Monthly Archives: March 2012

puppy joy….

when Bayley was in high school an upper classmen  [or is it class woman since she was in an all girls school? do they even use that term today?] said that all cute dogs are always puppies. And so they are.

Our puppies, well, the three we have now, Grady having given us amazing joy, are worth their weight in fun and games. Sammy, that little rat terrier in the front, can not imagine a dog too big, a challenge to hefty, a chair too high. He’s up for it all. And if he doesn’t get enough face time then he appears and barks until it happens.

Missy, the coon hound on the right, really just want to have her twenty two hours of sleep daily. She’s not fussy. It can be on the grass, in a chair, on the deck, on the sidewalk or when too hot, on the tile floor in the bathroom! She is annoyed by thunder storms and anyone trying to feed her Denta sticks. Nope, she will turn up her nose at a treat if it is not in the appropriate form.

And Marcus. Never should have been named Marcus. We should have named him Eeyore. He’s afraid of everything, has a tail that could wipe out thousands and the softest coat, just like a Gunn bear. Soft.

I don’t often give them credit for what they add to our lives. So. Thanks,  guys.

plot twists…

as a reader of mysteries, it’s the plot twists that make for a sensational story. Yanking your readers down one path only to have it blow up, leaving them feeling like there is nothing left and then opening a new path. That is tough work. I know, I’m trying to do just that in my mystery. Get those red herrings in as soon as I can and then spread out the suspense as to how important those little devils are.

As a fan, I’m delighted there are  two TV shows doing this very thing. One, Once Upon A Time, the story of no happy endings has pulled back a curtain [not ‘the’ curtain because it’s not the Brothers Grimm who are doing the revealing] on the ‘rest of the story’ as Paul Harvey used to say on his old radio show. The story has shown how all the different characters of Fairy Land, now in Storybrook, Maine, interacted outside the confines of the story. This week, it was Little Red Riding Hood’s turn to have her story told. We learn of Red’s true love for Peter [and seriously, could they not have come up with a better name, because I kept thinking about Peter and The Wolf Glory Be! I grew up on Sergei Prokofiev’s composition] And What a Twist! So, do not read here, if you’ve DVR’d the episode and don’t want to know. But…Red is the big bad wolf. Whoa! And the red hood is to keep her from changing. And Granny never told her about her, well, what shall we call it, her gift? her ability? her curse? That was interesting because  a number of OUAT blogs were thinking that the mysterious stranger, the writer, was the Big Bad Wolf! Instead in a great reversal coupled with amazing feminism, and it’s Ruby.

The second series [Awake, the series about a man who’s been in an accident and is living in two realities. Well, he thinks they are two realities. One is which is wife is still alive and one in which is son is still alive. And, the therapists are trying to make him choose. And you can so understand his answer, ‘how can I choose who lives and who doesn’t?’] has done the plot twist far more subtly, mainly because we don’t have any recorded memory to give us backstory so we are amazed by the twist. And, we’re moving back and forth between two worlds and we still don’t know which one is a reality and which one isn’t. But in the second episode, and this is the reality where his son is alive, his police captain has a very terse conversation with someone who looks nasty and wants to make sure that it’s all under control. She assures him it is, and mentions that they didn’t have to take out the whole family. Whoa! All of a sudden you wonder what else is going on in the confused and befuddled brain of the main character. Now. That is truly a twist.

oulipo…

just how much do you think about vowels? I mean…seriously? We all grew up with the A, E, I, O, U and sometimes Y. Right? And we all know that we can’t live without vowels. Think Slavic surnames and you know that vowels make it a little bit easier to speak.

So. When I ran across this in the Wall Street Journal, I was fascinated. OULIPO is the Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle, or Workshop of Potential Literature, a group of writers and mathematicians. Members include Raymond Queneau, François Le Lionnais, Claude Berge, Georges Perec, and Italo Calvino. It was actually in an article by Daniel Levin-Becker, I admit I was taken. Someone who talks not only about the fun of wordsmithing, but ‘language as playground’, Lordy, my Mom would have loved him.

Glory Be! There are seventy six vowels in the first paragraph…not counting the Ys. Out of two hundred eight characters means that 36.5% of the characters used are vowels. 36.5%! Wow! If I add in the spaces, making for two hundred fifty eight characters, it’s still better than a quarter of the characters used are vowels. 29.5% actually.

What does this group of playful language experts, aficionados and others do?  Their goal is “the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy.” And they identify constraints with which to establish their stories. Like writing a poem where each word is on a single line and each successive word is one letter longer, which they call Snowball. Or a Lipogram; Writing that excludes one or more letters. The previous sentence is a lipogram in B, F, H, J, K, Q, V, Y, and Z (it does not contain any of those letters).

I don’t know if my brain could do this for long. But I do get the value. As writers we are told that every word counts. Sometimes you don’t see that, especially in most commercial writing the ‘boiler room’ novels. But if you are into writing for the most discerning of readers, that is, parents and children, then you know that every word means you are telling your story the only way that you can. And a misplaced word can take the reader right out of the story and back into real life…before they’ve finished. That would be sad.

national grammar day…

Yesterday. Yesterday was national grammar day. Oops. National Grammar Day. I don’t think it should be a Sunday. It should be in the middle of the week. Always in the middle of the week. Sundays? You know, people don’t really care about grammar anyway, but on Sundays, well, we have so much else to do. Or, not to do, depending on your definition of Sunday.

NGD is brought to us by The Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar or SPGG. I’m all for good grammar. Except when I’m not because it doesn’t make the point I want to make.

Founded by  Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us [Sic], in 2008, this book is touted as the snarkier American version of Lynn Truss’s Eats Shoots and Leaves.  Truss’s book was a kick and, in the way the book taught simple grammar, memorable. So I’m definitely going to book mark Grammar Girl for future use.

Meanwhile, I’m going to write. And, when I do, I’m going to read it out loud, because that is when I know if it makes sense or not. Grammar or no!

writing times…

I’m not a morning person. I’m really not a night person, just ask my kids, who could stay up later than me on any given day. I’m a day person. Give me a good day! A little sun. A little blue sky. A soft breeze. Above 72 degrees and I am great! Otherwise, I’m just good. Well, for decisions, I mean.  In the early morning my brain goes into list-ing mode, choices, counter choices. No time for decision making. This is what needs to be done. Did you ever study PERT Planning? Program Evaluation and Review Technique.  This is one way to figure out you can do laundry and dust at the same time. But you can’t do laundry, dust and change the bed at the same time. I like PERT. It’s a list with attitude. Some items ‘weigh’ more than others. Cool, huh?

So. Early morning I like to get the list together. And figure things out. I have the chance to make choices about my day. By breakfast, the choices are gone. Well, not really. But the opportunity to change choices is now limited by the amount of time that is now left in the day. So. Yes, essentially,  the choices are gone.

That’s how I feel about my writing. By mid day, the choices are gone and I’m just treading water. I have to get here quickly. To The Crypt. It’s the gray wall, the one I face. Like staring at a blank cave wall. The one window is behind me. I can’t tell if it’s day or night. I determined a while back that facing something interesting is, well, too interesting. But with nothing but gray in front of me, well, what’s on my computer is more interesting.

So. Now it’s morning. Early. And time to write.