Obscure August Folklore #amwriting #writerslife #folklore

By Ronel Janse van Vuuren

I needed something to take my mind off my own life for a while, so I googled “August folklore” and found something fun.

Have you ever heard of the term “Cat Nights”?

Well, I haven’t. Which isn’t too odd considering that in my hemisphere it is now the start of spring and that the whole concept of Cat Nights has to do with the start of autumn.

Apparently one can find the term “Cat Nights” on calendars across Europe and America even today. The oldest (printed) reference to this is on the Old Farmer’s Almanac of 1792.

When do the Cat Nights begin? On August 17 as the Dog Days of summer draw to an end.

Of course it’s an obscure Irish legend that started it all (all great folklore has roots in old Ireland, I’ve found).

The legend states that a witch can transform into a cat, and back again, only eight times. If she tries it a ninth time, she will be stuck as a cat forever. The yowling of the cat is, of course, the witch lamenting her fate. Foolish witches are caught in this state particularly on August 17th and that is why caterwauling is so prominent on that day. (Though, I’m sure most owned by a cat will differ – cats like to test out their lungs on any given day or night.)

So now you know where the whole “cats have nine lives” and the idea of witches prowling around as cats came from.

Cats are truly amazing and have been the source of lots of folklore around the globe. (I wrote a piece about it on my blog a while back. You can read it here.)

There are constellations named for felines – check it out here.

And someone even wrote a poem about this obscure piece of folklore. You can read it here.

Mm, cats even make interesting characters. I’ve used them in my writing and they always take the story to unexpected places. (There are different cat characters – some faery cats, some regular cats – in my short story collection “Once…” that cause intrigue and plot twists whenever they appear.)

I hope you learned something new about cats and that you now have a smile on your face. Until October.

 

Ronel Janse van Vuuren is the author of New Adult, Young Adult and children’s fiction filled with mythology and folklore. Her dark fantasy stories can be read for free on Wattpad and on her blog Ronel the Mythmaker. She won Fiction Writer of the Year 2016 for her Afrikaans stories on INK: Skryf in Afrikaans. Her published works can be viewed on Goodreads.

Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.

All of her books are available for purchase on Amazon and other online retailers.

Connect with Ronel:

Amazon : Twitter : Pinterest : Google+ : Goodreads : Ronel the Mythmaker : Instagram : Newsletter

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Trip The Rope!

helen and neva
My sister and me back when my dad still had a team of horses.

by Neva Bodin

Start with a hook. Great advice. But, where in the story is the hook? Sometimes, I start a story at the beginning, another cliché. Then realize that’s boring, cut it off and start in the middle of the first chapter.

How about starting when the rope trips?

When I was growing up on a farm in my early years, we mowed hay with the tractor, raked it into shocks (mounds) with the horses, hand pitched it into a hayrack and hauled it home with the horses (and later a tractor). There a process that required tripping a rope moved it to the top story of the barn where the haymow was.

Before my brother and Dad pitched the hay from the shocks into the hayrack, they lay a sling of 3 ropes, connected at one end by a ring, and spread out like a fan on the hayrack floor. Halfway through the load, they lay another sling rope on top the hay already loaded.

When we reached the barn, the hayrack was pulled parallel to the front under the overhanging peak where a large hook hung from a track seaming the inside peak of the roof. The hook was let down and hooked to the ends of the sling. Another rope coming from the bottom was hitched to the horses (or tractor) and pulled away from the barn, lifting the load of hay up and into the haymow.

“Trip the rope,” someone would yell when the hay had moved along the track to the appointed place in the mow. And a large pile of loose hay fell on whatever was below. The fallout was fragrant and messy. Beware a chicken, mouse or cat who might be sitting below.

I believe this is where our current culture/readers would like the story to start. Where it may be fragrant and messy or smothering and restrictive to whoever is in the way of the situation you wish to write about.

A situation falls into a life; it causes conflict, panic, and varied kinds of fallout. And we as authors get to “trip the rope” at just the right spot in that life, to cause the most conflict needed to grow that character into someone the reader can identify with and care about.

Incidentally, that big red barn burned down in 1988 when my brother turned a light on in the haymow and it somehow started the fire. My dad built that barn in the late 1920’s. I still can feel the thrill of driving the big black Percheron horses (Tom and Beauty) and growing strong enough to “trip the rope.”

barn-481049_960_720
This barn is similar to the one we had, only there was a “lean” on both sides. 

 

Our Buddy by Abbie Johnson Taylor

 

 

The first vehicle I remember from my childhood was a white Mercedes Benz with four doors and a trunk. The interior seats were of a gray and white decorative pattern. Before my younger brother was born, my parents and I took many trips from our home in Tucson, Arizona.

We called the car Buddy. After my younger brother was born, when he was old enough, Dad started calling him Buddy, and I was confused. My brother’s given name was Andy, so why was Dad calling him Buddy? I was too young to understand that “buddy” was also a term of endearment.

Three years after my younger brother was born, after a second car was purchased, Buddy took Dad and me all the way from Tucson to Sheridan, Wyoming. The year was 1971, and I was ten years old. Dad would have gone on his own, but on the night he planned to leave, while we were eating supper, he asked if I wanted to come, and I said yes, since I was always up for an adventure.

We left that night. Because it was close to my bedtime, I camped out in Buddy’s back seat while Dad drove for a few hours. When we stopped, he unrolled a sleeping bag on the ground near the car. We were still in Arizona.

The next day, we drove through the Navaho Reservation and into Colorado, stopping at Four Corners, where Dad said we lost an hour. That night, we ended up in Durango, and I remember thinking it strange that it was still light at eight o’clock in the evening. That night, we visited several bars. Years later, this experience inspired a poem from my collection, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver.

The next day, we stopped at Mesa Verde, then spent the night with friends in Beulah, and the following evening, Dad left me in Denver with my maternal grandmother while he drove the rest of the way to Sheridan.

I stayed with Grammy and Granddad Hinkley in Denver for several weeks. During that time, Dad and his mother, Grandma Johnson, went to Las Vegas and back to Denver, where they picked me up. We drove to Sheridan in Grandma’s Cadillac because Buddy quit working after Dad reached Sheridan the first time.

We’d come here because Grandpa Johnson died in the fall of the previous year, and Grandma needed help with the family’s coin-operated machine business. During the weeks I spent in Sheridan, Buddy sat neglected in front of Grandma’s house. Dad was too busy running the business and keeping me entertained to worry about fixing the car. When we drove anywhere, we either used Grandma’s car or one of the company vehicles. When it was time for me to start school, Dad drove me to Denver, again in Grandma’s Cadillac, and I boarded a plane for Tucson. I wondered if I would ever see Buddy again.

In October of that year, Buddy somehow managed to get Dad home safe and sound. Two years later, we moved to Sheridan, Wyoming, so Dad could run the business full time. We had two cars: Buddy and the other Mercedes Benz we called 220S Baby. We rented a U-Haul truck to carry our earthly possessions. Dad drove the U-Haul, towing Buddy, while Mother drove 220S Baby.

After we settled in Sheridan, Buddy eventually retired and was relegated to a space in our driveway behind the garage. When Andy became a teen-ager, Mother wanted him to fix up and use the old car, but Andy wasn’t interested, and Dad didn’t like the idea for some reason. She eventually gave Andy her old Fiat when she bought a new Subaru. There were other cars, a gray Buick station wagon, a number of pick-up trucks and a van that were used mostly for the coin-operated machine business, a Plymouth Reliant station wagon, a Mitsubishi, and a red Subaru station wagon that Andy inherited after Dad passed away and gave to his son as a graduation present. For a couple of years when my husband was alive and partially paralyzed by two strokes, I owned a red wheelchair-accessible van. However, our Buddy, a reliable car for years, will always be foremost in my memory.

***

I’m the author of a memoir, two poetry collections, and a romance novel. I’m currently working on another novel. My work has appeared in The Weekly Avocet and Magnets and Ladders. I have a visual impairment and live in Sheridan, Wyoming, where for six years, I cared for my late husband, who was totally blind and partially paralyzed by two strokes. Before that, I worked as a registered music therapist in a nursing home and other facilities that served senior citizens. For more information, please visit my website and blog.

 

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Is a Writing Coach for You?

Keri Headshotnewcropped by Keri De Deo

Many new writers don’t know where to start on their writing journey. They have a story to tell, and perhaps they have some of it written, but more often than not, the question I hear most is, “Where do I start?” The answer depends on where you are in your writing and what you want to accomplish.

Do you have something already written? How complete is it? Who is your audience? What is your purpose? Do you have an outline? Do you need an outline? Should you self-publish? Where should you market your writing?

These are all good questions to answer, but they don’t necessarily have to be answered right away. But where do you start? Well, you start by writing. Create a schedule, and just write. From there, you work out the kinks.

For some writers, this answer is too frustrating. They want all of the answers up front. And that is possible to do, too. If you have a story idea and know exactly where you want to publish it and who you want to reach, then it might work for you to do some research into these questions before you start writing. It might also help you to have an outline. Many authors work well this way.

However, many writers do not work well that way. Many writers just want to write and worry about the audience, purpose, and marketing later. That works, too. I am that kind of writer. Worrying about the structure, the audience, and the publication information often hinders my writing. I have an idea, and I just want to write it. Once the writing is complete, then I can tell who my audience is and where & how I want to publish and market my story.

If you’re not sure what kind of writer you are, then try things both ways…see which one helps motivate your writing. If you find yourself stuck, then I recommend hiring a

Keri with Viola

coach. It’s much like a musician would hire a music teacher…they help keep you on track and help improve your technique.

I recently hired a marketing coach. I knew what I needed to do to market my business and my book, but I struggled to find focus and knowing where to start. All of that angst about where/when/how to market interrupted my writing and my work. I found myself just spinning my wheels and wasting time. With a coach, I found focus, and I learned what action to take and how to take that action.

I think that hiring a writing coach could also help. A writing coach gives you focus and some accountability. A writing coach will give you tasks to complete. They’ll guide you out of your comfort zone and push you where you need to be pushed. A coach will also help you find your strengths and help you use them to meet your goals.

That’s what my marketing coach does. He gives me homework with clear directions. If I don’t do my homework, then the next session doesn’t go as smoothly. So, I do my homework. I also learned to be more organized because I needed a method of keeping notes and writing tasks so that I would stay focused and complete my homework. It amazes me how finding a coach has put so many things into perspective and how it has affected several areas of my life—not just marketing or writing.

I certainly feel much calmer and I know that someone is there when I have questions or even just a freak-out moment.

So, think about where you are as a writer and if you need help or not. You could sign up for a writing class, join a writing group, and/or hire a writing coach. Whatever you decide, just keep writing.

If you have questions about hiring a writing coach, contact me at keridedeo@gmail.com.

Happy Writing!
Keri

nbasfrontcoveronlyKeri De Deo, author of Nothing but a Song, lives in northern Arizona where she plays viola in local symphonies. She loves technology and finding innovative tools for a happy, healthy life. Keri spends her free time with her husband kayaking, hiking, and walking her two beautiful dogs, Maiya and Lilla. To learn more about Keri, visit her website keridedeo.com or follow her on Facebook (@authorkeridedeo) and Twitter (@thewittyowl).

 

Sharing

S J Brown Photo verticalBy S. J. Brown

I am stealing this title from a previous post I wrote in 2015. Sharing is something I was taught to do as a young child and still do today. As a child on a daily basis I shared with my big sister, even when she didn’t want to share with me. In more recent years my sister and I have shared our memories and put them into a manuscript that we hope to publish.
S J Brown SistersAs an author I share my thoughts and experiences. As a wildlife photographer I share my images and my love of the natural world. For this blog I thought I would share some of both. I think it is more important than ever for all of us to be mindful of our wild places and the critters that live there.

S J Brown Mule DeerI think living with nature can be challenging, but so well worth it. Even when the birds get to our strawberries and raspberries before we do.
S J Brown Blue JayI think we can all do our part to help out the natural world. I do what I can be sharing my images, recycling, reusing, and reducing when I can. I flip horseshoe crabs, tag monarch butterflies, and plant trees.

S J Brown Horseshoe Crab

Each week I share a wildlife image with my social media community.

https://www.facebook.com/sj.brown.3367

https://plus.google.com/107089848958196015385

https://www.linkedin.com/in/s-j-brown-40667b47/

2 KodiakIs there something your parents taught you as a child that you still do today? Have you shard that lesson with your children?

Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my thoughts.

My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.

 

Tumbling the bowling pins

Mike StatonMike Staton is the author of this post.

I’ve a friend who has taken up bowling.

On Facebook Anne recently bragged that she bowled her highest three-game series ever – 200, 177 and 169. That’s darn good. I’d be happy with those scores.

I use to bowl. It’s been decades, though, since I sent a bowl rolling down a lane toward the 10 pins. Maybe I should give it a try.

The Sunset Station casino and hotel near me has a huge bowling alley. I learned of its existence when I stayed there back in 2011 when visiting Sharon. I was impressed with how scoring has changed since the last time I bowled – no longer paper sheets for scoring, but now done electronically. Maybe I should try to convince Sharon to join to try some bowling with me. At the minimum maybe she could keep score. I think she knows how to keep score since she went on a bowling date with a boyfriend 15 years ago. She can’t deny it since I’ve seen video of her on that long-ago date.

Orange Bowl signIn elementary school in Rialto, California, I bowled in youth leagues at the Orange Bowl just two blocks from my house. I had my own bag, ball and shoes. Those memories are sweet, something I treasure now. Dad and mom bowled in adult leagues. I spent many hours in bowling alleys, getting a bite to eat in their restaurants, getting a dime to buy candy cigarettes from vending machines.

In college, my roommate and I would go up to the Baker Center bowling alley on weekends and bowl some games. We bowled some 200-plus games and decided to try out for the Ohio University Bowling Team. We didn’t make the team, but enjoyed the tryouts. I even bowled a couple of 220 games, but my scores dropped later in the tryouts.

Sunset Station bowlingThose were good times, both at the Orange Bowl and later at Ohio University’s Baker Center. But times change – the Orange Bowl was torn down in 2008 after sitting abandoned for years; Baker Center, replaced with a new student center.

# # #

I’m an author with four published novels that include a sword-and-sorcery fantasy trilogy – The Emperor’s Mistress, Thief’s Coin and Assassins’ Lair. The fourth novel is a historical romance set during the Civil War. It’s called Blessed Shadows Dark and Deep. I’ve begun writing my second Civil War novel – Deepening Homefront Shadows. All my novels can be purchased via the website of my publisher, Wings ePress, as well as the websites of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Is It Time to Step Away from Your Work?

Feeling burnt out? Have a bad case of writer's block? Maybe it's time to step away from your work for a while. How do you know when you need creative rest, though, and when to apply butt to chair...? | creativity | productivity | writing advice

 

 

Cole Smith Writes | creativity | productivity | writingby Cole Smith

 

 

“Apply butt to chair.” That’s the ubiquitous advice. Write, no matter what. Even when you don’t feel like it, WRITE. But how do you know when it’s really time to step away from your work for a little while, and when you’re just making excuses to your internal editor?

 

 

True burnout goes deeper than fatigue or writer’s block. When, instead of writing yourself out of a funk, you write yourself deeper into one, you know it’s time to step away.

 

“How am I supposed to get any work done?” wrote a blogger in one of my closed Facebook groups. Then she went on to describe several truly terrible situations she and her family were navigating. There are seasons of life when self-care has to take priority over goals. Don’t give up on your work; just give it grace. Several members of my group were quick to support our friend. And maybe that’s what she was really asking, the underlying question beneath the surface: “Is it okay if I stop for a bit?”

 

 

Burnout is bad for creativity.

The Muse is real! Ancient creatives used the archetype to conceptualize the spirit of creativity. If you try to push through burnout with brute force, you’ll drive away your Muse and your subconscious won’t burp up those wonderful ideas any more. So how do you woo back your Muse?

 

 

Rest is good for creativity.

Remember good ol’ Archimedes? According to legend, the Principle of Buoyancy came to him in the bath, and he was so overjoyed he streaked through town to tell everyone. Okay, so that story’s equal parts myth and fact, but it’s still very true, isn’t it? Suffering burnout, it was only when Archy settled down for a little relaxation that inspiration struck him like a suckerpunch. (And if streaking through town isn’t a sign of a burnout-addled brain, I don’t know what is…)

 

 

A full cup = greater impact!

The old adage, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” is true. If you’re feeling starved in any area of your creative life, the inspiration that flows to you only serves to fill you up. But when you’re fulfilled, confident, and rested, you’re able to overflow into others. Your readers, accountabilibuddies, and community will benefit from what you’re able to generously pass on. And that’s no small thing–the world needs encouragement, inspiration, and joy.

 

 

Schedule a personal retreat, a day of creative rest, or just get away from your WIP for a while. It’s not selfish or weak, but necessary! If you need permission to step away, you have it. Your work is too important not to take care of yourself 🙂

 

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Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for writers and other creatives at www.colesmithwrites.com. Her cozy mystery, Waiting for Jacob, is available here.

 

Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest

 

Waiting forJacob, a Christian cozy mystery

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Ways to Get More Comfortable with Self-Promotion

You know you need to self-promote, but it feels so icky! Try these quick tips for getting comfortable with getting your work OUT there.

 

 

 

Cole Smith

 

by Cole Smith

 

Why does self-promotion feel so icky?

 

We’re much more likely to promote our friends and favorite authors than we are to promote our own work. So look at yourself from a distance. Treat yourself like someone you care about and promote the work you believe in.

 

 

Social Media

I get it. There are so many sales pitches in your news feed already: cosmetics, health products, monogrammed totes, kitchen supplies, etc. You don’t want to spam your followers with a constant stream of advertising. So post something about your work once a week. The rest of the time, be focused on others. Remember to give, give, give, ask. People are always interested in a behind-the-scenes glimpse at others’ jobs, so occasionally pull back the curtain on your own creative process, too.

 

 

Local Media

Calling up the newspaper or tv station can be terrifying. What really helped me phone up our newspaper last spring was an emotion that’s, in my opinion, undervalued: anger. I’ve wanted to publish a book since I was eleven years old. I got really angry I hadn’t done it yet, and so it was much easier to coast on the fumes of that motivation. During launch week, I had just enough sassiness left to fire off an email to the paper. It went something like, “Hey, I’m having a launch party for my novel, thought you guys might want to come.” Note: there was no wheedling or begging or apologizing. My tone was a little cheeky, but still respectful and (mostly) professional. In other words, I’m doing this because I love it and it’s what I do. Come be a part of it.

 

 

Your Own Website

You definitely need to flood your website with your products, appearances, and other opportunities for your fans to connect with you. Put share buttons in your footers and along the sidebar. Remind readers to share and to review. Put a call to action in every post, newsletter and menu. And use the Golden Rule. How would you, as a reader, want to be treated? You don’t mind polite reminders when you truly love someone’s content. But if an online marketer is pushy, and you can’t get to their content without jumping through six hoops each time you want to access it, you’ll eventually abandon them, right? Don’t be that guy. Instead, offer great value and clear, considerate calls-to-action.

 

 

Though many writers are introverts, and the thought of public promotion is daunting, we have to get over it. Self-promotion is like so many other skills—with practice, we improve and feel more confident. Don’t just hope others spread the word about your work. Get out there and promote it, too.

 

For you, what’s the most difficult aspect of self-promotion? What do you need to work on?

 

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Cole Smith is a writer, teacher, and mountain biker in West Virginia. She enjoys good coffee and great stories. She shares inspiration, encouragement, and tips for creative overwhelm at her blog, Cole Smith Writes. Her cozy mystery set in smallish-town West Virginia, Waiting for Jacob, is available here.

 

Let’s get social! Find me on Facebook and Pinterest .

 

 

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Why Blog?

Why Blog?

By Doris McCraw

Angela Raines FB photo
July is almost over. For most of us, we are more than half-way through the year. I like to take the time to take stock of where I am in my plans and goals.

Perhaps you’ve asked yourselves these same questions. Am I on target in our writing? How about that ‘blessed’ thing called marketing? How does blogging, and the time it takes, fit into all that? Why blog if no one reads or comments on what I’ve taken the time to think, research and write about? I rethink this every year, asking myself the same thing, why blog?

For me the answer is a bit complex. I’ll break it down into three sections. 1. Marketing 2. Research and 3. Name recognition, (the one that’s a bit tricky for me.)

1. Marketing:

If we write stories, be they short, flash or full length, we want people to read them. Even with non-fiction we want the information to get to those who might enjoy what we’ve researched and written.

For someone like me, who writes slow, there can be a long time between the various stories. Added to that, I write in two historical genres: Western and Medieval. I love both equally. You add to that the poetry I occasionally write, along with non-fiction work, and it gets busy. Facebook can only do so much, as well as emails. Plus, how do you expand your readership. To me, blogging is one of those ways.

I realize not everyone will like what I write, despite my desire that they do. At the same time, finding those readers who will like my work, is a challenge. It helps to use all the options at my disposal, and blogging is one of those for me.

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Photo (c) by author

2. Research:

This is probably the primary reason I blog. I want to share the research I have done with others. History and the people who made it are a compulsion with me. To tell the stories of the people and places from history is something I want to do. I don’t want those pieces from the past to be lost. The nice thing about blogs, especially with the tags, your posts are available via searches almost forever.

For close to ten years I’ve been researching the story of a Colorado criminal. I haven’t written much about him, for he has been hiding the rest of his story. Since the Pikes Peak Library History Symposium presentation on June 9 of this year, I’ve started telling his story via the written word. In fact, I recently submitted the paper based on the presentation for possible publication in the book the library will publish on the topic, Remarkable Rascals, Despicable Dudes and Hidden Heroes.

The other research that’s important for me to share is the story of the early women doctors in Colorado. While ‘Doc Susie’ is a part of that story, it has been slanted her way for far to long. There were so many others who did as much if not more than she. If the book of their lives never gets written by me, at least I’ve shared enough that others have a place to start and find out more based on the blogs I’ve written, and will continue to write.

The stories of the doctors and so many others need to be preserved for future generations. When you feel like you can’t do something, just take a look at what those who preceded you did. It sometimes helps when put into that perspective.

Doris_McGraw_Angela_Raines_L&L_Chasing_a_Chance_EBOOK

3  Name Recognition:

Since I write fiction under a pen name: Angela Raines, it is important I share that information on my posts. When you add my online name, Renawomyn, it gets a bit tricky.

At the same time, my non-fiction work is important. I simply do not want readers of romance to pick up a book with my real name expecting a sweet story and they are reading about juvenile delinquents, early criminals or lynchings. By using pen names I hope to avoid that problem. Of course the reverse could also be true. Can you imagine buying one of my books about the trials and tribulations of early women doctors, and find your reading a story about a medieval woman and the man she loves?

In the end, whether anyone reads or comments on my blog posts, I have things I want to say. Yes, it hurts when no one seems to care, but in the long run, it’s the future I write for. So, here’s to the future and to the readers who just have to know what I have to share.

And on a lighter note, the book birthday for my first story is this July. It will be four years old. How time does fly.

Home_For_His_Heart_McCraw_cover
Purchase Here

Doris Gardner-McCraw –

Author, Speaker, Historian-specializing in
Colorado and Women’s History

Member of National League of American Pen Women,

Women Writing the West,

Pikes Peak Posse of the Westerners


Angela Raines – author: Where Love & History Meet

For a list of Angela Raines Books: Here

Photo and Poem: Click Here

Angela Raines FaceBook: Click Here

Just Google It?

By N. M. Cedeño

 

What kinds of questions do you ask the internet to answer for you? I, like many adults who came of age before widespread usage of the internet, have learned to search the internet for answers to a variety of simple questions. We routinely ask Google or other search engines to spell words, find quotes, discover who that actor in that movie was, get driving directions, and find recipes. For these simple tasks, asking the internet has become a habit. We’ve even learned to check the internet for directions for easy projects around the house. Having an expert at the tips of your fingers is fabulous.

And yet, many of us still don’t automatically check the internet for information when we can. Perhaps this is because computers haven’t always been our place to go for answers. We grew up having to do research in books, having to consult the dictionary for spellings, and checking encyclopedias for basic knowledge questions. Consequently, despite knowing we have the internet at our disposal, we don’t always remember to go to it.

For instance, one time a small bird came into my house via the front door. It had been perching on the Christmas wreath when the door was opened inward. The bird took flight upward into a two story entryway and found itself upstairs. Although we chased the bird around the room from one perch to another and scared the bird poo out of it, we weren’t even remotely close to catching it. Finally, my husband looked at me, perplexed after another failed attempt to trap the bird, and said, “How do you get a bird out of a house?”

Then, something clicked in my head, and I said, “I don’t know. Google it!”

For some reason, until my husband phrased the problem as a straight-forward question, checking the internet for the answer hadn’t occurred to either of us. Once we realized that we had access to an answer, we asked, and the internet answered. To remove a bird, darken the room and get a blanket. The bird will settle in one place because, not being nocturnal, it doesn’t see well enough to fly at night. Once the bird stops moving, it’s relatively easy to walk up to it in the dark, toss a blanket over it, gather it up, and release it outside the house. This worked like a charm the first time we tried it.

Another time, I found an old recipe, possibly written by my grandmother, but originally intended for someone other than me. The recipe described a simple method for making wine from grapes, but it included a word that I assumed was Czech, a language spoken by my grandparents. While I could guess the meaning of the word based on context, I wanted to verify it. However, it was late in the evening, and I didn’t want to bother my then 97-year-old grandmother with the question. Of course, one of my kids said, “Mom, just google it.”

The word on the recipe paper was spelled “qvasit” or “quast,” neither of which produced a reasonable meaning in translating programs. Realizing based on family history that the recipe’s writer probably spoke Czech, but never had to write it, I tried varying the spelling, but still couldn’t find the word. Finally, I took the word I guessed for the English translation and asked Google to translate it to Czech. This worked. The word “ferment” in English is “kvasit” in Czech. Since it ended up taking a lot longer to find an online answer, it probably would have been easier to ask a speaker of Czech. Maybe I didn’t remember to check the internet since my brain had already identified a quicker or easier route. Or maybe I didn’t think of it because I don’t routinely translate words online.

How about you? Are there things you forget you can look up online?

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N.M. Cedeño writes short stories and novels that are typically set in Texas. Her stories vary from traditional mystery, to science fiction, to paranormal mystery in genre. Her début novel, All in Her Head, was published in 2014, followed by her second novel, For the Children’s Sake, in 2015. In 2016, For the Children’s Sake was selected as a finalist for the East Texas Writers Guild Book Award in the Mystery/Thriller category. Most recently, she has begun writing the Bad Vibes Removal Services Series which includes short stories and the novel The Walls Can Talk (2017).