Thursday, July 12, 2012



I have a problem with document clutter.  Well, more than one but my main problem is multiple revisions of a document because I keep doing a 'save as' in WORD every time I am inspired by what I call the 'title of the moment'.  I very rarely start a story with the same title that I end up when I finish - Revenge Will Wait for Another Day is one exception - so as I progress with my story, I will think of 'the perfect title!!’ and instead of closing the document and renaming it – I don’t want to lose my momentum - I 'save as'.
At one point while writing This Will All End In Tears, I had eight revisions saved under different names.  You have to admit, that is kind of dumb, right?  Especially when you consider that I am not exactly a novice when it comes to Microsoft WORD.  Anyway... where was I?  Oh, yes… that 'perfect title!!’ isn't, so... I save… and save… and…you get the idea.  Why not just give my story a generic name and then when I am finished, add the title?  That’s a good question.  See, I can’t really write the story if there isn’t a title that has something to do with the story.  It would bother me.  Is that a bit anal?
There is an upside... sort of.  If I somehow lose, as happened a few weeks ago, the latest draft of a document, I usually have a prior version somewhere on the computer, so I don't have to start over from scratch.  Once the hair-pulling and eye-gouging urge has passed and I do NOT reach for the bottle of Stoli tucked behind the Weetabix and Special K with Chocolate, I shoot Tina a look that could freeze fire - "Really? Now you choose not to understand my writer's angst... do you have a death wish?" - and pull up a prior revision and get back to work.
Also known as taking a deep breath and pulling up my big girl panties!
Now… what is this thing with titles anyway?  I swear, it is almost a physical pain sometimes, trying to get just the right title to come out
I wrote a guest blog for Paul D Brazill some time back, when I had just started out on my writing career – “Wow! A real, living breathing AUTHOR asked me to write a piece for HIS blog??”  I'm sure I swooned a bit!  So, I ‘fired up’ Bella… my laptop and constant companion… and before you could say, “Wow!  Is that a thousand words already?” I had my piece finished… except for a title.  For what seemed a small eternity, I agonized over a title. Titles have been, and continue to be, my 'Achilles Heel'.  I kid you not… I can write a 3,000 word story in the time it can take to come up with a good title.
Anyway, with a deadline fast approaching and my stubborn refusal to settle for anything less than a clever and catchy – in my mind, at any rate - title, I finally came up with this....
"Coming Up With A Good Title Is Like Excoriating My Flesh"
I thought the title was very appropriate because… I swear to you… it would be less painful to scrub the top three layers of flesh from my entire body than to come up with a good title sometimes  Methinks the girl doth exaggerate, you say?  You have obviously never felt my pain.
I just finished the [hopefully] final draft of a 4,000 word story for a disaster anthology and while I thought I had finally come up with a good title – yes, I have deleted the four prior versions from my hard drive - I am now not so sure.  The title isn’t really doing anything for me… maybe I’ll just name it Story Number 96.
Does anyone know of a support group for the 'story/book title challenged'?   My therapist has declined to start one, and for what she charges, that’s probably not the best idea I have ever come up with.
But, getting back to the clutter…
How do you all deal with the not-so-limitless - who would have thought a 180GB hard drive on a laptop would ever NOT be big enough? - space on your computer for all your wonderful and not so wonderful (but keeping as a reminder of my less-than-brilliant flashes of inspiration) creations?  Maybe there is some other stuff on the hard drive I could get rid of.
What’s this thing called Windows?  It seems to be taking up an awful lot of room.  Do I even use it?  Maybe I could get rid of Windows…
© 2012 – Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw.  All Rights Reserved.

Friday, July 6, 2012


The ListenerThe Listener by Shira Nayman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I enjoyed The Listener quite a bit more than I thought I would at first.  While part of the story-line was fairly predictable, I was nonetheless caught off guard with the ending.  Yes, I rather liked the ending.  It left me with one of those 'oh!' moments when I read the last paragraph... I like that feeling!

The Listener is certainly deserving of a four star rating here.  Shira Nayman has written, in her second novel, a most compelling story of human frailty.  Her treatment of the main staff and patient characters was especially well done, and she adds a nice depth to the secondary characters as well.

In The Listener, the author uses a descriptive and compassionate narrative style that easily engenders empathy in the reader for the characters Shira has created.  She deals with the subject of mental illness, both those being treated and the persons treating them, with an understanding and compassion that only one who has experience in the field can.

The author shows with a startling clarity that the casualties of war go far beyond those who served and their families.  The consequences of war are not unlike the ripples in a pond when one drops a stone in its center... spreading out and touching everything and everyone in their path.

None of us are immune from the fragile nature of the human mind.

I would recommend The Listener without hesitation.

Thank you.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Silverdale, Washington
22 June 2012

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The Office of DesireThe Office of Desire by Martha Moody

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Martha Moody's keen observations on the human condition make The Office of Desire an entertaining read as she takes us through a year in the life of the doctors and staff of a small Midwest medical clinic... the trials and tribulations of marriage and family... the pitfalls of office romances and the re-examination of one's own life life amidst the rise and fall of others.  She writes inter-personal relationships quite well and the unraveling of office unity when those relationships falter.

The Office of Desire is insightful and compelling, thought-provoking and poignant.  Martha writes with a narrative style that is comfortably-paced and descriptive, yet doesn't bog the reader down in 'place', instead allowing us to identify with the characters... their thoughts and emotions.   There is a strong sense of reality to the characters and the situations they face.  We get to see them 'warts' and all; Martha doesn't 'air-brush' them into the stereotypes so common to television and movies.

I would recommend The Office of Desire to anyone looking for a story that goes beyond the superficiality of a lot of the fiction out on the market today.  This book will make you think... and that isn't a bad thing in a market flooded with sugar-coated story-lines and one-dimensional characters.

I gave The Office of Desire only four stars... and I struggled a bit over that decision... not because it isn't a good story - it is - but because I felt there were a couple of plot points that were a bit weak.  This doesn't take away from the story as a whole, however.  I really have only one criticism and that is in regards to the HIPAA violation committed by one of the characters in discussing confidential patient information.  I don't know if that was done on purpose, and it does make for a good discussion point for a book group; it just unsettled me a little bit.   I would like to think that doesn't happen in real life, but that may be wishful thinking on my part.  We are after all... only human.

One of the characters, Caroline, says this - "Desire is a dog impossible to train."

We've all been bitten by that dog, and as the story shows... there really isn't a cure for the pain that follows.

Thank you.

Veronica Marie Lewis-Shaw
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Silverdale, Washington
9 June 2012

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