Read And Enjoy

Posted June 7th, 2014 by

In response to the Slate Book Review Against YA mentioning “…you should feel embarrassed when what you’re reading was written for children.”


1. I’m a firm believer that unless a person has a legitimate impediment, EVERYONE can enjoy reading IF he or she discovers WHAT he or she enjoys.  

The beauty of reading is that each reader experiences the words and scenarios uniquely.  Certainly, the writer’s intent (regardless of reading level) is part of the experience, but the reader’s own collective experiences tint understanding and perceptions.  As such, reading a story when younger WILL be a different experience from reading the story as an adult with additional life experiences.  

NO ONE should say you can only read a book once or ONLY at a specific age.

2. The “Young Adult” category is NOT solely based on readability level OR intended audience. Often, a story is categorized as YA solely because the main characters are not adults.  Y’all DO realize that Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer would be (and often are) categorized as YA, right?  Would anyone REALLY say, “Oh, sorry. You’re an adult now. You really shouldn’t read Mark Twain.”

Do most readers or writers even know what a story’s Flesch-Kincaid readability level is? I doubt it, and I doubt most readers or writers care.  I’ve read many examples of YA and Adult fiction across the readability spectrum. It is NOT necessarily vocabulary or literary complexity that determine a great story.  It’s the reading experience that matters. 

Ashamed of what I, or what anyone else, may read based on its category?  


What Does the Fox Say? Grrrrrrrrin

Posted November 3rd, 2013 by

Writers Battle and The Indie Author Debate

Posted June 18th, 2013 by

Bands battle.  Rappers battle.   Athletes battle.  …why not writers?

Next time you catch a battle on tv or on YouTube, take a look at the audience.  Solid moves draw cheers, and particularly painful jabs prod onlookers to cringe. 
I certainly appreciate a good bout, but I didn’t think I’d be oohing, ouching, wincing, and belly-laughing quite so much over a written writers’ blog battle.  Better yet…they’re taking it into the video ring.

Round One

Earlier this week, Michael Kozlowski published a blog post on claiming that Self-Published Authors Are Destroying Literature. (
That alone started a scuffle in the post comments, but the battle was just beginning.

Round Two

Ooooh!  Bob!  Weave!  Jab!  Duck! Ouch!

The Main Event

As if the written blocks and punches weren’t entertaining enough, Mercy and Michael are also taking the blog battle to the webcam arena. 
I don’t know about y’all, but I’m curious to hear how they each define “literature” and if anyone mentions the canon or the history of literary canonization. 
Grab your popcorn and place your bets, folks.  The Indie Author Debate airs on Spreecast this Thursday (06/20/13) at 8 pm CDT. –

Dove Real Beauty Sketches and the AHA Moments

Posted April 23rd, 2013 by
Yes, the YouTube video is a commercial, but it’s much more than JUST a commercial.  It deserves 3 minutes to enjoy the beautiful aha moments and to enjoy the heartwarming experience.

AHA – Visual Artists Are Artists of All the Senses and Language

I never cease to be amazed how artists can translate words, feelings, and emotions into amazing images.  One sketch…one visual (well, two in this example) conveys all the descriptions and emotions perceived and projected by both the subject (who the artist never “saw”) and the third party.

It’s just amazing to watch the artist create such a meaningful and powerful visual image with no visual reference or stimulus.

AHA – Why Do We Mute Our Self Image?

Listen to the descriptions from the subject.  They are very muted, unsure, and at times, almost derogatory.  It makes me wonder if the internal self-image is accurately conveyed through the descriptions or if we innately diminish our self-image when communicating to others. 

Are we taught to brag or be humble?  Does humility mean that we can’t describe our physical features in a more positive light?  …not bragging, but in “nicer” terms like a distinguished solid chin rather than just a big chin as my mother told me?  Wouldn’t a petite button nose be the same thing (but sound nicer) than a stubby little piggy nose?

AHA – People Wear Rose Colored Glasses More Than Expected

It also warms my heart that descriptions from a third party were consistently more pleasant.  We all worry so much about how others see us that it’s kind of nice to see this demonstration of how they often see us in a much better light than we see ourselves.

How We See

I’m sure I could write multiple blog posts about facial features, expressions, emotions, and how we and others perceive shapes and symmetry.  Fortunately, there are already amazing teachers and volumes available for the intricate details of all those factors. 

For now, I think I’ll just enjoy sharing this video with you.  In fact, I think I’ll watch it again…just because it makes me smile.  J


Marriage Mathematical Symbols for Accurate Support or Dissent

Posted March 28th, 2013 by

Do, or don’t.  Support, or dissent.  It’s totally your choice, but I’m letting my mathematical nazi write this blog post (close cousin to my internal grammar nazi).
It’s bad enough trying to figure out all the red and pink symbols popping up in profile pics all over social media, but even when you figure out the two basics (Marriage Equality represented by an equal sign, =and one man, one woman represented by a not equal sign ≠), folks are tinkering around and customizing the symbols. 
I even saw a marriage equality symbol with rectangle-ish pancakes rather than lines for the equal symbol.  I saw another using two silhouetted rifles as the bars on the equal sign.  Still, I can dig the customization and tinkering. 
It’s when the symbols change so much that they no longer mean the same thing that I don’t think these folks are aware of the actual meanings of the symbols they’re using.  I don’t know if it’s the English major in me, the technical writer, or the daughter of a math teacher who’s cringing, but less than accurate use of VERY clear mathematical symbols made me speak up.
Am I speaking up for or against marriage equality? Nope. I’m speaking up for using the most appropriate and accurate symbol when YOU use the visual to voice your support or dissent.

Is this even a mathematical symbol?

What the heck is this?  I think someone mentioned it waving like a flag, but it just looks like a totally different symbol, and frankly, the only double wavy lines I know of like that are water or wave warnings.  Hmmm.  Maybe considering the topic, it might actually make sense if all the other symbols weren’t based on mathematical symbols like = and ≠.
The double tilde or double wavy lines are just out of place.  They don’t have any mathematical equivalent to state your cause with a simple symbol.
A tilde over two equal bars (the symbol for congruent) makes more sense.  Mathematically, congruent means that if you rotate, reflect, and/or translate two shapes of the same size, those two shapes or objects are congruent.  They match.

The tilde symbol, ~ usually indicates a mathematical meaning of equivalency or similarity between two values.  In terms of logic, it is also a similar symbol indicating negation.  It’s also a diacritic placed over certain letters in languages (other than English).
Ok.  A single tilde, ~might make sense.  Mathematically, the ~ means Similar.  Similar is pretty much the same thing as congruent except that one of the shapes or objects has to be resized to match.
It all depends on what you’re really trying to say.  You have to know the actual symbols to know what and how you’re showing your support.

So what EXACTLY are you trying to support?
Marriage Equality?
One man, one woman?

It’s your opinion and your choice.  Please just choose an accurate symbol to represent your support or dissent.  🙂

A Call for Colloquial Humor – lookin’ for funny phrases and sayin’s

Posted February 3rd, 2013 by

Collecting Colloquialisms – Fun / Funny / Punny Colloquialisms

I’ve started collecting funny colloquialisms (local sayings and phrases) that tickle our funny bones around the camp fire, at the pub, or just during friendly conversation.  

Wanna Help Me Brainstorm?  

I have collected quite a few funny colloquialisms already, but they’re mostly southern-ish. I’d appreciate reminders of the many I know I’ve forgotten, and I’d love to hear some new ones that aren’t necessarily “southern.”  …though, you might have to explain some of them to me if they’re not southern.  

I’m listing a handful of the colloquialisms, sayings, and phrases I’ve already gathered as examples below.  …clean examples.  (Quite a few catch  phrases we tend to hear from our friends have much stronger language, but I figured I should keep the posted examples rated G.  🙂 )

There are quite a few hum-dingers in these YouTube videos, too.  (We DO love to play with words.)

I am certainly open to all kinds of fun/pun word play and clever quips of any rating (G-R).  I’m looking for any and all of the funny colloquialisms I have not yet collected, so bring ’em on!  🙂  …though, again, you might have to explain some of them to me if “I ain’t from around there.”

Michigan friends had to explain one local colloquialism to me already.  Unless you know that Michiganders use their hands to represent a map of Michigan, the colloquialism didn’t make much since.  Knowing about the hand/map thing made the phrase funny. 

A Handful of Examples – Fun/Funny Colloquialisms, Sayings, Phrases:

  • …so sweet, it’d bring a tear to a glass eye
  • Colder than a well-digger’s hind end
  • …few bricks shy of a load
  • I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck.
  • Madder than an old wet hen
  • Ill as a hornet
  • Finer than frog hair
  • He’s about as useless as a screen door on a submarine.
  • Nervous as a long –tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs
  • Like shoveling sand with a slotted spoon
  • It’s a gully washer out there.
  • Purty as a speckled pup
  • It’s down yonder a ways as the crow flies
  • Grinnin’ like a possum
  • Happy as a clam
  • No flies on you
  • Draw more flies with honey than with vinegar

Where To Add Your Two Cents/Favorite Funny Colloquialisms

Feel free to post your favorites in the comments below, to social media links to this article (Facebook, for example), or to PM (Private Message) me through Facebook or reach me by email if your example(s) lean more toward an R rating.  😉

Help Add to My Colloquialism Collection And Make Us All Laugh

Whatcha got?  What colorful language do you use or hear when you’re having a beer at the pub or gossiping at the family reunion?  

What have you heard that made you stop, laugh, and say “I know that one!”?  

What have you heard that made you stop and ask “Say what?,” “Do what?,” “Come again?,” or “What the heck does that mean?”

Again, you can submit your favorites by posting to the comments below this blog post.  You can also comment on social media links to this blog post and tag me (like Facebook). You can also PM me through Facebook or reach me by email if you’d rather not post publicly.

Jodie Foster Coming Out at the Golden Globes?

Posted January 15th, 2013 by

So, was Jodi Foster’s acceptance of the Cecil B. Demille Award a “coming out” speech or was it just a normal acceptance speech that happened to include references to people and events that were semi-public/private?

Thoughts from Belly Acres, Alabama:

Dunno, folks.  Down here in ‘bama, we don’t really think about a person’s lifestyle preferences until the subject comes up in conversation.

‘bama Example

For example, at the company Christmas party… “Oh, hi.  Meet my coworker Bob and his partner, Dale.”  Even then, the subject may not go any further since “partner” could mean a few different things.  Usually, we just absorb the statement and realize that it could mean an alternative lifestyle.  Ok.  Good to know.

Now, if the person(s) involved in the conversation happen to want to talk about their alternative lifestyle… well, that’s okay, too.  Conversations can go many ways.  🙂

Overall, though, unless the subject is brought up specifically to let people know and/or to encourage discussing, ’round here, we pretty much assume your lifestyle is similar to our own and don’t nose into your business any further.

If the subject never comes up, most folks around here just don’t think about it too much.  A person is a person regardless of what he or she does with adult consent in his or her own home.  Does anyone really think folks should know the preferences of every person encountered in life?  …doctor, lawyer, school teacher, police officer, waiter, cook, actor, athlete, author, artist?  Does it matter?

Jodie Foster’s Speech at the Golden Globe Awards:

We’re not bellyachin’ ’bout this in Belly Acres, Alabama

Not that it mattered at all to me, but I didn’t know that Jodi Foster lived a “nontraditional” lifestyle.  It’s still okay, and it still doesn’t matter.  I can’t say that I ever really wondered or cared.

Don’t get me wrong.  I love Jodi Foster’s work.  This latest media noise just prompted me to check my video cabinet to find (horror of horrors) that I did not currently own a copy of Candleshoe  one of my favorite Jodi Foster movies.

Thank you, Amazon.  Candleshoe can be in my DVD player within a couple of days or streaming online in a matter of minutes.  Cool.

I do love Jodi Foster’s work.  I can’t really say whether or not I like Jodi Foster, the person or not.  I don’t know her.  I know her work and her characters.  I also know some trivial facts about her career, but I’ve never met her.

As a fan, I would like to meet her someday, but whether I meet her or not, I’m still going to enjoy watching Candleshoe, Freaky Friday, Silence of the Lambs, Maverick, Contact, Ana and the King, Panic Room, and Nim’s Island.

Because her work is so stellar, I believe she must have a pretty awesome personality to do so much and bring her roles to life so well.  Yeah.  I’d like to meet her, but though this latest speech is currently trending in the media, I have to say, any questions I might have about this speech are so far down the totem pole of interesting aspects of Jodie Foster, I doubt I’d even bring the subject up in conversation.  Which means, in ‘bama understanding, that it’ll pretty much be ignored in favor of other topics.  🙂

Cool Christmas Math

Posted December 18th, 2012 by

Yep.  That’s the sum of it on Belly Acres…

…one gift for you…

…one gift for me…

….. a LIGHTSABER!!!!

A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition

Posted December 18th, 2012 by

WHY didn’t I think of that?!?!? Awesome short video of a filmmaker/artist conversing with his 12 year old self.

Jeremiah McDonald, now a 32 year old film maker captures a video conversatoin between his adult self and his 23 year old self.

Book Review: Trusting God When Bad Things Happen

Posted December 18th, 2012 by

From the Author, Shelley Hitz

Trusting God When Bad Things Happen
Guest post by the author, Shelley Hitz

My heart continues to be heavy for all those grieving today across our country. I don’t believe it was a coincidence that I published a book this past week called, “Trusting God When Bad Things Happen.” And even before the tragedy in Connecticut, I felt led to offer it free on Smashwords this month.

Trusting God In The Midst of the “Storms” of Life

When bad things happen, what is your reaction? Do you trust God even when you don’t understand?

There was a dark season in my life when it literally felt like an earthquake had occurred. Everything in my life seemed to be falling apart…my family, my finances, our church. And I asked God the simple question, “Why?” This book is the result of my own search for answers. In the end, God gave me illustrations that I will share with you and brought healing to my heart and my distorted view of Him. I was able to trust Him again, even though my circumstances had not changed.

I pray that God uses this short eBook to deeply impact you as well. I have included questions for reflection for you to go through individually or as a group.

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world!” – John 16:33

One Reader’s Response:

This book has Biblical answers to the ‘Why?’ we are hearing so much today after the shooting tragedy in Connecticut. Thank you, Shelley, for the timeliness and wisdom.” ~Barbara

Download This Book for Free
For anyone interested, you can download the book “Trusting God When Bad Things Happen” FREE this month.

100% Off Coupon Code: HB95F
Expires: January 1, 2013

This book is also available for $0.99 on Kindle

Please feel free to share this book and coupon code with anyone you think could benefit from the topic.

The Belly Acres Review

Hitz is a highly experienced mentor and guide for those of us who struggle to find answers to all the “whys” in the world.  Hitz uses examples and questions from her own struggles and the struggles of others with whom she extendeds a physical or virtual shoulder or hand during those times when we most need a point in the right direction.

One of the main reasons I related well to Trusting God When Bad Things Happen is that it is a rather brief, conversational style with gentle references and “points” to Biblical and scholarly references.  Since the “why” answers vary as widely as the individuals who pose the questions, I’m quite happy that there was no attempt to define a single concrete answer.  Many times, there is no concrete answer, and even if an answer exists, God may not plan for us to know those answers just yet.

Hitz uses stories and analogies to help the reader truly identify the “bad things,” then points the reader in the right direction to explore grace, healing, and even understanding through God’s gentle Word.

Yes, I do recommend Trusting God When Bad Things Happen, especially now, during this recent period of stunned grief and loss, and while Hitz is generously offerring a free ebook copy from Smashwords.  (See the author’s guest post above for the coupon code and details.  Smashwords provides multiple formats for ebooks, so you can download your preferred file, ePub/Nook, mobi/Kindle, etc.)

The author encourages sharing the coupon code for the free ebook, so feel free to share this blog post/information with friends, family, and your church librarian.  Even after the coupon code expires, most of Hitz’s inspirational/guidance ebooks are priced very reasonably, so churches and mentors can affordably use them to help guide us to God through our struggles.

Trusting God When Bad Things Happen is also available for purchase on Amazon.