this discussion, Cassandra mentioned that her husband, Pat Conroy, will be at the Carter Center on September 27th with his friends Terry Kay and Cliff Graubart and if my husband and I could make it to that presentation she would love to introduce us. Cliff Graubart is a friend of Pat's who is also having a debut novel published by Mercer University Press. Well, I could pretend to be more educated than I am, or I could admit that I was unfamiliar with those two gentlemen.

Or I could just go straight to googling those names to see just exactly these folks are.

I typed in Cliff Graubart and the first thing that came up was an article written by Pat Conroy titled "Five Men and a Pig" published in Gourmet Magazine. That was such a fun read, I ventured further down the lane of discovery and wound up in wonderful website for rare books, Between the Covers Rare Books  http://www.betweenthecovers.com/btc/articles/35, where I read an article by Tom Congalton, proprietor of Between the Covers Rare Books." He related an adventure of his and Cliff Graubart's in their quest to find the Holy Grail of rare books in "Frog-Water Iced-Tea; or a Brief and Felicitous Book Tour of the Southeastern United States."

I truly look forward to meeting a fellow Mercer University Press author who can hold his own among such great story tellers. The Curious Vision Of Sammy Levitt And Other Stories is Graubart's debut novel though his short stories have appeared in the Atlanta Journal Magazine, Goodlife Magazine, Atlanta Magazine, and the Atlanta Gazette.  Mercer University Press website states: "Sammy Levitt, about to become the first bar mitzvah in the new synagogue, sees an image that threatens to bring him unwelcome celebrity. Can the hopes of a priest and a rabbi keep the community from blowing apart? These stories are woven together by Cliff Graubart’s fresh, authentic voice documenting the American Jewish experience."

And what about Terry Kay? His biography reveals that Terry Kay is : A celebrated Georgia writer, Kay was induced into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame in 2006. He has also received the Townsend Award, the Lindberg Award, the Appalachian Heritage Award, and in 2009 was selected for the Governor’s Award in the Humanities. Three of his novels – “To Dance with the White Dog,” “The Runaway” and “The Valley of Light” – have been produced as Hallmark Hall of Fame movies. 

Aha! No pressure here. 

This is the Mount Olympus of Southern writers. Cliff Graubart was once simply the proprietor of a rare book store providing the opportunity for other authors to read and speak at his book store, the Old New York Rare Books (which relocated to Atlanta but remained Old New York Rare Books until it took on a new persona on the Internet). He is poised on the edge of the Mount himself. He will now be initiated with the laurels of the gifted ones. Cassandra King will no doubt be directing the action from the wings (though she also deserves a place on that stage. Been there, done that, she said).

I emailed the Carter Center and was informed: "This will be a ticketed event through ACappella Books...404-681-5128. You can check for the latest information at www.jimmycarterlibrary.gov or the Jimmy carter Presidential Library Facebook page. I called to reserve my tickets, however, and was told that they don't have things set up yet (July 27) to call back around the first of September.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Summer Luncheon with pound cake (trifle?) recipe)

I entertained recently and thought I would share a couple of pictures from the event with you. I belong to a group of ladies that we call the BOOBS. Our husbands LOVE that name. They cannot say it without chuckling. It is an acronym for BUNCH OF OLD BROADS. We do not take ourselves too seriously (obviously). There is absolutely no reason for us to get together other than the fact that we enjoy each other so much!

This group of friends loves to entertain in their own homes. We've all got china, silver and crystal and believe in using it. One friend makes spaghetti using  Ezio Penza's (first sang Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific) recipe from the cookbook Cook My Darling Daughter by Mildred O. Knopf. Everyone has a specialty. But, I really think that as much or more than the food, we enjoy seeing the beautiful table scapes in the different homes.

For my twelve friends I had to set up two tables. A purple African violet in a lettuce leaf tureen became the centerpiece on my round mahogany table due to the limited space on the table. The china is Noblesse by Lenox, the silver is Counterpoint by Lunt and the crystal is a turquoise blue that caught my eye in a Ross Simons catalogue.

 While I usually like to seat all twelve together, I recently decided to give up my long big table for the round table here pictured and go with two tables of six when we entertain. The two tables had totally different themes.

I set the second table with a white china and blue Argos Fostoria on a blue toille tablecloth. The centerpiece was a maidenhair fern set in a milk glass compote giving the table a crisp fresh look. The flatware for this table is Reed and Barton "Sea Shells." This was appropriate for the Panama City venue for this gathering.

Gracie, our standard poodle, enjoyed watching the preparations but was exiled to the first floor deck for the party, though she would have loved to stay. The flowers on the deck brought us all outside to have a glass of wine with the Bailey's West Indies salad and crackers before lunch.

My usual menu (because it looks so pretty on the plate) is Cornish hen, yellow rice, asparagus, rolls and -- strawberry shortcake on homemade sour cream pound cake and REAL whipped cream.

As you can see, I believe in keeping a careful eye on the appearance of what you serve. Color on the plate as well as the table can enhance one's appetite and dining experience.

Cream Cheese Pound Cake Recipe:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Soften together
  3 sticks butter
1 8oz cream cheese
Add 3 cups of sugar

Add and beat well after each:
6 eggs

3 cups flour with
1/2 tsp soda
Mix together well but on SLOW speed (don't beat the air out of what you just creamed!) and then add
1 tsp. vanilla
Spray pan with Baker's Joy
Bake one hour and twenty minutes. 
Slice cooled cake in half
Spread with strawberries sliced and soaked with sugar.  Be generous with strawberry juice to soak into the cake.  Spread Cream and then add another layer.  Ice the cake with the remaining whipped cream.
Whip heavy cream and when peaks form add 1/2 c. sugar (or to taste).  I like it sweet!

BTW  If the cake falls turn it into a trifle. Just cut up the cake in a pretty bowl and layer the strawberries and whipped cream. This happens to me a lot. I am now the Queen of Trifles. I get asked for my recipe A LOT! Because my cakes do tend to fall. So make the above recipe with the caveat that it might actually turn out to be A TRIFLE!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Death and Dying

I missed a day yesterday writing in the blog. It was Sunday and we went to church and then kept the newest grandson so our son and his wife could go to church.The night before we had supper with our friend who is battling pancreatic cancer. Having been with so many folks lately who are in the final drama of life, I've been doing a lot of thinking about death and dying.

These thoughts began several years ago as I sat with my aunt the last 48 hours of her life sleeping on the cot in her room to call the nurses for her when she needed them. Finally the time was near and my sister who is a cardiologist joined me at her bedside. Of course, my sister could read all the monitors around the beds and knew what was happening. I only knew from the expressions on the experts faces.

I looked up at the TV with some inane show filling the air of the room with a scene that would not have been pleasing to the God she would soon face and it suddenly struck me what an awesome moment we were sharing with our dear aunt. I thought back to stories I had heard of her as a little girl and reminded her of the story of the goat cart she, her big sister and brother got for Christmas. Our daddy wound the goat's tail round and round and when he let go, that goat took of "lickety split." She smiled.

I thought of how our grandmother and grandfather had dressed her on Sundays and made sure she made it to the little Methodist church her grandfather had helped build in the small community in Furman, Alabama, where her father was a doctor. They had prepared her for this moment. They had prayed for her all of her life and trusted that those early lessons had "taken."

But they were not there. Our aunt was childless, 79 years old and on her death bed. My sister and I were our grandparents' surrogates in that room to surround her with love and remind her of the love that never lets you go.

I turned the TV off. I'm not a preacher, but I love to sing the songs that make our souls reach out and take us to Heaven's door. And so we sang. We didn't remember all the words or some of the tunes, but we sang.

Death is the last scene on the stage that is our life. It is the last example we have to set for our children and the last gift a child can give to their parent. It is not to be taken lightly. I think the Catholics have it right on that issue. It is a good thing to reflect back on our life and look once more at those we love to make sure we've given them the right directions to meet us where we are going.

I shared this epiphany with a friend. When she knew her life was about to see its final curtain she began calling all of her grandchildren in over the last weeks of her life to make sure where they stood in their spiritual life. When the Hospice nurse told them the end was near, the whole family gathered round sitting on her bed singing the hymns of her childhood, the ones that spoke to her in the church in which her parents had raised her. They comforted her -- and them.

When my own mother died my brother and I were holding her hand, my son was beside her sobbing out his grief at losing the best friend he'd ever had, and I was singing what words I could squeak out of a throat constricted with the pain of losing her.  Daddy sat up on his own hospital bed looking dazed and confused. My two daughters were just coming into the room. "Look to the light, Mother. Do you see Muddin (her mother)?" I asked. She looked beyond me and was gone.

I did not have the privilege of being with my father, his death was so sudden. But I did talk with him a lot about how proud I was of the way he lived his life and that he made us proud even as he suffered through the loss of control of every body function and was left with round the clock sitters to tend him. He handled it with dignity and pride. At this hardest part of his life, I assured him, he was setting an example even then. At Christmas time of his 93rd year, he went quickly with a ruptured aneurism.

I was not wise enough to do for my mother-in-law what I learned nearly thirty years later and I feel badly that I did not appreciate the importance of those moments.

None of us get out of here alive, you know. Death is the final scene on the great drama that is life.

I am reminded that our Will is actually our last opportunity for sharing our testimony and that is why it is traditionally called the LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT. Somehow, I think it helps to realize that death is not a passive thing that happens to us. Death is still an active part of living out the last scene before we are called to a different life behind the curtain of the action on the stage of this world. When writing a play the last act is the culmination of all that came before, a time to tie up the loose ends.

It is this act for which the earlier scenes were played.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dark Knight; Your, you are and you're; Plus diagramming sentences

I will probably be mentioning websites of which you have never heard. But for me, that is a daily occurrence. My youngest daughter introduced me to Pinterest.com the other day and I know all of her friends were already acquainted with that website. An age and interest thing, I guess. Maybe need to know. They are still in the baby stage, while I have graduated to writing books. That daughter also introduced me to Shabby Blogs (http://shabbyblogs.com/) where I got the design for the logo of this blog. Talented girls! Thank you for sharing!

Having now mastered (?) a website, a blog, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon author, Goodreads author and Library Thing author, I am almost overwhelmed that there are others out there that must be tackled. But that's another day. Today we have lunch with child and grandchild number one and go to see the Dark Knight. We hope to survive. Later we go to dinner with a friend battling cancer.

Back to the writing process. Folks tell me constantly that they depend upon Spell Check to make sure their manuscripts have correctly spelled words. Can spell check tell the difference between you are, you're, and your; they are, they're and their? Can you?
You are is a subject and a verb. (You are coming tonight with the crowd.)
You're is a contraction of the two words you and are together. (You're coming tonight with the crowd.) 
Your is a possessive pronoun. (Is this your book?)
That is a very important difference that spell check cannot pick up, but an educated person can.

If I say aren't you coming tonight, what I am really saying is are you not coming tonight and therefore aren't is a contraction of the words are and not

If I were to diagram that sentence it would look something like this:
you (subject)  |  are coming (verb)
                                 \not     (adverb modifying are coming)
They are is a subject and verb. (They are in the car.) 
They (sub) | are (verb)
                       \in (preposition)
                          \car (objective of the preposition)
                                    \ the (adjective modifying car)
They're is a contraction of the two words they and are together. (They're in the car.)
Their is a possessive pronoun used as an adjective to modify. (This is their car.)

Is all of this coming back to you? If it isn't, perhaps this is a self-study you should pursue that will help your grammar.

Let me remind you that from what I hear, editors take one look at a manuscript and make a first impression. Will they read it or toss it in the round file? What impression will your manuscript give an editor? First impressions matter whether with a personal interview or a manuscript on an editor's desk.

Friday, July 20, 2012

More Hurdles in the Publishing Process

The process of publication becomes ever more convoluted. Yesterday I completed the author information on Goodreads and today I did the same for Amazon. I guess since I am now listed on Amazon like Navin Johnson in The Jerk when he found his name in the telephone directory and declared  -- "I'm Somebody!" Unfortunately, the book is already discounted and is still in pre-publication, so I hope that is not an omen for the future!

Each of these steps is important toward the ultimate goal which is actually having someone read that book that I imagined so vividly in my mind as I grabbed minutes here and there (waiting for dinner to cook and my husband to come home -- we won't mention the many times the fan was running and the windows were open because something burned, while the babies were napping, in the late hours of the night, and so on).  My husband would often have to call me twice while sitting next to me because I was so lost in the mental world of the battle at Horseshoe Bend, the middle of child birth, a pirate battle in a ship on the high seas, in the middle of Tampa Bay clinging to a spar while a hurricane roars. I have the gift of total concentration.

I learned it when I hid behind furniture reading books while my mother called me to run this or that errand for my siblings. (Okay, so I am ashamed of that now that they are gone.) But I was lost in another world far beyond the confines of my small town Alabama existence -- a chubby little girl with no social life until high school came along and I lost weight and tried out for EVERYTHING. Actually won cheerleader and the lead in the senior play!

Moral here? There's hope. As Annie would say (and my granddaughter Megan would belt out)

The sun'll come out
So ya gotta hang on
'Til tomorrow
Come what may

I love ya

You're always
A day
A way!

I love ya

You're always
A day
A way!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Peeve No. 2 's

  Today I will hear Jim Parker talk about  ALABAMA AND THE WAR OF 1812: AFTER THE HORSESHOE at the Alabama Archives. I am so excited. While I wrote about the Red Sticks who left Alabama and fought in the Red Stick War, there has been very little information that I could find about those who stayed in Alabama. I look forward to learning from this learned scholar (degrees in History, Anthropology and American Studies) who is the Director of Fort Toulouse/ Fort Jackson State Historic Site in Wetumpka.

Since I began a rant on pet peeves in grammar, let me address my second most irritating grammatical error.

It's is a CONTRACTION for the two words it is.  It is NOT a possessive. Example: "Each day brings its own challenges."

In creating the plural (indicating more than one) of words, ONE DOES NOT PUT A CONTRACTION THERE. 
It's is a contraction for it is or it has.
Its is a possessive pronoun meaning, more or less, of it or belonging to it.
And there is absolutely, positively, no such word as its'.  This problem has it own page on the internet!  (http://garyes.stormloader.com/its.html)

The contraction in other situations does indicate possession. I will quote here from http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/possessives.htm

By adding an apostrophe and an s we can manage to transform most singular nouns into their possessive form:
  • the car's front seat
  • Charles's car
  • Bartkowski's book
  • a hard day's work
    Some writers will say that the -s after Charles' is not necessary and that adding only the apostrophe (Charles' car) will suffice to show possession. Consistency is the key here: if you choose not to add the -s after a noun that already ends in s, do so consistently throughout your text. William Strunk's Elements of Style recommends adding the 's. (In fact, oddly enough, it's Rule Number One in Strunk's "Elementary Rules of Usage.") You will find that some nouns, especially proper nouns, especially when there are other -s and -z sounds involved, turn into clumsy beasts when you add another s: "That's old Mrs. Chambers's estate." In that case, you're better off with "Mrs. Chambers' estate."
    There is another way around this problem of klunky possessives: using the "of phrase" to show possession. For instance, we would probably say the "constitution of Illinois," as opposed to "Illinois' (or Illinois's ??) constitution."
    To answer that question about Illinois, you should know that most words that end in an unpronounced "s" form their possessive by adding an apostrophe + s. So we would write about "Illinois's next governor" and "Arkansas's former governor" and "the Marine Corps's policy." However, many non-English words that end with a silent "s" or "x" will form their possessives with only an apostrophe. So we would write "Alexander Dumas' first novel" and "this bordeaux' bouquet." According to the New York Public Library's Guide to Style and Usage, there are "certain expressions that end in s or the s sound that traditionally require an apostrophe only: for appearance' sake, for conscience' sake, for goodness' sake" (268). Incidentally, the NYPL Guide also suggests that when a word ends in a double s, we're better off writing its possessive with only an apostrophe: the boss' memo, the witness' statement. Many writers insist, however, that we actually hear an "es" sound attached to the possessive forms of these words, so an apostrophe -s is appropriate: boss's memo, witness's statement. If the look of the three s's in a row doesn't bother you, use that construction.
    When we want the possessive of a pluralized family name, we pluralize first and then simply make the name possessive with the use of an apostrophe. Thus, we might travel in the Smiths' car when we visit the Joneses (members of the Jones family) at the Joneses' home. When the last name ends in a hard "z" sound, we usually don't add an "s" or the "-es" and simply add the apostrophe: "the Chambers' new baby."

    This helped me. Perhaps it will help you as well.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Grammar and Pet Peeves

Old English teachers don't die, they just decline and parse away. Some of us keep up the good fight till the very end. Therefore, I feel I just must bring to your attention that there are still objective and subjective cases in grammar today, despite of the very best efforts of the Transformational Grammar folks to pretend that just putting ideas on paper is sufficient.

For those of you who are unsure, let me clarify through a simple example of conjugating the verb be.

I am,
you are,
 he/ she/ it is,
we are,
you are,
they are

Here you have an example of a subject and a verb. The subjects are I, you, he, she, it, we, you and they (subjective case) and the verb is am, a verb of being. You could also have an action verb like pass.

I pass
you pass
he/she/it passes
We pass
you pass
they pass

Mary (subject) passes the hymn books (direct object) to Sheila and ME (object of the preposition).  (ME. NOT !!!!) To is a preposition that requires an object. You cannot imagine how many times I hear educated people misuse the pronoun I.

Pronouns in the objective case are me, you, him, them, us, you, her, it, them, whom, and whomever.

You use the objective case to receive the action performed by the subject of the sentence.
Direct objects RECEIVE the action.  (Mary struck him and me.) NOT HE AND I!!!!! 
Indirect objects answers the questions to whom? or for whom? (Mary gave him and me the books.) NOT HE AND I!!!
Prepositions take objects (Mary gave the books to him and me. NOT HE AND I. Prepositions are words like
  • aboard
  • about
  • above
  • across
  • after
  • against
  • along
  • amid
  • among
  • anti
  • around
  • as
  • at
  • before
  • behind
  • below
  • beneath
  • beside
  • besides
  • between
  • beyond
  • but
  • by
  • concerning
  • considering
  • despite
  • down
  • during
  • except
  • excepting
  • excluding
  • following
  • for
  • from
  • in
  • inside
  • into
  • like
  • minus
  • near
  • of
  • off
  • on
  • onto
  • opposite
  • outside
  • over
  • past
  • per
  • plus
  • regarding
  • round
  • save
  • since
  • than
  • through
  • to
  • toward
  • towards
  • under
  • underneath
  • unlike
  • until
  • up
  • upon
  • versus
  • via
  • with
  • within
  • without

    After which these PRONOUNS will take the OBJECTIVE CASE!!!
Thanks to http://www.englishclub.com/grammar/prepositions-list.htm

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


As I have written before, there's more to this publishing business than writing a book!  I thought I had the top of the line in creating movies when I discovered Windows Live Movie Maker on my brand new computer (new a year ago). That was when I started noticing that not only did movies have trailers, but books did as well. So, I decided to learn how to create a trailer. I can assure you, it is not easy!

First you must find pictures that fit your story line. There are a lot of free downloads out there and you can also take your own pictures.  But then you have to trim your four hundred page book down to perhaps a paragraph of provocative sentences. And you must listen out for the very best audio clip to put behind the scenes.

And then you will discover that the wonderful, glorious trailer that you created in Windows Live Movie Maker will crash again and again when you try to save it because it is some flaw in the program. 

I downloaded converters that might make a .mlmp file open and convert it to something usable. No go. 

Finally, after hours and hours of trying to make a flawed program work, I found a clue on the internet that suggested that I download the previous version of Windows Movie Maker (.wmv). I then had to recreate the entire movie. It works! And I could use those converters I downloaded to change the .wmv file into an .avi file!!!! That was what Peter Wentworth, my publicist who is also a producer, requested. Now comes the interesting part. Can he create magic with the basic pictures and copy I finally managed to send him?

I am amazed that elementary schools across our nation are actually having children create book reports by producing trailers. If it takes them as much time as it has me to find pictures, audio files, and make a doggone program work, when do they have time to read books?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Enemy Mine?

I was thinking this morning about a movie that I had seen quite a while back. Enemy Mine. I never thought I would be so moved by a sci fi movie, but with Dennis Quaid and Louis Gossett, Jr., I guess you couldn't go wrong. Two soldiers from different planets crash land on a distant planet.

I guess the movie that I remember having made such an impact upon me goes along with the lyrics to the song I sing just about every time I sing Karaoke. It is a Bette Middler song.

From a distance
The world looks blue and green
And the snow capped mountains white
From a distance
The ocean meets the stream
And the eagle takes to flight

From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
Its the voice of hope
Its the voice of peace
Its the voice of every man

From a distance
We all have enough
And no one is in need
And there are no guns, no bombs and no disease
No hungry mouths to feed
From a Distance
We are instruments
Marching in a common band
Playing songs of hope
Playing songs of peace
They are the songs of every man

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

From a distance
You look like my friend
Even though we are at war
From a distance
I just cannot comprehend
What all this fighting is for
From a distance
There is harmony
And it echoes through the land
And its the hope of hopes
Its the love of loves
Its the heart of every man

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

God is watching us
God is watching us
God is watching us
From a distance

And so I guess that is why I write about the consequences of war and why I choose to support the Fugee Family project. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012


As I have posted before, there is more to writing than telling a good story. After actually getting that story onto the page and into a passable manuscript, you have to convince a publisher that it is the best thing since sliced bread and they really must publish it. Then you have to do your best to help them sell it. If no one knows about the book, then how can they buy it. I am fortunate to have a publisher with a great reputation, Mercer University Press. But they publish 40 books a year. I realize how easy it could be to get lost in the shuffle there. So I employed a publicist, Marjory Wentworth, at the recommendation of my dear friend Kathie Bennett.

The past couple of days I have been teaching myself how to Tweet and have redone my website. (http://www.southern-style and http://www.sharmanbursonramsey.com). In addition to that we had the pleasure of seeing some old friends who brought their 64 foot Alaskan Yacht to Bay Point in Panama City and accompanied us to the St. Andrew Bay Yacht Club (15 Friday night at our table). We had fun doing karaoke at 30 Degree Blue Thursday night with Mike Alford and on Friday night at the Yacht Club. We were all impressed with the crowd at 30 Degree Blue. There were some quite talented singers and everyone was encouraging and supportive so we all had fun.

We took our boat (24 foot Chapparal) out for awhile to go down to Beach Drive to see where they had razed Bubba Nelson's old house. Two sisters lived side by side and connected their houses with a breezeway on what was 10 lots. His grandsons decided the lots would sell better without the house on it so they demolished the house to sell the lots. That is such a beautiful area.

So, I just finished the redesign of my website. We plan to go to a movie later. The discipline that I refer to in the title has to do with delegating the precious time I have so that I can actually write and not neglect that which makes life worth living -- family and friends. Life is fleeting. Making the most of the time we are given takes focus. We cannot do everything.

It takes discipline.

My friend, Richard McCuistian sent me his novel to read. I know he thinks I do not like it because I haven't finished reading it. But that is certainly not true.  He is a gifted writer and I found myself immediately involved in his story from the get go. But, time is of a premium, and I just have not had the chance to chill and read.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Fugees Family

#Romney brings in $106 million in June. #Obama $70 million. Fugees $80,000.

 The Fugees Family is devoted to working with child survivors of war.
 The Serpents Series of novels that I am writing, beginning with Swimming with Serpents, tells of the consequences of war on the innocents. Fugees Families is the charity I choose to be the recipient of a portion of the proceeds from this series of novels. It just seems to fit.

The numbers at the beginning of this post tell us that there is money available to support a cause. Why shouldn't that cause be caring for the children who have been the innocent victims of some government's policy. Let us pray that our own government's policies not produce more of these innocent victims.

I am a fan of Luma Mufleh. If you would like to get involved as well visit Fugees Families (www.fugeesfamily.org). When you shop Amazon through their website they get 6% of the purchase.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Ornery website

I bit the bullet today and committed to hiring a publicist. Marjory and Peter Wentworth now represent me. Remember now, I am woman; hear me roar.

Today I kept my sweet granddaughters, Lily (10) and Megan (22 months). I went to the bank, went to the jewelers, went to Office Max to get the galleys copied, browsed T. J. Max until time for lunch with hubby and daughter no. 2, picked up jewelry, picked up galleys being copied at Office Max, picked up friend for granddaughter no. 1, put granddaughter no. 2 down for a nap while GD 1 and friend went swimming, baked chocolate chip cookies, redesigned my author pages (http://sharmanbursonramsey.com), and now I am writing the blog. Remember we ALL had to go in to do everything listed above - in the car--out of the car--into the baby seat--out of the baby seat.

And now my ornery website has confounded me. Why will it not upload onto the website like my Dreamweaver page? I loved Front Page when I first taught myself to make web pages. I used it until the servers no longer wanted to support it. I decided that since Dreamweaver was the industry standard, I might as well learn to use it. I'm still learning. The website is so doggone large, it takes forever to correct the problems. But with 7,000 to 8,000 visitors per month, there must be something going on there.

I find it interesting that the most visited pages are Southern Wedding and -- Southern Manners and Etiquette.

My new publicist tells me I need a Twitter account. Twitter? There's barely time to blog or Facebook or brush my teeth. Whoever said that things slowed down as one got older?  There's more people who need you, more things you want to do!

I'm not complaining, mind you. I think it is a real blessing to have people who actually want to be with you! To have interests that you are passionate about and actually finally see come into fruition. I'm just saying --- Life is full and wonderful and glorious and exciting. I am blessed -- and a bit tired.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Deja vu all over again?

El Peru Waka in the Yucatan Peninsula, a part of Guatemala, had an advanced civilization that disappeared around 900 A.D.. Did these people move as the result of the eruption at Popocatepetl and the volcano at Dominica, which may have resulted in climate change bringing about drought and famine? Did they come to Florida and Georgia settle near Wakulla Springs and then move northward to settle Kolomoki mounds where they had been excavating the clay that was perfect for producing the beautiful blue they used in their murals? Dabney, main character for Partyin' on the Plantation, has just awaken to find herself in this strange place. Deja vu all over again?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Baby Steps

I had the pleasure of speaking with South Carolina's poet laureate today. At the suggestion of my dear friend Kathie Bennett (Magic Time Literary Agency), Marjory Wentworth and I have discussed the possibility of my engaging her and her husband Peter Wentworth to help me as publicists for Swimming with Serpents. I first asked her for her autograph. She is an impressive poet with amazing credentials and I am honored that she would consider helping me. The Wentworths, Peter and Marjory, are teaming with Kathie on certain projects. Kathie is in the process of restarting her business as a literary publicist. She has never steered me wrong.

It is Kathie Clemons Bennett (along with her dear mother Barbara and father, Gerry Clemons) who gave me the encouragement to keep on writing when I had just about decided to quit. Kathie said, “You can write. We’ll make this happen.” This wonderfully positive person became a dear friend and with her prodding, I met other writers who guided me to this point.

“Come drive these writers around at Books Alive. You need to do this,” Kathie said. And so I drove Ron Rash, Janis Owens, Linda Busby Parker, Karen Spears Zacharias, Cassandra King, Michael Curtis and his wife, Elizabeth Cox, Michael Morris, and Jeff Shaara around in my red Odyssey van and told them the story of my novel. Bless their hearts. 

I was active with the Friends of the Library at that time and started an Author Event once a month where I, or course, took these wonderful people to speak on WTVY with my friend Ann Varnum, to the Dothan Eagle to be interviewed with another friend Bill Perkins, and then to the event at the local restaurant where our speaker spoke and signed books. Some actually stayed with me in our home. We had a wonderful time! And, of course, I read some of my novel to them. They heard more about the Creek War than they ever wanted to know. They are very well-mannered people.

Karen Spears Zacharias was actually first published by Mercer and knew Marc Jolley, editor of Mercer University Press, personally. She said, “Marc Jolley LOVES Benjamin Hawkins. Your interest in Hawkins is right up his alley. Send it to him. And tell him I suggested that you do so.” I did. And the rest is history as they say. 

Marc Jolley told me that they wanted to publish my novel not as historical romance, but as historical fiction, and .... he wanted me to tone down the explicit sex (though it was VERY WELL WRITTEN) because they might market the novel as Young Adult (which I gather is hot at the moment). I didn’t realize I could write explicit sex, but there you go! Now all my friends want to read the original!

 After writing Swimming with Serpents (a story of love and the Creek War), I wanted to find out what happened to the survivors of that war and so I followed the Red Sticks into Florida and into the First Seminole War and wound up with Nest of Vipers (to be released in September of 2013). My plan is to take all of the characters introduced in Swimming with Serpents and tell their story through the Serpents Series of novels.


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Overeager, I guess

 The manuscript has been returned to Mercer. The ball is once again in their court. I am told that the next time I see the book it will actually have a cover! The book will then be sent to reviewers for blurbs that will be added to the cover. There is still a lot to do before getting the novel onto the shelves.

The pivotal event of this novel is the Massacre at Fort Mims, the 200th anniversary of which takes place August 30, 2013. I would think there would be a lot of interest in a novel set in that environment that includes much of the genealogy, and human drama of that time. Most venues have already booked their speakers. I am excited about sharing this fascinating history and do hope I have the opportunity to do so.

I learned to love history through historical fiction. Sharing the perspective of those who actually lived the events made the times come alive for me so much better than the just-the-facts, dry bones, non-fiction did. As the Massacre at Fort Mims is indeed a part of the War of 1812, I would hope there would be interest in libraries, museums, etc., book clubs, etc. I just wish I knew how to work closer to the marketing department on arranging all of this without stepping on anyone's toes!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Weeds can be a metaphor for many things -- or simply the literal weeds in my garden. This beautiful picture reminds me of what my potager CAN look like. Now, it is simply a bunch of weeds. I plan to put on my well-worn jogging pants (that never went jogging) and get down on my knees to pull weeds. Since I also have two granddaughters visiting, I imagine I will have absolutely no REAL help, but lots of advice. How much better can it get?

 While you might not think so, this is actually preparation for writing. I find it easy to get lost in a scene while pulling weeds. So much of writing is imagining. Whether it is a garden when the seeds come into bloom, or a novel before you ever sit down at a computer and write a single word.

I think our world today is so very fast paced and technological that our minds have very little time to open the shutters of our imagination and look beyond into the vast expanse of "what can be" because we are so focused on the "what is."