Thursday, June 26, 2008

Road Trip

98 days to go...Heading to Phoenix in nine hours to drive a car back to North Carolina. (Doesn't this family ever drive cross-country in say, October! My mind is occupied by road songs and novels.

"Radar Love" by Golden Earring comes burst to the front for the songs. "I've been drivin' down the road, my hands wet on the wheel..."

As far as novels, "On the Road" by Jack Kerouac jumps in front of "Blue Highways" by William Least Heat Moon. Never read "Travels with Charlie" so I can't compare it. My character in "Turning 51" (223 rejections) takes a trip from Raleigh, NC to central PA to Boulder, CO in an effort to unravel a mystery. Yeah, I've done that route more than a few times. Lots of memories, but not any exciting romantic interludes with six-toed blondes with eyes of blue ice. That only happens in Germany, but that's a story for another day.

Got one to share...either novel or song?

P.S. Decided the southern route I-10, I-20, and I-85 since I've only hopscotched that area of the country versus the northern route I-40. I've been on every mile of I-40 from Barstow, CA to Wilmington, NC, and most of it several times.

P.P.S. Obviously this means no entries until I get back home. I know, I know. Disappoint is cluttering the pipelines of the Internet.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Scoring New Jersey

1oo days to go...Hard to believe. Better get cracking' soon.

Seventh grade New Jersey students are still trying to persuade me at work where they should go on their field trip, and I continue to score those papers. So where does a 7th grader want to go on their field trips when they think know one will ever know? Six Flags Great Adventure (I'm shocked, not), Dorney Park, Hersey Park, Franklin Museum in Philly, and the Science Museum in Newark, surprisingly large number for Ellis Island with a side order of the Statue of Liberty. Of course, the Jersey shore (or beach) gets many nods, Clementon Park, Stokes, Wildwood, Seaside Heights, Sandy Hook, but surprisingly few mention Atlantic City, except the 13-year-old that knew about the assortment of alcoholic beverages dispensed there. It is nice to see the Natural History Museum in NYC getting copious nods along with the Museum of Modern Art. NYC, in of itself, garnered numerous papers because, by gum it, it's just one fun town.

Some of the more geographically challenged youths opt for day trips to Washington, D.C. along with an afternoon jaunt to Mt. Rushmore. In fact, outside of the tri-state area, D.C. gets quite a few nods. But I won't slight Baltimore. It's aquarium gets mentioned often. Boston gets some nods, along with Niagara Falls. Some local colleges get the nod for a day field trip: Princeton, NYU, Rider, State College of New Jersey (which I believe used to be Trenton State where I spent three semesters in the dark ages).

Even more geographically (and time management) challenged were students expressing the desire for day trips to Disneyworld, California, Texas, Canada, Slovakia, Uzbekistan, Paris, Rome (multiple times), Italy (yes, I know Rome is in Italy), Greece, Guatemala, and Finland. The country of Africa gets mentioned once in a while. It's only a few hours away.

Smarter kids realize that they can't do these foreign trips in just a day. Persuasive students have suggested longer stays in Canada, California, Hawaii, Australia, the country of Europe, Portugal, Spain, and China. An enterprising lad thought a multi-week trip around the world would enlighten his classmates to the multiplicity of cultures. The teachers could pay for it all. I want a job on that staff.

Of course there are kids out there who are smoking the wackyweed a bit younger than my generation did. I've read to outstanding arguments for a trip to the moon, and one that made a passionate case for being the first school kids on Mars. (Not to mention the first people.)

There were many financially conscientious students who indicated that their schools didn't have the funds for a trip and that we should just have a nice day in the cafeteria or the field next door or the park down the street. They made me want to offer the school some of my meager funds to get these kids inspired to greater heights. These kids should go to the movies with the number of kids who suggested the movies were the correct field trip, and then bowling afterwards.

And then there were the more self-absorbed kids. " the MALL, and the school can give each of us $100 to spend." I'm surprised by the number of uninspired kids who thought the mall is an educational trip. Other uninspired educational trips included: 7th street (not sure what town), Burger King (" we can learn a trade..."), the skating rink ("...because it's fun to laugh at the kids who don't know how to skate and fall down a lot..."), a professional sport's game ("...because I love the [Phillies, Giants, Jets, Rangers, Yankees, Mets, Titans, Patriots, etc.]...") and I only noticed that one of these was a girl. Sorry guys, but 50-yard seats for a Giants-Patriots game in 2008-2009 isn't going to be had for $50.

It's been interesting, and don't get me wrong. Out of the 5,000+ papers I've read, I have read some brilliant essays by 12 and 13-year-old kids, written in forty-five minutes, that would have challenged any Pulitzer Prize winner to exceed.

"There is nothing more important than expanding our knowledge on a field trip to become better human beings and improve society."

Right on, kid, whoever you were.

Monday, June 23, 2008

MMWUC for June 23, 2008

101 days...I've been hiding from my writing computer. It stares at me. It looks lonely. It's off. Two more days of work left, then unemployment strikes at the heart of the wallet again. On Saturday, I fly to Phoenix to drive back my sister-in-law's car. I'm unsure of my route back. I-40 all the way or the southern route on I-10, I-20, and I-85. I'm unsure how fast to go. I once did Denver to eastern PA in 29 hours solo. I'm not sure that marathon driving efforts remain in my blood. Should I take my time and soak up the triple-digit heat of the southwest? Should I go through southern Missouri to Memphis in time to catch the crest of the latest and greatest Mississippi flood. (Yo! It's not the heavy rain, Army Corps of Engineer dudes. It's the funnel dikes and the lack of swamp/wetlands to absorb the excess rain to replenish those wonderfully rich flatlands.) Do I know anyone on either route with couches? Skippy's gone from western Oklahoma to Seattle. A rich millionaire wearing dirty overalls and a hayseed hat once helped me out in Missouri when a strong wind damaged my car once. Wonder if he's still there in Jonesboro? If he is, he's probably pushing 90. I used to know some people in New Orleans, but they're gone with the tide. I met a girl in Winslow, Arizona. Such a fine sight to see. Oh wait! That was the Eagles, not me. (Blogger is acting up. Autosave isn't working. Oh well.) I met a nice girl in Richardson, Texas (not far from Dallas off of I-40). It was just before I met my wife. I doubt that either one would appreciate me dropping in like a WWII paratrooper in northern France in June, 1944.

Maybe I'll just sing my way across Texas...El Paso to Beaumont. Should only take me a day or so.

As for the rest of your wrangling writers, let's make each word count.

Monday, June 16, 2008

MMWUC for June 16, 2008

One hundred and eight days...Elizabeth Lyons, sub-God, (God status if I get published) says in her book that I mentioned a few days ago to practice writing riffs (small little sections of writing). Okay, I will. Wanna know what riff writing is...get the book, you won't be disappointed. Or return tomorrow and see an example.

Otherwise, make time for your writing.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Blank Sunday

One hundred and nine, how time does fly, or how flies the time. I ain't got nothing today. Waddya you got?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Are we there yet?

One hundred and ten days...

Still reading more of Elizabeth Lyon's "Manuscript Makeover". Can I find improvement in my "finished" manuscripts based on her words of wisdom? Yep. Do I find things that she's suggested that I've done? Yep. Brings up the question that I've addressed before at some time. When do you know you're done? How do you honestly know that you've accomplished the tasks? I guess we never really know and that's why people like the young woman that runs The Rejector blog continually gets queries from the clueless submitting the dregs of the earth as though the dregs were really National Book Award winning material.

Write on! Write on!! Brothers and sisters, amen. Write on!!!

P.S. Shannon...Have you written today? Get on with it!

Friday, June 13, 2008

13 Black Cats are under the Ladder

Where is eveyone today? Must be Friday the thirteenth that has them all spooked. Call me shocked. I saw no new advertisements for another "Friday the 13th" movie.
Jason uses his walker with deadly accuracy only to forget why he the elderly woman is at his feet and smashing his toes. When he remembers, it's too late. He's in his own worst nightmare on Elm Street relieving Halloween over again each night in his dreams. "Friday the 13th: 88 ain't Great"

Mulch Madness

One hundred and eleven days...

Yippee! My new pile of mulch arrived today. 19 cu yards of worm food and weed smothering delight. I know it has nothing to do with writing, but my wife has turned me into a farmer, so this is nearly as good as finishing a piece of flash fiction.
On April 1st, God smote Satan. Satan went to Hell. The damned wept; angels rejoiced. Gas prices still rose.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I Don't Like Spiders and Snakes

One hundred and twelve days...

Mosquito bites. "Umm. Just love to scratch them," Ned Flanders said to Homer Simpson. He can have them, along with the spider bites and poison ivy. I hit the trifecta the other night and now I'm scratching like nobodies business, but the silver lining is...I'll get back to you on that.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rollcoaster Writing

One hundred and thirteen days...

Where is the love? Some of the persuasion papers I'm scoring at work from seventh grade students in New Jersey that they have to write in forty-five minutes are better than what I can do in a couple of hours with my dictionary at my side. But then again, I don't have a burning passion to convince my principal that Six Flags, Dorney Park, or Hershey Park are educational field trips to examine the extent of their knowledge of gravity, g forces, and the friction cohesion of roller coasters.

Oh yeah, and never forget about all the great and nutritious food you can get at those places that render the cafeteria food "...putrid and poisonous portions of poorly planned poop on a plate." Kid gets an A in my book.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Dolores and the Blond

One hundred and fourteen days...

No breeze stirred for weeks. Four weeks. Travis marveled how dust had accumulated on the porch without leaving in the same manner the minute particles had arrived. Ants marched single file across the sand dunes of dust in search of drops of sweet tea he'd allow to fall. He marveled at their persistence then sprayed them with a can of ant and roach killer.

Another line. A think lined of dark clouds lined the edge of the horizon. They quickly ate the sun, and the promise of showers edged closer until darkness became full and the distant bolts of lightning began with the faintness of the bug. Work had drained him and the promise of rain, the first streak of lightning, and finally, a low rumble that didn't come from the direction of the tracks to the east kept him in his chair.

He heard the first breeze before he felt it. The cottonwoods chimed a hundred yards away, and then the breeze swept across the porch, chilled a bead of sweat, and swept the loosest grains of dust off the porch. He reached up and flicked off the porch light. The house was dark. The breeze pushed again. He checked the chamber. Two rounds. He was ready for Dolores.

Monday, June 9, 2008

MMWUC for June 9, 2008

One hundred and fifteen days...

It's hot, sticky, icky, muggy outside. Find the a/c and fire up your computer. Stick your protagonist outside in the broiler and write about him/her.

Okay, weak, but I'm suffering from chocolate milk withdrawal.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Dolores and the Blond

One hundred and sixteen days...

Dolores sucked on the Budweiser bottle loud and noisy like a starving baby, even dribbling some of the nectar down her chin and onto her turquoise blouse. When she came up for air, she slammed the bottle down and burped triumphantly. Her long fingers, red painted nails with a spot of yellow in the middle (her signature), rose to her lips in an unspoken apology as though she were a countess and committed a faux pas at a state banquet. The twelve old men failed to notice; they feasted on the only other woman at the end of the bar who wavered on her stool with downcast eyes, young and supple, a redhead in the sea of gray, white, or peppered heads.

Quinton, the bartender, took away the spent soldier and a replacement stood at attention on the coaster. "After a month in the joint, you better go slow."

Dolores hesitated. Four weeks ago, the dirty dozen would have tripped over themselves to buy her a drink for a chance at a peck on the cheek or more later in the night when she was too tired or too drunk to care. She dug into the pocket of her jeans. Two crumpled dollars fluttered to the bar as she eyed Quinton. "After a month in the joint, I have a lot of catching up to do." He walked to the end of the bar with her gaze locked on his tight butt. "Yeah, I've got a lot of catching up to do." Dolores had no mind for long-term planning. Revenge suited her better. She milked the second beer for a long time...

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Really, it's just a question of sanity.

One hundred and seventeen days...

It's Saturday. Do you know where your protagonist is? If your protagonist is not in jeopardy, he/she/it isn't working hard enough for you.

Friday, June 6, 2008

"Hot Fun in the Summertime" - Sly and the FS

One hundred and eight teen days...

So, I've put out a fair number of ideas to steal. Anyone take up any of them? If so, how's it going?

Near or over 100 for the next 3-4 days. Can't say I'm all that excited about that. It'd be okay if we'd get a thunderstorm every third or fourth day, but there's not a drop of rain in the forecast for the next seven days, and we've only had less than a half-inch in the last three weeks in my rain gauge. I guess the politicians calling the drought over was more political than reality. Come on, where's a good ol' fashioned tropical storm?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Waterworld Without Kevin Cosner

One hundred and nineteen days...

...and I'm behind schedule by a week.

I've been thinking about the future and writing. Yemen will be out of water by 2020 (NPR report a few years ago). Desalinization plant that Saudi Arabia is thinking of building on their side of the border is tentatively schedule to go on like in 2023 (Something I read from an online UN report years ago). Sucks if you live in Yemen, but I wonder if a proliferation of desalinization plants for the thristy corners of the world will off-set the rising sea water caused by global warming? (Rick skips the sensitive issue of its causes and cyclical nature.)

With the population and farming sucking up more and more of the available fresh water, I would have to think that desalination will have to start on some massive scale. Imagine central Australia watered and a breadbasket to the world. Imagine the interior African countries getting their water via pipelines from the ocean. Maybe Lake Chad (once the fourth largest lake in the world now the size of a large pond) will be filled up again. I'm sure I smell a corporate conspiracy and a different wave of water terrorism coming out of this as well as some hope in some far off desert country who discovers it has a 120B barrel oil reserve and bargains for the water.

Write on, writers.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Ice Cream Overload in Summer's Heat

One hundred and twenty days...

Afloat in an ocean of words, I am. Sam. Ma, I swam to near a swanky swan in summer swimwear. Moose Tracks ice cream has frozen my brain. I don't care. Are you even there?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

If at first you don't succeed, try again darn you

One hundred and twenty-one days...

You have only 2-3 days left to read this for free. This Chronicle of Higher Education article holds in the middle a lesson in persevering in order to get your baby published. Maybe I should send out my flock of babies to another couple hundred agents.

Monday, June 2, 2008

MMWUC for June 2, 2008

One hundred and twenty-two days...


Need more?


Still more inspiration?

Revise. Research. Review. Read and embrace "Manuscript Makeover" by Elizabeth Lyon. Run five miles. Rewrite your 25-word synopsis. Re-evaluate your protagonist's motivation. Read "To Kill a Bird That's Been Making Fun of You". Send me a chocolate candy bar. Write. Keep sending out queries--you aren't in the game if you're in the stands.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away."

One hundred and twenty-three days...

RIAA picked the top 25 songs of the century. While I can't really argue against any of them (they are all great songs), it's disappointing that the Beatles didn't have any in the top 25. I found that odd considering that I remember reading an article a few years back. It stated that "Yesterday" was the most covered song in history. That alone should have knocked something out of the top twenty-five. But picking the top 25 songs is like picking the top 25 of anything. It is a difficult task and will never satisfy everyone because we all come to the table with our taste buds set for our own tasty treats. I don't know what my top 25 for anything would look like, but I know these would end up there:

Song: "Jungleland" by Bruce Springsteen
Book: "Ironweed" by William Kennedy
Movie: "The Sixth Sense" by whatshisname Night Shyamalan (of course, if you know anything about me, you know that "Casablanca" is the greatest movie of all time.)
Place: northern Wisconsin in the fall
Food: Chicken soup with kluskies

Do you have a top 25 item that you can't see the so-called experts leaving out of their endless lists?

"Somewhere, over the rainbow..." And the studio heads were going to cut this song! Sheesh!!