Elizabeth Melton Parsons

Writing~Art~Life


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Blog Buddy Friday – Resa McConaghy

ResaToday we’re flying to Canada to visit with one of my favorite bloggers, Resa at Graffit Lux and Murals or GlaM for short. Resa’s blog is all about the art–graffiti art and murals. Although she began documenting and showcasing the graffiti art from around Toronto and Winnipeg, Resa is now featuring art from other North American cities that she finds through her own travels and guest contributions. You’ll be amazed at the quality and quantity of talented artists and phenomenal art displayed over at GlaM. I began visiting Resa’s blog because of the art, but I found her to be such an open, warm, and delightful person I’d visit even if the art disappeared. I can’t see that happening though, she’s pretty passionate about it. Thank you, Resa, for highlighting so many talented artists and giving so much enjoyment to those of us who love their work. Go visit Resa and while you’re there, visit the tiger page here: http://graffitiluxandmurals.com/2014/03/01/tiger-miami-two/ It’s breathtaking and my very favorite so far.

Photo copyright: Resa McConaghy

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Friendship

friends-public domain

My friend called yesterday and wanted me to go Christmas shopping with her about fifty miles away. It was a cold, drizzly day with some snow predicted and I was feeling pretty blah. My first instinct was to say no. I said yes because even though I wasn’t in the mood for running in and out of stores in the cold, I was definitely and always in the mood for hanging out with her. We went and I’m glad. She shopped, I browsed. I spent not one penny. She even insisted on buying my lunch. Got to love a girl like that. lol…We had a wonderful time.

I remember being a little girl in Florida and having two best friends, both male. Although we were very different, we got along wonderfully and always had the best times together. One of my friends was a country boy from a very poor family–a stocky, sturdy little guy with black hair and blue eyes. The other lived in town and his parents were successful to say the least–he was slight, slim with blonde hair and brown eyes. I was somewhere in the middle, my parents were neither wealthy nor poor. Our different backgrounds simply made for a more interesting friendship. I loved these boys and thought we’d be friends forever.

Unfortunately one day, city boy decided I was his girlfriend. Country boy took exception to this and declared in no uncertain terms that I was in fact his girlfriend. I was eight years old and thought them both disgusting. I couldn’t imagine at that age having a ‘boyfriend’. To me having a boyfriend would be like my older sister and her beaus, holding hands, sneaking kisses. YUCK! So, I did the unthinkable. I laughed at them both.

This only made them both more determined to ‘win’ me. As if I were some prize in a turkey shoot. I thought it was hilarious and didn’t take either one of them seriously. For the most part their bickering was good natured and didn’t interfere with our friendship. But eventually it escalated into a huge argument and when I told them both to knock it off, they turned to me and demanded I choose one or the other. I insisted I liked them both the same, which was true. That’s when things got nasty and turned physical. Fist fighting, wrestling kind of nasty. I was appalled, although I was not opposed to a good fight. But these were my best friends and they acted as though they hated each other. I told them I never wanted to talk to either one again.

This stopped the fight, but with one last shove, they shouted they never wanted to talk to each other again. We all went our separate ways and I kept my word by never again speaking to them. Country boy’s mama told me she was sorry about what had happened because good friends were a gift to be cherished. The funny thing is, once I was out of the picture the boys made up and remained friends for as long as I knew them. The break up of that friendship still makes me sad and I’ve never forgotten what that lady said to me.

I’ve lost several good friends from accidents and illness and this makes me hold fast to the ones still in my life both online and off. I cherish them. Although we may have our ups and downs, I try to make sure nothing becomes so big as to cause a permanent break in our relationships. So cherish your friends and if you’ve had a break recently, I hope you can mend it. ❤


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Patoka Lake and Patoka River Info and Pictures

Eric and I went mooching around at Patoka Lake and river last Friday and snapped some pictures. Thought I’d share the experience with you. Patoka is an Indian word meaning “log on the bottom”.

Patoka Lake:  At 8,800 acres is the second-largest reservoir in the U.S. state of Indiana, it spreads across Dubois, Crawford, and Orange counties in southern Indiana. It was created as a joint effort by The Army Corp of Engineers and Indiana Department of Natural Resources. It was created by going 118 miles above the mouth of Patoka River and building a 145 feet rockfill, earthen dam.  As well as Patoka River, the lake is also fed by several smaller creeks. The Lake has several parks and nature preserves  totaling 16,920 acres. The lake provides habitat for freshwater jellyfish and bald eagle nesting sites. River otters and osprey were reintroduced at Patoka by the DNR. The property was home to the DNR’s resident, non-releasable bald eagle, C52. This raptor lived at Patoka Lake from 1988 until he died in 2009, at age 21. I never got to meet this fellow because he wasn’t available for viewing the two times I was there. 😦 I did, however, almost run off the road once when one swooped low in front of my windshield.

Patoka River is 167 miles long and is a tributary of the Wabash River. The Patoka River National Wildlife Refuge and Management Area established in 1994, is a collection of wildlife refuges and habitats situated along the Patoka River in Gibson and Pike Counties in Southwestern Indiana. We also visited Jasper City Mill which is situated on Patoka River. They have a lovely park and whenever in the area, I like to walk there.

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Patoka lake-8

Patoka lake

Patoka Lake

Patoka Lake

Patoka River walk bridge

Patoka River walk bridge

Jasper City Mill

Jasper City Mill

Jasper City Mill

Jasper City Mill

Patoka River

Patoka River

Patoka River

Patoka River

Bald Eagle image from: Wikipedia


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Chrome Malware Warning

malware warning Those of you who have Google Chrome probably already know that my blog was blocked by Chrome with a big malware warning page. It took me nearly three days to get this fixed. There was never any malware here on my blog.

When I first saw that my blog was blocked by Chrome, I ran some checkers to see what the problem was and how bad it was. I checked it on Google Webmaster Tools. It came back clear. I then had the entire blog scanned by a few more checkers and it still came back as clear. So if my site was clean, why had it been blocked?

According to the warning message the problem was with a specific site I’d linked to. I won’t put the name here for fear Chrome will zap me again. But I didn’t recognize the site and knew I’d never downloaded anything from there. I thought perhaps it was from one of the ads put on here by WordPress. But nope, that wasn’t the problem.

It was a picture I’d used from the web. Now I almost always add pictures to my blog in two different ways. I upload my own photo which has been scanned by my PC’s antivirus/antimalware software or I save a public domain or free picture from the web to my personal files which is then scanned by the same software. That way I know it’s a clean image. Sometimes I will borrow a picture which requires a link back to where I got it. This is never a problem because I still save it to my files and manually add a link so that I know exactly where that link is going.

A while back, I was in a hurry and to save time I did something I normally will never do. That’s how we get into trouble–trying to do something when we’re rushed. Dummy me, I used their code to add the picture here. The site where I got the photo wasn’t the problem though. It was the link from the photo, which was a different site than where I got the photo. I found the post and a couple of links and deleted them. Unfortunately that didn’t solve the problem. The warning persisted. I even posted for help on WordPress help forums. In the meantime, all the sites I went to looking for help said I’d have to request Google to do another scan of my site to get the warning removed. But Google won’t let you do that unless your site is actually flagged as containing malware or distributing it or whatever. Mine had not been flagged-only blocked because it did not have malware, it only had a link to a flagged site.

To wrap this up, I finally found a site (on the WordPress forums) that offered a free scan to flush out the problem links. I thought this was a waste of time since I’d already deleted the links. But as it turns out, these links were sneaky. There were actually four links in the html. I’d only deleted the ones on the visual editor. The others weren’t visible except by looking at the post with the editor showing the html. Once I’d deleted them and cleared my Chrome history and cookies, the warning went away and my site was unblocked. After losing two nights sleep working on this I was ecstatic to finally solve it. Just wanted to let everyone know that my site is not and was not infected with anything and I am not a scummy malware pusher. And a big thank you to the lady who answered my question on the forums. Although I’d already solved the problem, she was dead on right with her answer. Have a great day and be careful adding your photos and links. Love and hugs, Elizabeth


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Medical Terrorists with Government Approval

Medical terrorists on your doorstep
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=51203

Merck Lobbying Campaign (Read the Second Paragraph)
http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/62645.php

Forced vaccination without representation
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=54095

Beware of vaccine bullies
http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=36926


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Creating Your Villains

What type of villain do you prefer when reading a story? Would you rather be told up front and center just exactly who the villain is? Or would you rather be kept guessing? My favorite villain is someone who lives a seemingly normal life, a likeable or even lovable character with a dark side.

I love trying to guess who the bad guy is. In genre romance it pretty much goes without saying that there will be a happy ending, but in general fiction endings can be anything and that to me is what keeps the suspense high. You never know who will fall victim to the evil ways of the villain and I’ve read some books where the villain wins in the end. Of course I’m not much of a fan of killing off the good guys in a story, but will admit sometimes I like the surprise of it happening because it’s unexpected. Being a romantic at heart though, I prefer the good guys to prevail.

When creating the villain in your story, think about how far you want to go. Are you writing a genre romance and want to have a happy ending? Do you want to keep his evil activities on the light side? Are you willing to push the envelope and have the villain do things that may offend some readers? Is he/she handsome/beautiful, charming? Or are they ugly and monstrous? Do they have a specific motive for what they do—revenge, an axe to grind, or mentally unstable? Do you want your reader to have empathy for them or just be waiting anxiously for them to get what’s coming to them? Do they have a sense of humor? What is their personality like in every day life when they aren’t being naughty? Give your villains a past that ties into the reason for their villainous activities.

In my book, BLACK ROCK: A TIME FOR LOVE, Bradford Wellman is a villain who has specific reasons for what he does, but I had one reviewer who didn’t understand why he did specific things. On the surface Brad loved his mother. Although he didn’t realize it himself, he also despised her—thought her weak. This caused a loathing disrespect for all women, thus his acts of cruelty towards Roxanne.

Write down all the personality traits that you find appealing and then write down all the ones you find offensive or appalling. Give your villain both good and bad personality traits and you’ll have a better character. Also pay attention to the things you have them do. Is doing a specific thing or crime out of character for them? Just as in real life, not all criminals commit all crimes.

Have fun creating those villains…until next time.

© Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com  

 


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Why I Don’t Talk Politics and Why I Won’t Be Voting For Barack Obama

I love getting emails from the readers of my blog, even if some of them are less than complimentary. Recently I’ve gotten a few asking why I’ve never written about my political views, especially with such a historic primary election taking place. After all, they said, “It’s clear you’re rather opinionated”. You can normally tell by the tone of a letter whether the person is being complimentary or insulting and at least a couple of these emails were insulting in tone. Not that it matters, insulting or complimentary—they were correct. I am opinionated.

 

The reason I don’t use my blog as a stage for my political views is simple. They’d be no more than raging rants and although perhaps entertaining for some, would simply annoy and offend most. But since you asked (and I’m sure you’ll be glad you did), I’ll give you an abbreviated and watered down version.

 

I’m what many would term an independent voter, I vote for the person I feel is best suited for the job. Considering my voting habits over the years, I’d probably be a Democrat, but I don’t support any individual political party. To me this would be akin to supporting some vast criminal organization. That’s pretty much my view of politics—organized crime. And the criminals sitting in Washington DC are sucking the life’s blood from the American workers. By American workers I’m not referring to corporations, those who run them or to those who are paid exorbitant salaries such as professional athletes, movie/music stars, famous authors, ect… I’m speaking of the normal workers, the farmers, factory workers, waitresses, nurses, secretaries, teachers, cashiers, truckers, and all the others whose backs this country is resting on.

 

Those backs are now bending like a sapling in a windstorm and I wonder how much more pressure they’ll take before breaking. While the so called ‘experts’ talk about people cutting back on summer vacation plans, turning down thermostats and making other cutbacks, a large number of these hard working Americans are trying to figure out what bill they can forgo paying in order to make a trip to the grocery store. And to all you guys who have your heads up your ass, it’s not because they’ve always lived beyond their means and are now paying the price. Although some have and do, most of these people have always lived below their means, driving used cars and living in fixer uppers or renting. They don’t entertain, take vacations or spend money frivolously. In the past some have done relatively well, even being able to put back money for their children’s education. Those days are fast coming to an end.

 

Those who have savings accounts are watching them dwindle or they’re already gone. Since most of them are already living a life style in which cutting back and scrimping are normal, they are now desperately seeking to find where they can cut back once again. The middle class is now becoming the ‘poor’ in America, and the poor? God help them.

 

As I stated above, I’ve always voted independently, but to be honest, I’ve only voted for two Republicans in my twenty years of voting. I have however, had a great deal of respect for many Republicans in office. The Republican Party itself has generated no such respect. In terms dictated by our society, my financial situation has gone from poor to upper middle class over my adult life. The American dream, start at the bottom and work your way up. It was no easy task climbing that ladder and now I can almost feel it being ripped away from my feet. Since I’ve never been wealthy, I rarely vote for the Republican Party in an election as important as the office of president and won’t be voting in the upcoming presidential election at all. I’ll not vote for our Republican candidate, even though I have nothing against him. He’s simply another politician whose party is well known for stomping the guts out of the poor without giving it a second’s notice.

 

Then we come to the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama. I’m still pondering the love affair America is having with this man. I don’t understand it. I’ll admit he can be charming—could sell air conditioners in the middle of a blizzard. But it’s all surface charm, without substance. This country needs change and if OB wins the election, I’ll be curious to see if he can be the savior everyone seems to think he’ll be. To me, he’s simply another elitist Republican dressed up like a Democrat in order to win votes.

 

Like many of my comrades, I’m hurting financially and regardless of all the bull shit being spouted by the experts, everyone knows deep down that if things don’t take a drastic turn, more and more are going to be hurting and badly. No one likes to lay blame, but in this case, all these present financial woes can be placed squarely on the shoulders of the present administration. Okay, this little post became a mini rant and that’s why I rarely talk politics.

 

Elizabeth

 


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Double Trouble: Cat Down The Chimney

I awoke with a start and squinted my droopy eyes at the lighted clock face. Five minutes till midnight, what had awakened me out of a sound sleep? Then it began again. There was a prowler in the house. And not a quiet prowler. It sounded as if they were snatching everything out of my kitchen cupboards and smashing them to the floor. What prowler in their right mind is going to make that kind of noise to alert everyone to his presence? Obviously a dangerous one who doesn’t care if he’s caught and plans to kill you anyway or a very stupid one.

My husband at the time (ex-husband now) gets his gun, unlocks the ammo box, loads the gun and goes after the guy. I sit on the bed waiting. It had grown quiet and I wonder if I should go help or just crawl back into bed and go back to sleep–figuring hubby could handle the situation without any assistance from me. Okay, so going back to sleep was a dumb idea. Before I can decide to offer assistance, he comes back, unloads the gun, locks up the ammo and puts the weapon away. “So what happened?” I asked.

“You can handle this guy,” he answered. Curiosity aroused, I made my way into the kitchen. Nothing was out of place. I continued to the living room. The glass fireplace doors looked as if a giant gorilla had grabbed them and ripped them apart. What in the world? Then I heard the hissing. 

Trouble, a very large, healthy, male cat sat on the wide ledge of my bay window. Trouble, a feral cat that roamed at will through the neighborhood and was ‘not friendly’ even at the best of times. This was not one of those times. He sat there with his back arched and ears laid flat, hissing, snarling and clawing at the air in my direction. I love animals and have a way with them, but I still couldn’t understand why my ex believed me to be a lion tamer, because I definitely was not. And I most definitely didn’t want to take on Trouble, who was worse than any lion.

I sucked in a deep breath and inched my way over to the other end of the window, his evil, glowing eyes following my every move. If I could just get that side of the window open, he’d have enough sense to find his way out. I managed to unlock the window and bent to push it up. Trouble snarled, made a leap and landed on my back with claws sank deep into my sensitive flesh. Remember the scene in “The Money Pit” where Shelley Long runs about with the raccoon attached to her. That was me–squealing and running about the living room trying to dislodge this maniacal cat from my back.

Hubby comes running into the room and doubles over in a fit of laughter. Here I am being mauled by a ferocious feline and he’s laughing. I manage somehow to throw the creature off and he runs into the corner, preparing no doubt, for another attack. Now I always had a fondness for Trouble and like the rest of my neighbors kept him well fed, but at this point, I was angry and not in the mood to be nice. I marched to the window, pushed it open and circled around him. Trouble must have known he’d gone too far. He took one look at the scowl on my face, hissed once and made a dive for the open window.

The next morning, hubby climbed on the roof and put a screen over the chimney. Unfortunately this didn’t prevent my having another encounter with Trouble. A few days later, as I was hiking the wooded hills in back of our home, I found Trouble caught in a trapper’s steel trap. The trap had no teeth and I could see the cat wasn’t injured. I sighed, knowing I couldn’t go off and leave the poor thing trapped and unable to free itself. I was also smart enough to realize I was in for one hellacious fight. After thinking for a moment or two about the best way to go about freeing him, I whipped off my jacket, threw it over him and frantically tried to open the trap before he could work his way from under the coat.

I wasn’t fast enough. Those traps are not called traps for nothing. They hold firmly and are not easy to open. If Trouble had cooperated, this little operation could have been over with in a matter of seconds. Instead it took me a good five minutes to open the trap while Trouble squealed, snarled, hissed, bit and clawed at me. When he was finally free, he bounced away totally unscathed and without a second thought to his bloody, battle scarred rescuer. Ungrateful wretch. The next day I scoured every inch of those woods, gathering up the remaining traps, hoping that when the trapper discovered his traps had been stolen, he’d not put out anymore. After all, he was illegally trapping on private property.

Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com


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Black Birds In The House

As I sat here this morning reading my emails, I heard the unmistakable racket of a bird falling down the chimney and trying frantically to find a way out. Since I have a fireplace insert, there was no way he was going to make his way to freedom without assistance.

When my son got up for school, I closed the door leading into the hallway, hoping to confine the bird to the living-dining room-kitchen areas of the house. After opening the front door, I had Eric stand between the door and the other room and try to get the bird to go out the front door. Well, you know what they say about the best of plans…” I opened the insert and nothing came out. I told my son the bird must have flown back up the chimney. I’d no sooner gotten the words out when a half grown Starling flew into the room, but he had no interest in seeking freedom via the open door–preferring instead to practice his new aviator skills in my living and dining rooms. Considering he hadn’t grown his long tail feathers yet, he could fly just fine.

Finally deciding to just catch the thing and put him out, we spent the next twenty minutes or so trying to catch him. He had no trouble evading us and even seemed to be enjoying the game. I was on my way to get a pillow case to throw over him when Eric announced another one had come from the fireplace. Now we had two of the little guys flying around. Wanting to kick myself for being an idiot, I rushed over and closed the draft and the insert door before the house turned into an aviary.

The birds continued to ignore the open door, perhaps because it’s an arched opening inset into a small entryway and this confused them. They finally made their way into the kitchen and I opened the door in there. After some encouragement and much laughter from my son and I, one of them flew away to freedom. The other one seemed determined to stay with us forever. He made several tries at reentering the dining room, but I prevented these attempts by standing on a stepladder and flopping a dishcloth at him while my son giggled in the background. Okay, I know I looked foolish, but these antics eventually worked and I managed to shoo him out the open door. Now… if I can just remember to keep the draft in the fireplace closed when not in use and find a way to prevent black birds from building their homes on top of my chimney.

This early morning excitement was nothing compared to the middle of the night adventure I had when a large feral cat fell down the chimney.

 Elizabeth Melton Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com


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Villains — Too Mean?

I recently received the most wonderful review on my newest book. I was pleased as punch with it. The only negative was the reviewer thought my villain was too mean. I’d never before thought about the possibility of a villain being too mean, but after reading this review, I saw that for some people it could be a turn off.

 

My villains are always different and for the most part super mean. In my suspense thriller, NO EXIT, there is the villain and the totally evil, without redemption person who works for him. In this story, the villain is a respectable member of society with a dark side. So the reader gets to know both sides of this character, the good and the bad. As far as villains go—this one is my favorite to date. I do wish I’d toned down the violence a little in that book in order to appeal to a wider audience, but I think the villainous character is perfect.

 

I’ve been asking everyone I know what they prefer in a villain and I’ve gotten answers ranging from, “I don’t like villains, I like to read about good people” to “The more evil, the better”. I guess it goes back to the old saying about not being able to please everyone. As writers, we want to please our readers while staying true to the story we wish to tell. A few writers have told me they don’t care whether or not anyone likes their story because they wrote it for themselves. That may be well and good, but for a writing career, eventually someone else will need to appreciate and enjoy reading what you’ve written.

 

It’s the rare writer whose first manuscript is honed to perfection before reaching an editor’s desk, but with each successive book we improve our writing skills. I think it’s the same with readers. Through their feedback we learn to successfully straddle that line between what we want to write and what readers want to read. Will we eventually be able to please everyone? No, and we shouldn’t try. That’s what’s so wonderful about books and the characters living within their pages, they are as different as the readers who read them.

 

As for the villains in all those books—I love them all, super mean or not.

 

E. G. Parsons

http://elizabethmeltonparsons.com