Monday, December 31, 2007

MMWUC for December 31, 2007

Writers, take the day off. Take tomorrow off, too. But like Scrooge said to Bob Crachett, "Be here all the early the next day," the first day of your future writing career starts with a cold, hard stare in the mirror. What do you really have to do to be the best writer you want to be? I have to make my opening forty pages sizzle more.

The joy of writing and the struggle to get published begins anew.

By the way, I'm having oysters on crackers at midnight. How do you ring in the new year?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Steal this idea - "Fifty Places"

When I first read the article that made a snide remark to this mythical book, I thought it was a real book already. The writer did call it a best-seller, and with the proper treatment, I think this could be a best-selling idea either fiction (with some story attached) or non-fiction.

"Fifty Places Not Worth Seeing Before You Die"

What are the fifty places you don't think anyone needs to visit?

The inspiration for this idea suggested Shreveport, Louisiana and gave a convincing argument for me not to visit this town. I thought of Camden, New Jersey as another possibility. Perhaps in your non-fiction story, your protagonist finds this lists and decides to visit all fifty places. Perhaps the news wires pick up on his story after a while. Tourism picks up in these towns pick up. The towns get an influx of money and start to flourish. The protag gets hailed for his work. A noble peace prize is in the offering. Of course, our protag is a near idiot figure out the rest. Think "Forrest Gump" meets Bill Bryson.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Banned But Not Forgotten

On January 2nd, the world changes. No more smoking at cafes in France. This is hard to imagine, and I wonder how many ex-pat American writers, who lived and wrote in Paris, are rolling over in their papers at the moment?

I don't smoke, but I always have liquids nearby, sipping, sipping, sipping when I write. I can't imagine if diet coke (which actually is bad for us) were to be banned. How would I cope? Coffee! How many writers can't live without it? What do you have/do that you can't live without if the Lords of Laws banned it? Fuzzy dice? Pencils in mouth/behind ear/betwixt fingers? Cigarettes in YOUR house?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Fired for Writing and Dumb Crooks

Okay, it's a teaser. The woman in this article was fired for writing on the job. She only wrote during the slow times. Slow times! What's that?

Why can't I write a criminal as dumb as these? Oh yeah, a novel must make some sense and these people make no sense.

Hope the holidays were wonderful for all. Time to get ready for our New Year's Day bash...Asian food for all, and then down to some serious writing about some non-serious stuff.

I thought I saw Austin Carr while I was visiting home in New Jersey, but a thug blocked my view and a redhead had him covered up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Stealing a few minutes at my sisters. Happy holidays to all and hope Santa brought each of you an acceptance.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

On the Road

I've put the cat out, shut off the gas, and blown out the candles. Christmas beckons nine hours up the road in New Jersey. I've spent weeks decorating the house with the spouse so that I can leave. I cleaned the fish tank completely. Eighty-seven confused guppies eye me with distrust. To get revenge, every female gave birth yesterday and twenty-five new ones float near the surface looking things over. The lighting auto-timer is set; the next door neighbor is armed with food for the outside birds. The clean car awaits my form in the well-worn cushions, as the wife shoves one more present into the back buckling the roof and obstructing any view of the road behind me. I've got a diet coke to make it to the daylight hours and five days of computer withdrawal.

Everything is set as the computer is turned down and the only weighty thought on my mind is that we don't own a cat, so where did that one come from? Must be a Festivus Miracle.

Of course, now that I'm ready to post this, I find the water heater leaking from the only pipe that does not hang over our enlarged pan under the dual system. Every time we go on vacation, something happens to the heater or the water system. That dang cat must have chewed on it.

Early happy birthday, Skippy, if you're reading this.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Makes Squirrely Sense to Me

"Squirrels are just rats with good PR," saith the Michael J Fox character on "Spin City". But I'm finding them smarter than I realized because they use shed rattlesnake skin to mask their scent from predators. Why didn't I rub up against Richard Gere when he sat behind me in a restaurant. I could have used some positive scent while hunting females. What's the point? The importance of scent as one of the five senses should never be lost on writers. Without it, our stories could be struck dead by a predator.

By the way, happy solstice.

Friday, December 21, 2007

"The Monkey's Raincoat" by Robert Crais

Okay, I'm a bit late coming to this book published in 1987, but Jack Getze said Crais be one good writer, so I cracked it open. Besides, the cover's red tag read, "Named one of the century's 100 favorite mysteries by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association." That fancy tag and Getze were right, this was a great read. Elvis Cole, a literate, wisecracking Vietnam war vet is an L.A. detective who must find the wayward husband of a mousy wife and pushy female friend. The case mushrooms into something bigger, and Elvis brings in his deadly and mostly silent partner, Joe Pike, as the body count climbs. The story gathers momentum with its tight prose and well-drawn characters until the conclusion when people must decide what they are willing to fight for and die for. Hands down five stars.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Resolutions for 2008

Everyone I know is making resolutions, so I've made mine.

1. Eat better in order to think better so I can write better.
2. Work out five days a week to build stamina so I can write better and write every day.
3. Practice meditation for inner strength to find value in rejections and joy in acceptances.
4. Sleep more regularly and build a schedule that supports continuous submissions.
5. Listen more and talk less when others evaluate my work.

And finally, kill no more than two squirrels per week while imagining they are agents who've rejected me.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Will Strike for Strong Verbs

Strike, strike, strike...Why is writing not considered hard work by the masses?

If you're tired of holding a picket sign, you can always write about a new species of giant rat! Maybe the striking writers mind-meld with the rats and have them attack the evil enemy. Oh, wait! "Ben the two of us..." It's been done before.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Steal These Ideas - "I'll Raise You Two Novellas"

In this story, a postcard arrives at its destination 93 years late. No joke. I'm thinking that there has to be a story buried in there somewhere, perhaps even an inventive murder mystery. Where was it all these years? Why did it get returned now? Could the news on the postcard hold clues to a murder from nearly 100 years ago that caused the rise of one family by the ruination of another, and that this is someway to get the investigation restared. Murder cases are never closed. Hmmmmmmm.

In this story, here's a new twist on an old story that usually stars a man. This woman has ten husbands! It's an immigration scam, but I bet it would make for a great TV movie of the week. Okay TV movies of the week usually aren't great, but someone needs to snap this up before it is a bad episode on CSI: Miami (a really awful show) or Law and Order: Flint, Michigan.

Monday, December 17, 2007

MMWUC for December 17, 2007

EXERCISE: "Final exams for students," Mr. Chips said. "Sometimes life is simple, and you just need to focus on the important things at hand. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from the protagonist's POV, 'All I want for Christmas is...'."

MUSINGS: I'll be on the road, weather permitting, next Monday. And I'm not taking my laptop or accessing my computer or worrying about what wonderfully witty things everyone is saying that I'm missing. Sometimes you just have to put the computer aside, but it is somewhat like withdrawal, especially if some of the things you want for Christmas relate to the computer and what it brings to you: the hope and possibility of publication in my case via email submissions. But more so, there is the pause that refreshes when you set it aside for several days. Like any lifestyle choice that becomes habit after a while, you learn what you can do without, that in the past has just been filler in your life. For me, I think I need to shut off the Internet for a few hours a day to concentrate on writing and not react like a Pavlovian dog each time the new mail dinger chimes. It would also cut down on my laundry. The number of drool bibs is getting a bit excessive.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Next Sound You Hear"

From the Live Science web site, something you should definitely mark as a favorite if you write science fiction, this item caught my attention.

Speedier Satellites -- A primary cause of a warmer planet, carbon dioxide emissions, is having effects that reach into space with a bizarre twist. Air in the atmosphere's outermost layer is very thin, but air molecules still create drag that slows down satellites, requiring engineers to periodically boost them back into their proper orbits. But the amount of carbon dioxide up there is increasing. And while carbon dioxide molecules in the lower atmosphere release energy as heat when they collide, thereby warming the air, the sparser molecules in the upper atmosphere collide less frequently and tend to radiate their energy away, cooling the air around them. With more carbon dioxide up there, more cooling occurs, causing the air to settle. So the atmosphere is less dense and creates less drag.

What if...The Atmosphere Stabilizing Satellite (ASS) crosses over a suddenly less dense hole in the upper atmosphere and disappears into space because the signals can't find the satellite. On Earth, the ASS no longer covers the planet with its cloud seeding and storm disruption rays. Storms overcome some areas and apocalyptic events occur until...

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lexophile Humor

Humor for Lexophiles (lovers of words):

1. I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me.

2. Police were called to a day care where a three-year old was resisting a rest.

3. Did you hear about the guy whose left side was cut off? He's all right now.

4. The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.

5. The butcher backed up into the meat grinder, and got a little behind in his work.

6. To write with a broken pencil is pointless.

7. The short fortune teller who escaped from prison was a small medium at large.

8. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.

9. A thief fell and broke his leg in wet cement. He became a hardened criminal.

10. Thieves who steal corn from a garden could be charged with stalking.

To see the rest, go to this site. (thx to DB...who really needs to update his blog.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Steal this idea - "Meccamania"

This article about the pilgrimage to Mecca got me thinking. What if...

A para-military group made up of a group of people bent on personal revenge and financial banking acquires a nuclear weapon and targets the time of pilgrimage to deliver "their final solution." Someone in the group balks at the thought of this horrendous act, but before she can get the attention of help, she is liquidated. Her death, though, captures the interest of a former Muslim friend, and minor police official, and he starts to investigate. Soon, he realizes the exact nature of the threat, but is rebuffed by his superiors who consider him lower class. He reluctantly turns to MI7 for help and is reeled into the world of secrets, agents, connections to the Massad (sp) and the CIA that can be used for good and for evil in a desperate attempt to stop the para-military group. And he only has a week to gain this trust and stop the slaughter of millions.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Ebaying your book

Bid on book, tab, and curious rejections of fellow novelists book, "In Stereo Where Available" by internet friend, Becky Anderson. I'll have to remember this additional marketing approach. I wonder what I can get for an autographed version of my college thesis, a short story entitled, "Apologies to William Faulkner"? It's brilliant! Brilliant!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Faking it!

Trying to get my "average joe" some false identification. How would you do it?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What's inspiring you this morning, afternoon, or evening?

My brain moving too slowly is morning this. Inspiration. Marques De Paiva Gourmet organic arabica coffee--medium roast. Help maybe, but takes twenty minutes. Meanwhile.

Meteor shower could inspire. The feathery trails of the meteorites lingered. I knew they were remains of ancient ice, the stuff of life. Could they be bringing new life to this dead planet?

Ice storm could inspire. Ice continued to rain over me. Damn volcano blowing up in what was Indonesia. The whole world's gone mad. It's April. We haven't seen the sun in months, and it hasn't been over thirty-two degrees in six months. To hell with global warming. Mother Nature is laughing somewhere.

Coffee. What if it was laced with small trace amounts of cocaine? What if the addictive factor in coffee is not caffeine, but cocaine? What if Juan Valdez was really the mastermind behind my paranoid dreams that made me wage a one-man war against the coffee industry?

Whew! Enough coffee for me. I think I'll go paint the front porch.

Monday, December 10, 2007

MMWUC for December 10, 2007

Writers are still on strike. Write your own wake-up call and post it here in comments.

Sunday, December 9, 2007


After a day of falling trees, choping wood, and stacking a 1/2 cord of wood, we did some Christmas decorating at my SIL's house. I got home. "Casablanca" was on. I watched. Dialogue so sharp, I've got paper cuts on my ears. How'd they do that? How can I do it?

Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Auctioning of Manly Men

Okay, I combined two links into one. Check out the December 5th blog on PUB RANTS about the auction process the agent went through. Hey, I thought it was interesting. Who are the ten most manly men of the writing world? Check it out. Hemingway, London, and Twain top my list. Of course, there is this viking I know and his main character, Austin.

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Editing Muse

Yesterday was a brilliant day of editing. I didn't know there was an editing muse to guide my hand so skillfully. What other muses are out there that I'm not taping into?

(The 16 oz. Hershey bar probably didn't hurt the process either.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Cannabus Conspiracy"

Robert Jones is a medical beat reporter for the Tacoma Times. Fresh from the wires, he reports on medical breakthrough from an independent research organization indicating that marijuana cures several kinds of cancer. Through his column, he champions the government to move quickly to get the active ingredients in marijuana available to the hundreds who die daily. Hours after the news breaks, Xanfield, Inc., a large multi-national corporation headquartered in Washington, files a patent to produce a product based on this research. A coalition of senators and representatives fast-tracks FDA approval and six months later "Marijuana Matrix" is available for only selected test candidates prior to being made available to the general public.

Xanfield's stock has gone through the roof. Everyone is happy. Jones has cancer. When he approaches Xanfield to be a test candidate adding that he has the benefit of national exposure through his column on the drug's positive results, he is not taken as a candidate. He is shocked that he's been denied despite being a perfect candidate. His prognoses is not good, and he decides to spend what time he has left doing things he loves. Then the note arrives, and he's pulled into an investigation of Xanfield executives who've done well financially, the senators and representatives who've done well financially, and the key persons at the "independent" research lab who've done well financially. Test results with the note lead to clues indicating the results were faked, and all the candidates hand selected to make the results look good.

Can Jones live long enough to expose a massive fraud? Can he find the evidence? And what femme fatal (you knew there had to be a love interest) left him the information and falls for a dying man over his current love, who may or may not have set him up?

Steal this idea. I'd love to read it in two years or so.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

New Resources

A few new resources I've added:

* Publications Coach, under the Writing Help lavel, which provides writing tips.

* Reading Recommendations at Stop Your Killing Me, under the Mystery and Crime Stuff label, which provides lists upon lists of recommendations for reading

* Murder She Writes, under Mystery and Crime Stuff label, which provides writing related help from a quintuplet of writers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

"The Concrete Maze" by Steven Torres

Jasmine Ramos is 13 years old and missing. That is the cold, hard fact. Her father, Luis Ramos, will stop at nothing to find her and then provide the justice that the reluctant NYPD detectives can't seem to meter out. Told through the eyes of Luis' nephew, Marc, the pair dive into a world of drugs, prostitution, and corruption driven by selfish people with too much money and too little humanity. The maze Luis must traverse includes slices of New York City that most don't see and many who have wish they hadn't. A smooth read, it is heart-wrenching at several points with twists that keep you guessing at the ultimate outcome. It is an urban noir thriller engrossing enough for a straight-through read. There is a depth and maturity in the writing that I'm sure will grow and pull this reader back for more. Any minor nit-picking is just that and doesn't diminish this from being a 5 star read.

Monday, December 3, 2007

MMWUC for December 3, 2007

EXERCISE: "Tis our season," Dickens shouts, prodding Scrooge in the butt with the Grinch's pointy shoes. An army of elves march up the aisle, singing songs of grandmothers run over by reindeer and dragging a tied-up Macaulay Caulkin behind them as a sacrificial offering. Bill Murray shares a beer with the Grime Reaper and Jack Skellington on a sticky floor. Frosty the snowman slides in on an electric razor head running over Rudolph while John Boy Walton heads for bed at nine in the morning calling to his siblings. Dickens turns. "Close your eyes students, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from the protagonist's POV, 'While he slept, the events of the day streamed through his mind...'."

MUSINGS: Do you capture your dreams? If you don't, why not? They are a rich fertile ground of disassociated thoughts that sometimes lead to magical journals and perhaps novels. It isn't easy at first, but I find, if I talk about them immediately upon waking up or write them down, bits and pieces, fragments, leap out and stay with me longer. A few dreams, or really fragments of dreams, have made it into stories. Make your dreams work for you. After all, you rent them room in your brain for free.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Author Interviews on Court TV

Court TV has a show with author interviews on each Monday at 10:00 p.m. Check it out.


An Internet writing acquaintance alerted me to another site that has potential for those of us who need those other eyes when refining our stories. She has recommended Deadly Prose. If your chapter-by-chapter critiques need a boost with a full novel review, you might won't to check out this site that includes published and unpublished authors and a screening process.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

NANOWRIMO's Next Novel Nudge

2008 NANOWRIMO is over. I failed to achieve the NANO goal. Congratulations to all who did whether they poked along at 1,667 words per day or wrote like a possessed demon whose muse wouldn't let go of them, shaking their fingers furiously until the last strong verb beat the crap out of a useless "was." Sammi slammed over 10,000 words in a day; some writers unknown to me did even more.

I covered just under 11,000 words in my attempt to Nanoize my next novel and did some editing of existing novels. While missing the NANO goal is disappointing, the whole point to NANO is to put the butt in the seat, get something done, shake off the brain dust, sharpen the thoughts, and focus on the thing that writers profess is their passion.

Writers write. It IS the only rule. And if it takes some oddball contest to wake some writers' up to that truth, I'm all for it.

Write on! Write on!! Brothers and sisters in writing. Amen. Write on!!!

Friday, November 30, 2007

MWA's Publishing List

You be the judge. Is Mystery Writers of America (MWA) establishing a level of criteria or becoming elitist with regard to who can be on their panel discussions? Is that level of criteria too high or really just right to create a measure of quality control? In part, MWA has decided to "...develop quality control, criteria to determine who is a legitimate author and who is not..." based on the book's publisher to ensure that vanity and self-published authors don't end up on panels.

Seems to me, after all the discussions over the years about being a writer/author, that published or unpublished, if that's what you do, you're a writer. Seems to me, if you can publish your book (vanity and self-publishing have been around for a long time), you're an author. Seems to me, there are many coaches/managers/teachers who have a lot to say on how things should be done, although they may not have had the skill sets to perform well on the playing field, and I've seen some good writers who had absolutely nothing worth saying. Seems to me, MWA may be punishing their own lifeblood (authors) by using a yardstick to measure the performance of the publishing industry, not the viability of what the author has to say on an instructional level.

I don't know how they come up with panel members or whether it's a long and arduous chore or if they evaluate the panel members' performance after the fact, which would seem to be the best way to decide if a panel member is worth re-inviting. I'm not an MWA member for no other reason than because I've just not bothered to join. But it is their organization, and they can do with it as they please. But to me, discounting a great many AUTHORS (possibly as high as 50-70%) because of their PUBLISHERS seems backwards and counter-productive.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mohammad and Me

Some British woman is going to be given 40 lashes because her class named a Teddy Bear, Mohammad. I have a character named Mohammad, who's not a particularly nice guy, in one of my novels. I hope I don't get any lashes. That would make me mad.

Are there any other names that get such negative reactions that they probably shouldn't be used?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Bush Whack"

Conspiracy theorists and action authors, this is your day. What if Bush and the boys were right for all the wrong reasons? Huh! What if a routine army patrol finds yet another secret Iraqi installation, and it did contain elements of a Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD). However, the actual weapon triggering devices were ported out of the country only days before the patrol finds the installation. After a brief firefight with the well-paid remaining Iraqi troops, the only clues point to a toy set to hit the Christmas market in two days that will kill thousands of kids world-wide instantly and render the families sick and dying over days. Can your agent overcome the maze of business denials, bureaucratic red-tape, and tight timeframe to stop the sale of this toy while uncovering the shocking truth that...

...the Icelandic President is backing the toys and sleazy manufacturer for years

...that the nebulus Council for Human Population Control supplied the money for the toy

(or some other nonsense)

Gee...almost sounds like a job for James Bond or Clive Cussler.

Monday, November 26, 2007

MMWUC for November 26, 2007

EXERCISE: Students waddle into the classroom and plop into their seats like so many egg dumplings in grandma's turkey leftover surprise soup. Paul Simon, still dressed in his SNL turkey costume, stands on the dais. The faint humming of "Still Crazy After All These Years" settles over the room. He gobbles, "I am a musician. I am a lyricist. I am not a novel writer; however, choosing the right word, Mrs. Robinson instead of Mrs. Roosevelt as in "The Graduate" can mean the difference between a chuckle amongst friends and a lasting image in popular culture." He spreads his wings wide. Students teeter between falling out of their seats laughing, barfing leftovers, or applauding. "Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Today, you will write with new vigor from the antagonist's POV, 'Dozens of herring lay on the counter-top...'."

MUSINGS: ...and a dead body rested on the bar stool like a walrus after a heart-chocking feast. I only wished I could have been there when it happened. Fat Tony, who'd need to beef up to match the bulbous proportions of the dead man, said he actually heard the guy's head crack when it hit the bar. Blood mixed with the juice from the pickled egg jar that fell when the dead man hit the bar. Vodka collins, rum and cokes, beer, and a old-fashioned completed the smells and added to the sticky film on the floor. One of the last smoker's bar, it tasted like a pack of Camels when I breathed through my mouth to avoid smelling the foul air. It smelled as bad as Joe Camel after a week on a Saharan trek. I made a wide swing past the body while heading for the back office. My hand slid along the wall in need of a paint job, flecks pealed like Fat Tony's dandruff. When I passed the door to the woman's room, it opened. Sam Spade came out in drag; I rubbed my hand across his startled cheek. "You need a shave, sweetheart." "I was tailing the dead man's moll, but she gave me the slip," he replied. "Sure," I said. Then a punch out of left field knocked me down. The last thing I remembered was that Sam had a great set of legs.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Thanksgiving

This was my thanksgiving. How was yours?

My Thanksgiving
Kids scream, adults talk
bloated belly sings enough!
Warm fire, victimstalk
Grandkid/grandpa, toot same snore.
Friday we mall walk
Dash to movie popcorn stuffed
Nights of sleepless talk
lifting stories -- realm of lore.

All turn homeward bound
Vacuum litter, mop the floors.
Strip bed without sound
Find pets who beg, "Please, no more."

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Who are you?

I have this little world map at the bottom of the blog. It shows the places from where people have visited my blog on an updated basis. Sometimes there's as many as 64 visitors in a day; sometimes as little as six, but usually it's in the mid-teens. I actually can figure out who a few might be. I can reasonably speculate a few others. But sometimes, I'll get one from some far flung site, and it sets my already over-developed sense of imagination into hyper drive. (It ain't pretty being in my head at that point.) Someday I'll put down on paper the amazing stories surrounding those unusual visitors from northern Chile, a dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, southern India (Is that you Anita?), or Tehran (where a little girl meets the Ayatollah and melts his heart, so he decides to marry her and is stoned to death as an unholy man, not because he married her, but didn't get approval of the father first). Stories are everywhere. Kick over a stone and unleash a good wizard trapped in a salamander's body until a kindness is bestowed upon him, and he brings back unicorns whose horns are the only weapon that can stop the aliens who have been secretly taking over the Earth. I CAN'T STOP!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Six Word Stories

Can you write a story in six words? William Shatner did. Margaret Atwater did. See what they wrote.
Ate turkey, burped, expired in pie.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gobble down your next writing assignment

In honor of turkey day, don't forget to get your turkeys into the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest by April 15th (or so).
It was a dark and stormy night.
Bowlegged frogs littered the roadside mimicking the drunken old men under the railroad bridge who released methane thick as swamp gas into the sultry night choking the frogs in mid-croak in an endless cycle of what passed for life, death, and Al Gore's worst nightmare.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Prior to Black Internet Monday...I have this to offer.

Mother and Daughter clothes. Amber also writes horror which her kids don't get to read...thank goodness.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Who is your scariest character?

Abebooks asked visitors to name the scariest characters in books. The results:

1. Big Brother from 1984 by George Orwell
2. Hannibal Lecter from the novels by Thomas Harris
3. Pennywise the clown from It by Stephen King
4. Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over a Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
5. Count Dracula from Bram Stoker's novel
6. Annie Wilkes from Misery by Stephen King
7. The demon from The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty
8. Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
9. Bill Sykes from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
10. Voldemort from the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling

Got another favorite?

I lifted this list from Southern Review of Books from Anvil Publications. Though promotional in nature, there were some interesting marketing tips in this review.

Monday, November 19, 2007

MMWUC for November 19, 2007

Exercise. Yes, for real, do this exercise before you break into your story. "Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Release and relax. Write for ten minutes, 'I held open the door and in walked...'."

Musings. Do I do my own exercises? Yes. Faithfully? Well, no, but I do find warming up with something I'm not committed to gets the juices flowing so that when I start on my WIP (work in progress), the brain is engaged. And sometimes I keep what I write in the exercise, because it feels like it might lead to something. (What I really should do is put them all in a journal.) Also, I'll try to apply the exercise to my current WIP even if the opening words in the exercise doesn't apply to anything that I'm aware of yet. And it's kind of important to have the brain engaged when you're writing. Finally, I do open my eyes before I start writing. It's dangerous being a writer with pens and pencils sticking up at odd angles, paperclips looking to be launched when least expected, tape ready to hold you hostage, electrical shocks from computers, batteries catching fire on laptops, and radiation leaking from IPods, cell phones, and the X-ray machine in the other room. I'm sure some can write with their eyes closed, but I'm a visualist and need to see the showering sparks from my overhead lamp from the 100 watt bulb in a socket for a 60 watt bulb. Write on!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Steal this idea - "Dust Mite Poop"

I was vaguely aware that NPR was on the radio, and frankly, I don't remember anything about the allergy suffering session except these words, "...dust mite poop." Jack Klugman and Tony Randall invaded my thoughts--television's version of the odd couple. (Stay with me.) Now, the idea of suffering with allergies is not a funny thing...the old rolling pin and hair net gets allergy shots, but I couldn't get over the idea of dust mite poop. What if...

Barry Grubber makes Felix Unger look slothful. But when Barry finds out about dust mite poops, the cleaning gloves get thicker as he starts a one man campaign to wipe out dust mites. After ridding his house of them with a toxic solution he has become immune to, they return. Pushed to the edge, he wages his secret one-man campaign against his perceived enemies, first his neighbor, then the block, and then the town. What starts as a one-person eccentricity becomes a national emergency. Comedy, dramedy, sf gone mad. It's my idea, but you can steal it and make what you can of it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

"Blue Screen" by Robert Parker

I guessed the murderer about six lines after it happened in Robert Parker's "Blue Screen". I even had a handle on the motive. Guessing the murderer and motive early in a story isn't a bad thing, because it's the journey sometimes that makes the story as pleasurable as the surprise of "who dun it." But I must confess that any gossip mag or TV show would have had Erin and Misty's past figured out LONG before the investigators made whoopee. Parker sacrificed a thin plot to create some interesting secondary characters, but the female (Sunny Randall) and male (Jesse Stone) leads packed the emotional punch of the boys on "Dragnet," especially with their staccato dialogue. Parker must have had someplace better to be and phoned in a weak ending. Still, it was a quick read suitable for a long drive with an undesirable in-law. Rosie gets bonus doggie treats from me. I'm sure those who've read the series from the beginning see character development that I don't, but that may be part of the problem for later books in a series -- they still have to stand on their own merit. This one does, but is tipsy earning a 3.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fighting World Hunger Through Vocabularly Lessons

Here's the link to the story. Here's the link to the site where if you get the correct definition to a word, you help fight world hunger.

Inspirational Inclemency

What type of weather inspires you to write? Me! Give me a cold, raw rainy day when the lumpy, mash-potatoed cloud bottoms are occasionally ripped by winds creating wispy feathers of moisture-laden clouds streaking Earth bound to touch and inspire me. Allow the wood stove's fire to warm me while I watch the cloud dance, and a rush of words will spill onto the page.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Write, er, White Stuff

Whoa! Where did Wednesday go? Oh yeah, that's right. I was working in another medium - painting. NANO has been sacrificed to the God of Time. Time is a harsh God, but a steady one, beating out the seconds of the day evenly, giving all of us the same amount of Time, allowing each of us to meter out the use of the gift of Time. My Time didn't go to writing, getting a job, studying for a test, watching TV (although I did get to see the "list" episode of "South Park" in half a stupor with my honey. Maybe today the God of Time will afford me the necessary attention to writing.

As for my painting, I can't pain anymore. I can't do it when it is cold and raw, like it is today, a huge change from the sunny 70s of yesterday. I think Andy Warhol would have appreciated my efforts. The ghostly after images of wood showing through the snowy white of the primer coat on my front porch. My neighbors cheer, the mossy green growth has been vanquished.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Poison People Perfectly

Looking to poison your next victim in your mystery? Check out this blog from Poe's Deadly Daughters about untraceable poisons. Also useful if you have someone who drives over you bed of begonias every Friday night.

Monday, November 12, 2007

MMWUC for November 12, 2007

EXERCISE: Wake me up! My pencil is rubbing me out; my computer is deleting me; my pen is scribbling me into a unrecognizable mass of blue spaghetti. What happens to you when your muse takes off with your electrons to Aruba and you're stuck in Inuvik without a dog sled or toilet paper? I scream into the oblivion of an arctic winter's night, where even the snow white of forever is coal black: "Vampires can't handle the cold."

The flight attendant coos over the intercom: "Close your eyes. Take a deep breath. Fasten your seat belts and relax. For the next three minutes and twenty seconds write, 'I heard the wind rush by and...'."

MUSINGS: It's Monday.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Veteran's Day

Yeah, I'm a Vietnam-era veteran. Thanks to all the other veterans who put themselves in harms way for our country and our way of life. Write about a better day when none of us have to make the decision to do so again.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I've been tagged

Ooh, we're about to get personal over here!The rules of the game are:

A). Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog...

B). Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself...

C). Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs...

D). Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

I got tagged by Rae, and my seven random facts are:

1. I once wrestled an alligator...okay, he was only 14 inches long, but I was only ten at the time. (Yeah, Aunt Joannie)

2. I've never been to Mexico (but I've been to Mexico, NY -- Carol M.) or south of Orlando, Florida (Carol M. again).

3. I inhaled, but then again I'll never run for the Presidency.

4. I ran 36 miles once, but I don't even run to the bathroom anymore, and I have to do that more than once a night.

5. I designed, engineered, created the blueprints, and was the general contractor for my 3,500 sq ft home, but have never worked in the trades or taken a class in architecture. The county engineer approved the plans on the first try.

6. As I age, OCD is becoming part of my life. I don't know how many times I've gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to make sure I've turned off the hose or the oven or an outside light.

7. There is intelligent life in the universe. The odds are too stacked in favor of it, but I find it hard to believe we've been visited without a shred of "verifiable" evidence left behind.

I'm not entirely sure what this has to do with writing, but it did give me an idea or two for a story.

Friday, November 9, 2007

On Memoirs These Days

There was an old man who wrote a book
And an old lady who took a look.
She got a surprise
And widened her eyes.
The story was her life that he took.

On another group site I frequent (IWW), the discussion recently wove around memoirs as first "novels" as suggested by an (editor or agent, I forget) at an event with Haven Kimmel, author of the creative nonfiction memoir (my tongue snaps off with that classification) "A Girl Named Zippy". Is it easier to get a memoir published and then move on to novels? Are all our lives worth laying down on pages for publication? Have we lost our moral compass when it comes between the desire to be published and the willingness to blur the lines between the truth and fiction? Inquiring minds may not want to know, but I do.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

The Smell of Danger

It officially went below 32 degrees, but my gardenias are still in their second blooming -- the fall blush. It got me thinking about Joel Cairo from "The Maltese Falcon". It was his scent in the movie, although in the book it was something else less recognizable. It was very effeminate. What smell would your hunk detective or P.I. have about him? Cigars, cigarettes, Tiparellos?

Segueing my way through the writing world.

Steal this idea - "The Murder of Moo"

I've GOT to include this somehow in my next novel. I can see it clearly. The bad guy getting away when something VERY unexpected prevents him from doing so. Maybe he gets amnesia and falls in love with the female sheriff or something who's investigating his crime(s) and he unwittingly keeps bringing her closer to the truth.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Muse Search

Where do you go to find your muse?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Turkey City Lexicon

I've added the Turkey City Lexicon under "Writing Help". If you're a SF writer, you should memorize. If you write, you should be aware.

Monday, November 5, 2007

MMWUC for November 5, 2007

EXERCISE: Writers pound their keyboards as John Kennedy Toole lumbers up the aisle. He smiles broadly at such an industrious lot, as he positions himself behind the lectern. The clock up ticks to nine a.m. A Yorkie charges in from the side door and bites him. His mother glides into the room through the skylight, somersaults out of the parachute and throws ninja stars at the Yorkie who deflects them with his studded collar. John lies bleeding on the podium. His mother rushes to her son, but a gaggle of men in dark navy blue suits charge out from behind the stage and carry her away, hoisting her high and shouting "Pull at her" or something like that. The Yorkie clears his throat and barks into the microphone, "Close your eyes students, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from the OMNI POV, 'Reginald couldn't wait...'."

The writers don't look up. And with his dying gasp, John asks, "Why?"

The blond haired girl in pig-tails in the front row mutters, "NANO. Must get words done."

MUSINGS: Is 2,000 words a day a reasonable goal for a writer? S. King says it is, and some writers are more productive than him, so they must have no problem with it. But I struggled to 2,001 words on Friday and decided, it's not the words that are the problem, it's the words without a plot that's the problem. Without direction, the words come hard and frankly, somewhat less than stimulating. With direction on Saturday after spending some time to plot a bit of the NANO story, the words flowed better. Were the words better? I don't know, but I'm sure there's a host of critiquers who'd love to decided whether or not I'm a dunce.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Steal this idea - "Chewbacca Found"

A friend, with a bad habit of smoking weird cigarettes, was really worried that Star Wards had actually happened because the dead body of a Chewbacca had been found in Texas. This was months ago, and I paid little attention to her ranting. She couldn't remember what she was listening to, but insisted she was right.

Well she was...sort of.

Somehow, I think this could be an excellent story. Something like a Coen movie where a misheard word starts a massive search for the missing Chewbacca and how everyone reacts to the search, and even once solved, the conspiracy theorists start things back up again.

"Visions in Death" by J. D. Robb (Nora Roberts)

It took me three tries before I could finish Chapter 1. The gruesomeness of the crime wasn't nearly as off-putting as the character of Lieutenant Eve Dallas. Perhaps I'm just not ready for the mid-21st century's version of the inverted thin man series. It's not that she's the cop and that her husband's so fabulously wealthy and a man of infinite abilities, but that he gets to play tag-along detective with his wife despite her otherwise prickly attitude about procedure. I found her as emotionally welcoming as snuggling with an Arctic Grayling. The police procedural parts of the story are top notch, but I stumbled over some surprising awkward writing. Any number of times, I was confused as to who was speaking, and some of the secondary characters were poorly drawn. I was ready for a twist at the end, even though I couldn't fathom its form. I had a hard time rating this story and settled for a strong 3 though I suspect her legion of fans will envision me dead.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Post-Halloween Thoughts

I'm sad. The only two goblins I expected to see at my door in the middle of the woods never showed. And I had two 14 inch long okras for each boy figuring that kids these days eat too much candy and this would be better for them.
I like Halloween; my wife loves Halloween. I dressed in appropriate orange all day to scare the birds, forest animals, and goldfish. The goldfish, however, had this funny loving look in their eyes. I'll never wear all orange around them again.
Can we cease with the blood and gore Halloween movies? I wanted to relax with an Italian sausage on bun for an hour or two last night, and all I found on my 902 channels were gory "Halloween" movies. Vampires sucking, werewolves woofing, the dead rising, bees stinging, jellyfish jiggling, and sharks snapping. And just what do sharks have to do with Halloween? I mean, I like Jack Nicholson. "Here's Johnny." But the last time I checked, no one except some poor Eskimo on an ice flow gets that much snow at Halloween. My wife pulled out Bambi and slipped into the VHS. We breathed a sigh of relief until we realized 39 seconds later that it was my copy of "Bambi vs. Godzilla". End of story.
NANO day one went well. Have a log of each day near the bottom on the right-hand side.
Must go write; must think; must get rid of those okra, they're starting to stink.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

NANO Nuttiness Begins

I thought about staying up all night, yanking those first 1,667 words out of my brain, dropping them on paper like gifts from my muse, slamming down cups of coffee to keep me awake, but I'm getting old. I need my two hours of sleep (then pee), then two more (then pee), then maybe three more and awake refreshed in the morning, bed hair directionless, and waddle into the bathroom to pee. (You just knew it was coming.) The words can wait until I get a plot. I did open a file for the story and a few supporting files where I put character lists, names list, timeline, and other assorted tools. I even wrote the title and the opening paragraph. I woke my wife up and read it to her. "It sucks." She rolled over and went back to sleep. I'm not sure if she was dreaming about our vacuum cleaner or commenting on my opening paragraph.
"Secrets My Grandmother Never Told Me"

Two years ago, my 78-year-old grandmother stole a scooter from an elderly gentleman, roared through the terminal to our gate, and barely made the flight out of Istanbul. It took the authorities hours to figure out what had happened. By then, we were halfway across the Atlantic and the plane didn't have the fuel to turn back. For my grandmother, it was just another bizarre episode in a long series of weird adventures that began long before I was born. But now I wonder if her luck has run out. Being wanted by the Turkish government for theft is one thing. Being taken away by Homeland Security after a flight for murder is another.
"Goodnight Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are." - Jimmy D.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Detective Stark arrived on the scene. The skull and crossbones biker club occupied the outside of "The Little Bar". Full beer mugs clinked like bones rattling. Biker chicks squealed from advances or the lack of them. A girl with flaming red hair grabbed a guy with a Jersey Devils shirt on and smothered him to her Pamela Andersons. Though loud, they were orderly for a biker club. Stark walked over to Officer Rodriquez, who was questioning a shuddering skeleton.

"They seem to be enjoying themselves." He nodded in the direction of the bikers.

"Yes, sir." She kept writing her report.

"Why didn't the skeleton cross the road and join them?"

Rodriquez flipped through her notes. "I asked him the same thing."


"He didn't have the guts."
I want candy! I want candy! I want candy!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Steal this idea - "Day of the Dead"

November 1st is the Day of the Dead celebration in many Latin communities. People gather to clean the bones of the dead (like a woman cleaning her husband's). Maybe there's a story here. Part Brigadoon and part night of the living dead were the bones come alive and try to bring the living to someplace "magical" where they can stay with the dead. Do you stay with the dead bones of a loved one or go back to live for more years? Is it against your religion to say? And what if you're a Sheppard and the bones you seek are....

Monday, October 29, 2007

MMWUC for October 29, 2007

EXERCISE: Kate London smiles in her Jimmy Choo's and Christian Dior tailored suit. Writing students sit taller in their chairs smile broadly and watch eagerly. A gaggle of fictional characters are about to share writing wisdom. Aunt Kitty slips into the back row anticipating an introduction like the star she knew she was decades, er, years ago. Students giggle as Austin Carr sneaks out from behind the set made up to appear like the Van Trapp house in Austria or the Goff house out west. Jeanie Callahan waits off-stage to be introduced by Kate. Kitty smiles at Austin, who reminds her of Rudy Valentino, and imagines him performing in the Egyptian Theatre back home until Austin trips over the dead body attorney, Philip Parker. Austin crashes into Kate. They tumble into Jeanie Callahan, who has stepped onstage. Rachel Wilder rushes into the room cluthing a Dodo bird she found on Hispaniola. "I'll get to the bottom of this," she declares. The students applaud thinking it was all part of the act. Austin helps Kate and Jeanie to their feet, grasping buns a bit too fondly. Jeanie smiles her best salesperson smile. Rachel rushes the stage. The lawyer lies dead. Kitty clears her thought. "Close your eyes students, take a deep breath, and relax. Doesn't that feel good. For the next ten minutes, write from he protagonists POV, 'He surprised me...'."

MUSINGS: What makes a character in a story memorable? How do you know you're writing a memorable character? Damn, if I know. On "Seinfeld", they were casting Jerry's sitcom and the only person they agreed upon who was a character was Kramer. Irreverent, spastic, self-absorbed beyond belief, klutzy, adventurous, scamming, screaming loud, and ultimately bizarre Kramer. That's a character. So who's your favorite fictional character and why?

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Death in Fiction

Not the most pleasant subject, but those of us who write mysteries need to understand death to make our prose come alive. Not for the squimish, but this article gives insights into the last moments.
On a happier note, I get to go to the dentist this week so he can probe and scrape and drill and...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Proposal Writer Goofs

Would you work with these authors if the proposal came to you with these errors? Does posting these goofs make the editor less ethical?
Last weekend to prepare for NANO. I'm vascilating on two plot ideas. Must get off the fence.
We got 4.90 inches of rain in three days. My dandelions and crab grass are happy, but there is a long way to go to get out of the drought.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vote For Your Favorite Unpublished Novel

Another possible outlet for writers, Slush Pile Reader, is looking for readers and manuscripts. I don't know the track record for SPR or or some of the other "services" that have sprung up, but I figured I didn't have anything brilliant to say today, so I'd mention SPR before it goes online. It's easier if you get in from the beginning than play catch up if this is your thing. For an interview of the person running SPR, see this article on Writer Unboxed.

P.S. It's raining, lots, YEAH!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

"The Kiss"

Dirk had me where he wanted me. High. My legs dangling. If he was quick enough, I'd plop to the sand faster than that ice cream cone scoop I lost last week. My crotch would explode with pain moments after the hard wood hit, bounced up was too horrible to think about.

He smiled at the fear in my eyes.

"Don't do it," I said.

"Whatcha gonna do about it?" He slipped his muscular leg off to one side.

"Dirk. Don't hurt Rick," Sally pleaded.

"Whatcha gonna do about it?"

Dirk sounded like my Grandma's one-note parrot before I dropped the bowling ball on it. Gawd, I could use the extra weight now to lift Dirk up. What I wouldn't give to weigh sixty pounds.

"I'll never speak to you again," Sally said walking away from Dirk and toward me.

"Talking's overrated," Dirk replied. "At least that's what my old man says." He had a leg on the ground, and I felt my end of the see-saw dip. His shirt hung over the hand bar, but I knew his hands still held on tight.

"This can only end badly for you, Dirk."

"Whatcha gonna do about it?" He had called my bluff and leaned to shove off the see-saw, but Sally grabbed my side.

He rose into the air surprised by her sudden movement. His shirt caught on the hand bar as his body swung under the seat. He wrapped his legs around the seat and dangled upside down. I descended slow enough that the feared crash never occurred. Our positions had been reversed.

"Let me down easy. Please."Dirk pleaded.

I slid to the end of the seat. "Whatcha gonna do about it?"

Sally let go. I jumped off. All seventy-five pounds of Dirk crashed to the ground and a great wailing erupted. I ran to Sally and like my father's favorite actor, John Wayne, had done to Maureen O'Haira, and like Elliott had done to the blond girl in "ET". I bent her backwards and kissed her long and hard, but not with the tongue as I heard my older brother talk about. That was gross.

Sally pushed me away. She swung and and knocked me into the uncaring Dirk in the sand under the see-saw.

She wiped her hand across her face. "Ick. Boy germs," and ran away.

It would be twelve more torturous years before I got a second kiss.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Marketing and Sales and $

Okay, this article is seven days old (big deal), but it certainly makes some interesting points about the ten best ways to market your book. "As the Man Booker Prize looms, every competing publisher has every finger crossed that their book will be boosted into the stratosphere. But what are the reasons a book sells well?"
And yet again. Another look at the NYTimes' best sellers list. I especially like the idea of putting a $100K bonus into a writer's contract if they make it to #1. Anyone out there have that in their contract?

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Steal this idea - "Waterless World"

The city of Raleigh, NC has 37 days of water left by some estimates and will be out of water in January, 2008 according to the Army Corps of Engineers. I've had 2.3 - 2.4 inches of rain since mid-July (and precious little before that). What happens when a major city runs out of water? It might happen in our lifetime to some big city. I think this idea is ripe for those futuristic science fiction writers out there to explore. What are the contingency plans? Dig wells? Buy water, but from whom? Truck in water? Why are the largest water users in most city water systems paying the cheapest amount for water? Is there a conspiracy there? How will our enemies (friends, what's that?) react and support us. What happens when an entire country runs out of water? Yemen is supposed to run out of water by 2015 and has already dug wells for water over a mile deep only to find nothing! Maybe Kevin Costner will star in the movie version.

Monday, October 22, 2007

MMWUC for October 22, 2007

EXERCISE: The gathering students watch the diorama for inspiration.
"It can't be true," the writer yelled. The building shook with his words.

Angel leaned over and laid a white gloved hand on his shoulder. "It's okay. Nobody there understood you anyway."

He spun around and locked a stern gaze on to her green eyes. "Look homeward, Angel. I can almost see it."

She could heard the lie in his words. "No," she said, her rich voice crashing with emotion. "You can't go home again."
The actor strode to center stage. "Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and relax. Write for the next ten minutes from the protagonists POV, 'I was alone with my thoughts when...'."

MUSINGS: Okay, I'm alone with my thoughts, and they are again turning toward chocolate. I want chocolate. There, I've written it. I feel better, but I still don't have any chocolate. And writing about it isn't giving me that sweet endorphin rush. And there is no chocolate in the house, and it's a long way to chocolate from where I live. I've even polished off the semi-morsels for baking. I think there are some of those nasty tea stick, ya know, the ones about six inches long that are really rolled wafers that look like cigars in the Virginia Slims people had made cigars. That might work. With NANO coming, I've got to find some cheap candy. Wait! Halloween's coming. Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Chris Baty. I knew you created NANOWRIMO in November for a reason. All writers can be high on Halloween candy while they writer their 50,000 words. What a pair of evil geniuses! I still don't have chocolate, but the future is looking brighter as I cradle my thoughts.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Steal this idea - "Mole Man in Space"

Okay, I'm not talking about mole man from "The Simpson's" (although that would be kind of funny), but what if we've learned to inject the mole DNA that controls longetivity into a group of astronauts sent to explore the first inhabital planet we find. Mole's DNA allows a 24-year-old mole rate to have the body of a 2-year-old rat. So that's about 1/24th the rate of aging. So if our young astronaut crew of twelve (30-40) are still in breeding age when they arrive 24 years later, they can start a new colony...and that's where the fun begins.

Why are there only six men and two women left? Who gets to mate? What if the planet is not as hospitable as the thousands of little probes said it was? What if the sub-space communications can't inform Earth of the problems they're having? What about Naomi. For God's sake, what about Naomi. And why is everyone getting sensitive to the light and losing their hair?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

"Big Numbers" by Jack Getze

Big Numbers, Big Trouble, Big Debut. Someone is killing Austin Carr. That we know as Jack Getze's 'Big Numbers' opens up. How Austin Carr, barely legal, loving dad, rum swilling, camper-on-the-back of a pick-up dwelling, glib stockbroker gets there, is the basis for this darkly comic fight for survival between the twilight shades of doing wrong and wanting to do right. Austin has more lives than Morris the cat, and he needs every one of them to fend off all the people who want him out of the way. The only thing missing for me is a touch more of the New Jersey. Perhaps the next novel by this newcomer will deepen Austin to cult status, or at least, give us new and inventive ways to put Austin into the hospital. :-) For lovers of hard-hitting, no frills mysteries featuring a lusty redhead for Carr to tussle with, this book puts up big numbers in the ratings.

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Love Story

From our twelve-page wedding invitation sixteen years ago, the lead story was as follows:

--- SNIP ---

"Desperado, why don't you come to your senses,
come down from your the gate."

Cary, NC. Often the question is asked, "Just how did these two end up together in the first place?" For us, it was quite different. We met through a personal ad placed by Carrie in the February 1, 1990 "Spectator", a weekly news magazine. The ad read as follows:

SWF, 36, 5'3", 130 pounds, debt-free Midwest transplant who's attractive, educated, musical, playful, energetic, easy-going, direct, liberal with a sense of humor. Enjoys travel, cultural scene, cooking, long walks, dancing, and movies. Seeking SWM, 32-42, nonsmoker, healthy, secure, optimistic, professional with similar interests. Wanting to develop a romantic, caring relationship to possible commitment. Photo optional. POB 51435, Raleigh 27609.

After responding to her ad via a letter, Rick and Carrie talked on the phone. A meeting was arranged for them to take a walk around Shelley Lake in Raleigh on a blustery, cold Sunday morning. Carrie was late; Rick had a cold; Carrie talked incessantly during the entire walk (hey, she was nervous). After the walk, they went to see "Driving Miss Daisy" at the local theater.

It was not love at first site. In fact, Carrie had some discouraging works about Rick, which she has subsequently forgotten, and felt that he wasn't serious about dating because he spent too much time at work. Rick thought Carrie was okay, but boy could she talk. Although they didn't get together again after the first meeting, Carrie had mentioned Singles Discovery to Rick. He indicated that he would probably attend a meeting some time soon. Carrie thought, "Right!"

At the April meeting of Singles Discovery, Carrie was pleasantly shocked to discover Rick tugging at her sleeve at the beginning of the meeting. Eventually, Rick and Carrie started to do things with some of the other members of Singles Discovery: weekly volleyball games, monthly outings to different restaurants, writing the Singles Discovery newsletter, and going to various other Singles Discovery activities. However, as Angie (Carrie's best friend) can attest, Carrie was puzzled by rick's pedestrian approach to dating.

Finally, Rick asked her out to a Labor Day concert by the NC Symphony orchestra at Meredith College. Carrie had to initiate the first serious kiss of this lover affair. (Hey, Rick really is quite shy.)

After that weekend, Rick and Carrie started doing all sorts of activities together including a trip to Williamsburg and the Outer Banks, an overnight camping trip to Cape Lookout with several friends, and lots of time spent together talking (and talking and talking). They also went to symphony concerts together as well as movies. They helped start a book club in which they are still mainstay members.

Turning point...well, possibly one of many, was the weekend of November 2nd when Rick and Carrie spent two gloriously warm fall days on the mostly deserted beaches of North Carolina camping and fishing. And though to some it may not sound exciting, the weather, the elements, and the company turned the weekend into something special.

The rest, as they say, is history.

--- END OF SNIP ---

Sixteen years later, and still going strong. She made me write this line. Did to. Yes, you did. And yes, it was the debt-free statement that made me answer your ad.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

"Briga-DOOM" by Susan Goodwill

A strong and witty first novel with a revolving door of murder suspects, including Kate, in what will be a nice mystery series. The decidely quirky secondary characters might live down the street from you and are the spice that keeps life and this story interesting to the end when the curtain falls on the bad guy. Susan's uncluttered prose makes for an easy read on a snowy afternoon or a day at the lake while trying to figure out whodunit in a race to uncover the murderer before doom can befall Kate, Ernie, Kitty, and Mudd Lake's Egyptian Theatre. It is a five star romp.

Steal this idea - A cottage industry: prequels

A prequel to "The Maltese Falcon". Why didn't I think of that? To what novel (or movie) would you like to see have a prequel?

How about "The White House's Bell Tolled" where Rick (Humphrey Bogart from "Casablanca") runs guns in Spain and has a showdown with Robert Jordan (Gary Cooper from "For Whom The Bell Tolls") over Maria (Ingrid Bergman)?

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

What Does a CopyEditor Do?

Okay, I've not been through publishing process, but I ran across this blog entry and thought, hey, I bet a lot of people don't know this. Happy reading.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"The Heat of the Moon" by Sandra Parshall

It begins with a slow drive-by reflection, a mangled basset hound, and screaming child calling for her mommy. It then escalates into a gripping psychological mystery as Rachel Goddard, a veterinarian, questions her own identity and her idyllic life with her mother, a psychologist, and her younger sister, who is following in her mother's footsteps. As Rachel peels away the layers of her past in her search for the truth to who she really is, what she'll do with it when she finds it keeps you flipping pages to the very end. Though Rachel's new man irritated me, there is little doubt that this novel deserved the Agatha for Best First Mystery in 2007. But it's not just a mystery. It has pages lingering in the literary fiction aisle, because it's also about how we establish, create, and perceive one's identity. It is a five star read out of five stars.

Monday, October 15, 2007

OJ is Truly Stranger Than Fiction

Don't know if it was a rerun, but I just watched "Dr. Phil" talk with the Goldman's and the ghost writer for "If I Did It." Won't go on about OJ or the Goldman's. I was more interested in the ghost writer, and the apparent integrity he brought to the project despite his declaration to O.J., "I believe you did it then and still believe you did it." Yeah, he got good money for his efforts, but all believed he made O.J.'s words real and correctly framed a compelling though sickening read.

When I grow up, I want to be a ghost writer. I bet many spirits want their story told.

MMWUC for October 15, 2007

EXERCISE: "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. No. I really mean it. Close, breath, and relax. Doesn't that feel good. For the next ten minutes, write from any animal's point of view, 'If only my owner would...'" Lassie walked down the aisle between the writers nipping at those who hadn't started to write. Benji patrolled the front row while Beethoven slobbered near the student in the corner. Paulie flew overhead, dropping motivation on unsuspecting writers. Morris the Cat smiled, and then swiped some poor girl's ho-ho. Maraduke bounced Garfield and Odie out of the room. "Freeloaders," he growled. Esmarelda slithered near a group of writers from Maine, imploring them to write with flicks of her tongue like crack of a whip. As the ten minutes expired, the writers gingerly headed for the back of the room to escape to the relative comfort of the cafeteria down the hall. They passed a portly man with strange, slurring British accent and the hundreds of birds perched near and on him.

MUSINGS: My mind wanders a lot. It wanders often in the library where I've been spending some time lately, escaping the household chores, while attempting to study for the Project Manager's Professional exam. It's not going well. My mind wanders a lot. My brain isn't absorbing the material as readily as the memories of all the animals that have appeared in books and movies in my lifetime and that I find calling to me from the library shelves. And yet, when I write an animal story, I can never get the animal to shine on the page like in my mind. My mind wanders a lot, and I find animal traits elusive to capture and make real. I've started Sydney's story a dozen times, but it dies a slow death on the page like the worm that feel out of the sky the other day. Breakfast for a robin, I presumed. The worm wiggled a few times, but the sun shriveled him before my eyes. My mind wanders a lot.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Murder Advice

Gabriella asked the other day about the origin of the phrase "killing your darlings".

Mab Morris did some excellent sleuthing and found the original in "The Yale Book of Quotations". Arthur Quiller-Couch (English writer and critic, 1863-1944) wrote: "Whenever you feel an impulse to perpetuate a piece of exceptionally fine writing, obey it--whole-heartedly--and delete it before sending your manuscript to the press. Murder your darlings." The quote is from the section on the Art of Writing in "On Style" (1916).

There is an important lesson for all of us when we pat ourselves on the back for an exceptional piece of writing. Is it exceptional? Does it belong in the story? Wait a few weeks to answer your own question. It might end up on the floor like all the turkey seques I keep adding to my novels.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Way to His Heart"

Certain bacterias in your stomach make you crave certain foods, like chocolate. What if...

a). Comedy. Her biological clock ticking away, a woman scientist decides to inject the men of her dreams with a bacteria that make them covet the one great food she makes in the hopes that will spur them to love her, only to find out that the grocery delivery guy with a bad accent is really the hunk of her life and is an immigrant scientist from Tysklansksten.

b). Sci-fi. Friendly aliens decide to take over the Earth by getting the entire population addicted to an alien dish that we can no longer resist, but Muslim extremist refuse to eat the unholy dish. Can they save the Earth?

c). Horror. An addictive food turns most of the Earth's population into zombies. (Don't they always turn into zombies craving brains walking deadly slow but always able to catch up to an Olympic sprinter who trips over a moon beam to become their next meal?) Well, maybe not zombies, but a population consumed by only one goal: the acquisition of that food. How do we save ourselves? Think of the rotting mess.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Inquiring Minds Want To Know

The beginning statement on a NANO thread was: "You know you're writing literary fiction when..."

And I snarkily answered: "'ve only sold 2,147 copies of your 1,387 page novel and reporters show up while you're eating dog food out of the can in the back of your yellow Pinto to tell you that you've won the National Book Award, Pulitzer, and Nobel Prize in the same year. And somehow you manage to give them the finger because you just don't care."

But it begs a question. Is litfict just an uber-genre anointed on a genre book ("Mystic River" - a mystery, "For Whom the Bell Tolls" - adventure/war, for examples) that resonates on a deeper level? Can one really write a literary fiction novel ("The Corrections" - a saga) and self-anoint it as litfict and bypass what it really is?

Or are all novels really mysteries where someone struggles with someone for something?

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Steal this idea - Instant Series

Feeling a bit lost for NANOWRIMO? Adopt a title; steal the pitch; write the story. Bon appetit.

Title: "Nine One One" Pitch: Nine dead, one murderer, one victim left. Will she live? Or, will she be the tenth victim? Or, will Detective Tim Rhodes arrive in time to save her?

Title: "The Tenth Victim" Pitch: Detective Tim Rhodes leads a crack team of FBI investigators on the trail of serial killer. With nine victims already, has Tim's missing daughter become the tenth victim?

Title: "86" Pitch: Detective Tim Rhodes hunts down a mad killer who scrawls "86" on each victim. Tim believes the message means much more than the obvious. Then, he runs into the next victim, an old classmate and mother to the daughter he didn't know he had until now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Guest Blog

My fifteen-year-old cockatiel, Sydney, begged for a guest post. Here it is:

Bright lights. Someone comes. It is early. Darkness outside. On my purse, gawd, l love my soft purse, I stretch. Food. Now. Can't they hear me? I've bee yelling politely for ten seconds. Ah, Cheerios. Ah, a cashew. Is it my birthday? Oh, I'm dying of joy. Millet seed. Crunch, snap, pop, snarf. Wait a minute. Every time they give me millet. Wait. Ah, good bowel movement. Where was I? Millet. Delicious, wondrous. Wait a minute. Every time they give me. Ooh. A finger. Oh, I love being on shoulders. Ear lobe. Hey! If I want to nibble, I'll nibble. Damn hand, but the purse is soft. Ooh. Millet. Snarf, gobble, chew. Wait a minute. Every time they. Fresh water. I drink the sweet nectar and shout it's goodness. Ooh. Millet. Ooh. A finger. I can't chose! Up and away on the shoulder again. Yes. To the office. Yes. Ah, that was a good poop. Tissue paper. Get away. Back down on office purse. Bare toes. Attack. Attack. Up and away. No not the kitchen. No I want the office. Not the kitchen purse. Ooh. Millet. Crack, fresh, 2007 is a good year. What's a year? I'm tired. My cardboard box. Darkness. Chewed cardboard is soft underneath. It was a hard morning. I yawn. Yawn. Yawn. Eyes heavy. Sneeze. Sneeze. Ah. Sleep, perhaps to dream. Yawn. I have to remember. Yawn. Remember sleep. Eyes close.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Renaisance Faire Turkeys

My wife and five members of her newly formed recorder group went to the Faire near Charlotte, NC on Sunday to scout out the competition though they are years away from performing in public. (My wife is the merry leader having had a group in Wisconsin for fifteen years.) I stayed home and played housemaid, gardener, bookkeeper, repair man, and writer. She brought me home a roasted turkey drumstick. I gobbled it up in minutes. It was a noble leg, a good leg, a tasty leg. I dreamt of turkeys the past two nights. A gleam of a story not yet ready to be pulled upon is coagulating like the cholesterol plaque in my arteries. Time for more pills and turkey. My mind wanders, and I just hope it finds its way back to my body.

On a side note: What does Buffalo have to do to beat Dallas? Oh, my! What a weird, crazy game.

Monday, October 8, 2007

MMWUC for October 8, 2007

EXERCISE: Columbus Day cancels class, but the writers gather on their own. They do that you know--writing on--despite events going on around them. Downtown, Norwegian descendants fight Italians financed by the Spanish over the right to claim land inhabited by Native Americans who wandered across the Being Sea from Asia 14,568 years ago. I figured out the exact year, ya know. The writers don't care. They conjecture about landing on other worlds with strange beings, the emotional angst of growing up in a two mother or two father family, how to murder someone in a way that hasn't been done before, and what would happen if Bambi really DID meet Godzilla? Somewhere an ape throws a bone high into the sky and hits a butterfly. The dying butterfly flaps no more and causes the mother of all hurricanes to hit Wrightsville Beach on October 19th. It will be just my luck. Chaos.

MUSINGS: I think I've mused too much already. "Close your eyes (unless your driving), take a deep breath (but not if you're in a fire at the moment), and relax (unless you're fleeing a Grizzly Bear in Yellowstone Park). For the next ten minutes, write from the protagonists POV, 'The clown approached...'."

Sunday, October 7, 2007


I'm in. Are you? User name is anilyb. (For those who haven't had their cup of coffee, that's my last name backwards.) I have no idea what I'm writing about, but I'm going outside to cut up some firewood with my chainsaw and think up an outline of a story. Chainsaw? Story? Murder? Naw. It's been done to death. Oooo. But what if the tree falls on me. And I'm alone. And it starts snowing. And the chainsaw is out of reach. And my wife has just left to go up north for a week of ice fishing with her brothers. Naw. But I'll figure something out by next week.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

New Word Definitions

There just are never enough good words.
Here are the 2006 winners of the Washington Post Mensa Invitational, which once again asked readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it by adding, subtracting, or changing one letter, and supply a new definition.
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying (or building) a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who's both stupid AND an a- -hole.
3. Intaxication: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which only lasts until you realize that it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting some.
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Hipatitis: Terminal coolness.
11. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit.)
12. Karmageddon: It's when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, and then the Earth explodes and it's a serious bummer.
13. Decafalon: (n. ): The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
14. Glibido: All talk and no action.
15. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
16. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you've accidentally walked through a spider web.
17. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
18. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you're eating.

Friday, October 5, 2007

"Farewell, My Lovely" by Raymond Chandler

The move to read the classics continues. Marlowe is a hard-headed detective in this novel of twists and turns, and which cheats just a bit on the plot. I can't see the pivotal picture at the center of the plot twist, but that's okay. It fits the noir category perfectly with most of the action occurring at night or in a seedy environment filled with booze and more cigarette smoke than fog in San Francisco. The element that nothing in life is fair rings true. One thing I did learn was that slang and product placement erode after sixty-seven years to the point of footnotes. Not as bad as reading Shakespeare, but it is something to keep in mind as you contemplate the latest cool word that will disappear from our vocabulary next week. Someone commented that Chandler swept Hammett out of the room. Perhaps. "The Maltese Falcon" was a better story; this was better written. The Marlowe here is better drawn (and slightly more likable) than the Spade in the "Falcon" book, but not the movie. F,ML is a five star lovely book.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Oral Traditions Database Now Available

The Center for Studies in Oral Traditions at the University of Missouri is offering it to anyone worldwide with an internet connection and a browser. This site contains nearly 500 articles and 10,000 pages, with all of the contents downloadable as pdf files that you can read online or print out as you wish. The entire electronic archive of Oral Tradition is also searchable by keyword or author name, with phrase-based and Boolean searches possible as well.

Thanks Jeannette for the heads up. This could be a great muse tool.

Writing tip for the ages

Monday's writing tip: "Hook your editor with a strong opening sentence to bring attention to your writing." Are we listening?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Can PNS create POS?

If you have POS (Piece of S---) syndrome about your writing, it may actually be PNS (Perfectly Nice Syndrome) that created it, and you just don't realize it. "Follow the highlighted link, follow the highlighted link, follow, follow, follow, follow, follow the highlighted link."

"She's in the castle, you dummies," Toto barked. His nose twitched and his ears stood on end as Dorothy's three companions shushed him. He bit the lion, tasting the sweet meat. No one had feed him in days, and he tired of his situation with the three stooge's.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

"Murder on the Mind" by L. L. Bartlett

After a brutal mugging in NYC, Jeff Resnick struggles to patch up his life, accept his new psychic abilities, and attempt to use those abilities to help solve a gruesome murder of a banker in Buffalo, New York. The slim book is tightly written and moves briskly forward, a great asset for any mystery. A former insurance investigator downsized out of a job prior to the mugging, Jeff takes the tantalizing clues his on again/off again psychic abilities provide and combines them with sound detective skills to hunt down the killer until he pushes the killer too far threatening his domestic situation. The main plot is intriguing, well done, and a solid read for any mystery lover. The secondary plot surrounding his domestic situation plodded a bit and lacked depth. Still, "Murder on the Mind" is a four out of five star read for the mystery reader in me. For those mystery readers who like the psychic angle, it might climb a bit higher.

Monday, October 1, 2007

MMWUC for October 1, 2007

EXERCISE: A disheveled writer collapsed into his seat in the classroom. "Sign up for NANOWRIMO starts this evening." The words tumbled out of his mouth to no one in particular. His thoughts centered on a plot that didn't exist, dialogue that hadn't been spoken by characters who hadn't been born, and scenery which coloured the mood and tone of the non-existent story. This year he would do it. Fifty-thousand words and a new novel that can be polished over time. Isn't that the hardest part? Getting down a complete original story. The instructors words crashed through the wall of thought. "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from your protagonists POV, 'The shoestring lay in front of me...'."

MUSINGS: Some people view NANOWRIMO as a fools earned--fifty thousand useless words thrown together in a meaningless rush just to create. Perhaps for some people that's true. But for myself and many others, plowing ahead and reaching that goal provides us with the jump start we need once a year to create another story to refine over time. Two of my three completed novels are NANO winners. One year I wrote 79,000 of the initial 84,000 first draft words of my completed novel of 87,000 words. Another year I wrote 38,000 words of a novel I never finished. Someday I might go back to it, knowing I have the germ of an idea to work with. NANOWRIMO generated nearly a billion words last year. This year, I stake my claim to 50,000 words, and who knows, with a little planning, maybe I'll complete an entire novel. Now where are my notes for the workshop I attended?

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Steal this idea - "The Methuselah Mess"

Ah ha! Someone recognizes a problem I thought about years ago--aging criminals. You can go a lot of ways with a story idea like this. (comedy) Octogenarian inmates escape during a visit by retiree volunteers and stir up trouble in Tampa, Florida as they hunt for a hidden bounty of jewels from a 1940s heist. (crime) Septuagenarians, Billy and Bob Jones, seek revenge on the woman who testified against them in their 1949 conviction only to discover that she gave birth to a child--one of theirs--who's now a cop. (horror) Ninety-year-old Samuel Leumas is harassed by a vicious prison warden and a sadistic guard shortly before his release and then discovers he's not aging, but getting younger by the day and has revenge on his mind.

Yeah, I know, there are a few movies with aging criminals, but they are mostly vibrant (and way to mobile) sixty-year-olds.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Is my muse the past?

Am I getting old and nostalgic or is my muse my past? Memories have be rushing at me while I drive, when I dream, when I...ya know... and they come faster than I can write them down. Is there some age we attain when the past comes rushing back with a certain clarity and urgency? And what is the urgency? Are these memories the road crew of our mind trying to flag us down, get our attention, before we drive on and forget them in the wake of the information overload we deal with on a daily basis? Should I move to a cave and emerge years later with these thoughts scribble on the wall for the future to ponder them?

Oh, wait! I have paper. I have a computer. I have an Internet Web Log (blog). Nah! Who wants to read about the first spy I uncovered and what he and I did when I worked for NSA and lived in Berlin, Germany?

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Where do you find inspiration?

After leaving the service and armed with the G.I. bill, I lived in a small college town for four years while pursuing my degree in English. I had selected a creative writing course for the fall term. I wanted to get a head start on my coursework, so I decided to write a few short stories during a three week period between the end of summer and beginning of fall. Splat. The brain froze at the moment of need. I needed to do something radical.

Over breakfast one morning in a local diner, I heard someone lament, "The most exciting thing in this town is watching the light change." Yeah, it's a cliche of sorts, and we did have only one light, and when schools out, there isn't much to do in a dry town in a dry county in which there are more deer than people. So I decided to test the theory. I would spend 24 hours watching the light change.

I reasoned it would be best to start in the late afternoon after rising at noon which was par for the course in the summer. Watching the light change from my post on the only bench downtown turned out to be a rewarding experience. I was harassed by a cop several times for being a vagrant (I wasn't because I had money on me). I got propositioned three times (only one seemed remotely legitimate--the other two would probably be passed out before we got anywhere--a dry town and dry county doesn't mean there wasn't alcohol). I got four items thrown at me (a beer can, empty cup of coffee, wad of paper, and a light bulb--maybe it was Diogenes' cousin). It is colder than you might think in northern Pennsylvania in mid-August in the middle of the night.

3:30 a.m. is the dead of night not midnight. At 3:30 a.m. all the drunks have made it home or have driven off the sides of the mountains and those early-bird workers haven't hit the streets yet. I saw two fender-benders, lots of trucks at night (I was surprised), a Model-T, two corvettes, had various people sit with me, but none for more than an hour (wussies), and had some woman very concerned about my mental state tempting me with chocolate cookies to come into the small downtown clinic. I was able to snatch two cookies without going in. Animals are about more than we realize, and at 4 a.m. a deer jaywalked from behind a closed frat house across the main road and through the Mr. Donuts parking lot without pausing to look both ways. She stood by a dumpster for a few minutes. Disgusted that there were no leftovers, she kicked the refuse container and left.

Did it inspire some great stories? Not until years later, but I did get an "A" in the class, primarily on the strength of my story, "I've Got Them Old Lovesick Cafeteria Blues Again".

A female townie thought what I was doing was bold, cool, daring, and I even remember a few "far outs". My last few summer nights turned out to be exceptionally exciting, and I did learn that watching the light change wasn't the most exciting thing in my small college town.
So where do you find inspiration?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Which witch was which when we went with Wendy watching witches watering wilting willows with wet water while waning Wilbur wept wantonly without William's woollen woven windbreak which was whisked westward with windy whirs when wheezy witches winked wickedly.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Banned Books Week - 09/29-10/06

Thanks for LZ in reminding me that banned books week is coming up. This is but one link to an organization "celebrating" this week. For a more global view, there's Amnesty International's site for banned books and the authors who suffer from the process.

"At least he is not a book burner, you Nazi cow." - Annie Kinsella, "FOD"

Monday, September 24, 2007

MMWUC for September 24, 2007

EXERCISE: James Frey walks into the classroom. Students stare. The shackles of his past impede his progress. He leans forward in an exaggerated manner as though Jacob Marley's chains drag behind him like an anchor. The arrows of outrageous fortune stick to his back like porcupine quills. A large O is branded on his cheek and an editor's arm dangles from behind, the fingers clutching the torn pocket where the memory of his wallet stains his pants. Mark Twain waits for him at the lectern stone-faced. As Frey takes his place in front of the students, Twain clasps Frey's shoulder. "The truth is a harsh master, but you're a master of good writing." Frey straightens his posture and faces the students. "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from a protagonists POV, 'The mirror reflected...'."

MUSINGS: It must be Writers Angry With Anyone (WAWA) week. I've run into a plethora of postings, articles, complaints, and tear-stained web pages with writers angry at agents, publishers, geckos, critiquers, editors, parents, significant others, reviewers, and mailmen. I've been known to vent a bit about the frustration of getting published, but I've never asked a million people to come read my weak writing so I can prove something to an agent and disguise it as some sort of helpful venture for other writers. Yep, the owner a self-serving site to which I won't link believes that one nasty agent needs to feel this writer's wrath by having a million people visit the site in 90 days. I visited and offered constructive suggestions to a first chapter that was serviceable but in need of an editor. I'm sure I will be ignored. I've learned with rejection, that in reflection, it's yourself that needs writing maturation. I doubt any agent will be humbled by any writer's web-based retaliation.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

"The Virgin of Small Plains" by Nancy Pickard

A mystery with a solid arc that pays homage to the story's emotional centerpiece from the first to the last page. Characters react to events at two critical points in their lives, and their core values are put to the test in light of their maturity. Though I figured a few things out early on, the road to get confirmation was filled with doubt, as twists kept plopping down on the page like debris from a twister. It is a story of considerable power dealing with the choices people make throughout their lives, how they justify those choices, and how they reach for redemption later on. The few quibbles about coincidences are insignificant. Highest praises...5 out of 5.

My wife said, "Eh...another good mystery." and then went on with her beading.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Steal this Idea - "Calling All Brains"

You may be able to create a story out of this, but in any case, store this information in your calendar regarding when YOU have to sign up again for the DO NOT CALL list. Start now to write your horror story where aliens get ahold of the list and program a secret message to spread via the telephone to all the people on the list so that they become slaves to the aliens. You CAN buy it. It's a cheap and efficient way to start taking over the earth. Lot cheaper for the aliens then exposing their superweapon to Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum for destruction.

Nothing to do with anything, but the best places in the world to live list is out. Damn, I can't find Mongolia on it. Finland is tops; Eithopia is the bottom.

Friday, September 21, 2007

New Interesting Resources

I've added two links under Writing Help that may be of interest to some.
* A collection of 42,000 war stories from the BBC (thnx RH) is available to inspired your next story for those writing historical fiction.
* Podcasts about writing in general on American Writers (thnx AH) are available. Since I still work on a 28.8 modem, I've not heard the quality of the podcasts, but I've been told they are quite good.

Now let's get out there and make every adjective count. "Adjective!" Leonard Elmore squints jets of ink onto your manuscript.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

True Passion

"Write!" Bubba was a man of few spoken words. He scribbled with his Number 2 pencil on yellow legal pad, smugged with grease from the brake job on which he'd been working.

Hours later, he lay down the pencil worn to the nub next to the thirty or more pages of paper. He smiled at me as he gently pulled a stick of gum from the pack like a debutant pulling a tissue from her sleeve. He growled with satisfaction as he chewed it, and then stretched like a panther ready to pounce on an unsuspecting gazelle.

With six lengthy strides, Bubba stood before the car with his large hands, calloused in ways not normally associated with a mechanic. He flipped on the compressor and grabbed the pneumatic wrench. Bubba tightened the last nut of the tire, and then lowered the car.

"Done," he said.

"Thanks." I looked him in the eye. "Sometimes you just have to strike...." I let the rest of the cliche get sucked into the garage's exhaust fan like a rank fart in a small bathroom.

"'Nuff said." He took my check.

As I drove away, I saw him get another pencil and pad. He plopped them beside his stool before he raised the next car in a long line of tired and patient customers that would keep him busy until late at night.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


This may be old news to some, but Blogger has partnered with the NANOWRIMO. It's no longer National; it's galactic. Get your plot and character sketches in gear for November.

First and last comments on these side notes:
* O.J. I yawn discomfortably at the media's ability to keep him in the limelight and how quickly the conspiracy theorists concocted the "Goldman set him up" defense. Almost as good as the Chewbacca defense (aside to "South Park").
* Spector. Convict him already. His impact on the music industry doesn't give him a free pass to commit murder.
* Spears. Whichever parent gets the kids, the kids lose. To quote Keenu Reeves from "Parenthood", "You need a license to drive, you need a license to hunt, you even need a license for your dog. But they'll let any butt reaming asshole be a father [or mother]."
* Lohan. She'll either be dead and sainted or a superstar at age 27. We are a forgiving society.

Now I must return to the garden and pick the bumper crop of beans, green peppers, and Jalapenos, not to mention the okra.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

"You Can Do It"

Now you can discover that you are not alone in the universe...of writing...and struggling to get your masterpiece published. "How I Got Published: Famous Authors Tell You in Their Own Words" by Ray White (Author), Duane Lindsay (Compiler) is out there for you to digest. Haven't read it yet, because I'm trying to decide if it will inspire me or make me want to dance around a bonfire of my novels burning to the Heavens.

Monday, September 17, 2007

MMWUC for September 17, 2007

EXERCISE: "Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and relax. For the next ten minutes, write from a side-kicks POV, 'I watched her as she paced the ramparts mumbling...'." Students stared at their assignment written in strong block lettering on the whiteboard. One after another they powered up their laptops or opened their journals and wrote. Time elapsed. Some stopped after the allotted time and then started again as others continued on gleefully. Soon, the smells of the cafeteria down the hall foretold of lunch preparations. The clatter of plates and ding of silverware followed. No one had come to the morning session to guide them. No one had said start. No one had said stop. Some had written thousands of words. Hours later at noon, all had left to go eat.

In a tiny room with a one-way mirror to the classroom, the guest teacher smiled in satisfaction. He dimmed the light and stepped outside into the brilliant sunshine. "Writers write," Kafka mouthed before fluttering off.

MUSINGS: I've rewritten the first page of one of my novels for the 81st or 822nd time. I'm not sure which it is. At times it feels like I have an obsessive/compulsive disorder. Yet, the next morning, if I'm honest with myself, I know it will read better. It always does. It is a wonderful and frightening feeling--continual improvement continually.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Time Sensitive - Free Workshops

Registration closes on Saturday, September 15. See this site for free workshops by writers, editors, and publishers. Can't vouch for it, but since time is short, I thought I'd let you know about it.

It Rains

After 44 days without rain (the two days with .02 inches don't count), it has finally rained and continues to do so. The earth drinks in the sweet nectar remnants of Hurricane Humberto.

Nominations Needed

Nominations from authors, editors, publishers, and agents are being accepted for the following awards:

* The PEN Robert Bingham Fellowship for Writers
* The PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography
* The Laura Pels Foundation Awards for Drama
* Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship
* PEN Translation Prize
* PEN Award for Poetry in Translation
* PEN Translation Fund Grants
* Beyond Margins