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?