Friday’s Odds and Ends

There was an interesting pro and con debate on the death penalty in The Dallas Morning News last Sunday. Leon Neyfakh, a staff writer for the Boston Globe wrote, “People who share a deep worry about government overreach, who believe in the sanctity of life and who place great importance on fiscal responsibility should not support a policy that empowers the state to spend large sums of money killing people.”

I thought that was a great point. Most people don’t stop to think about how much more it costs the government – and ultimately us via our taxes – to execute someone than to keep that same someone in prison for the rest of his or her life. This study of the costs of the death penalty shows that the difference can be significant, up to six times more in some states.

It’s never been a secret that I am against the death penalty. To me it is more about revenge than justice. “Something horrible happened and this despicable person was responsible so let’s kill the bastard.”

Moving on to something more pleasant, the other day I read an excellent blog piece in  The Blood Red Pencil blog by Kathryn Craft. She offered this advice about editing, and editing again, before putting a book out. “Learn your lessons ahead of time, folks, and apply them pre-publication—not on your reader’s dime.”

That is most appropriate at this time when anyone can be an author and get a book published via the many online opportunities. What has been happening in the e-book industry is interesting. As more and more books are published, sales are bouncing all over the place. Some writers have noticed a significant drop in sales – myself included – and we have come to the conclusion that the market is saturated. And not just saturated, but saturated with too many books of poor quality, so readers are going elsewhere.

Who can blame them? I hate to spend even $2.99 for a book that is poorly crafted and poorly edited. Maybe not edited at all. What Kathryn pointed out in her article is a problem with careful editing, even in books coming from traditional publishers. One of the issues she pointed out was the use of common phrases that are almost cliches in their overuse, as well as needless repetition of the same gestures and certain words.

We all tend to write the common, the ordinary, the first thing that comes to mind in our first drafts, but that is not good enough. When working with a client, I try to encourage them to rise above the ordinary in what they are writing. It is their choice to do that or not. But they will gain and keep more readers by giving them something fresh and different.

Okay, here’s your Friday Joke from The Laugh Factory:

A man buys a lie detector robot that slaps people who lie. He decides to test it at dinner. He asks his son, “Son, where were you today during school hours?”

 “At school.” The robot slaps the son. “Okay, I went to the movies!”

The father asks, “Which one?”

“Harry Potter.” The robot slaps the son again. “Okay, I was watching porn!”

The father replies, “What? When I was your age I didn’t even know what porn was!” The robot slaps the father.

The mom chimes in, “Haha! After all, he is your son!” The robot slaps the mother.

And let’s finish with a pleasant picture. These are some roses blooming in one part of my flower bed.

2 thoughts on “Friday’s Odds and Ends”

  1. I have a friend who was a big part of the fight against the death penalty in NJ. She told me, quite cynically, that the cost of executing someone is far greater, in dollars, than the cost of keeping that same person in prison for the rest of their life.

    Humans have the revenge gene; it is often misused (Mystic River).

    And killing someone is never reversible.


  2. I loved Mystic River, the book and the movie, and it does prove your point. I also loved your last comment, Alicia. So true and so sad when we find out after the fact that an innocent person was put to death. I have such a hard time having an animal put down when it is in pain and there is no hope, and I really struggle with how somebody could intentionally kill another person.

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