Friday, October 30, 2009

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten Halloween costumes:

10. Darth Vader

  9. Ballerina

  8. Devil

  7. Angel

  6. Pirate

  5. Princess

  4. Vampire

  3. Witch

  2. Ghost

And the #1 Halloween costume:

  1. M&M's - plain and with nuts

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween

Ha, ha. Shame on me.

Freida got in touch with me last night. She wasn't happy.

It seems that while I spelled her name correctly in the title of the previous post, I misspelled it in the body.

I apologize, Freida. If it happens again, I'm sure you'll correct me.

Moving along . . .

Halloween is fast approaching. Of course I have to wait, just like everyone else, but the anticipation is exciting.

My live-in handyman isn't as fond of the holiday as I am. But I love seeing the kids because they're so excited. Especially the little ones.

I bought new decorations this year for our new house and couldn't decide between cute or scary. In the end I opted for cute because most of the kids in our area are well under ten. As they grow up, I'll let our decorations grow with them.

So this year, in addition to our scary music, we have one happy ghost, two smiling pumpkins, a string of skeleton lights, and a motion-activated skull with glowing blue eyes and a deep bwahaha laugh.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Freida Schultz

I've made three separate starts to this post. Deleted them all.

Why?

Nothing worked.

Frieda Schultz, my internal editor, is very much alive and kicking. Demanding to be heard. Demanding things be done HER way. She's way too controlling for her own good.

"It's too boring."

"No!"

"Oh, please."

This actually gives me a little heads up in that I need to silence her with some chocolate or cheesecake - or a hammer - before I start to work today.

Why?

Because if I don't, I won't get anywhere on my manuscript. And since I'm smack in the middle of first draft, she could trip me up really bad.

"That last sentence is crappy. Take it out. Think about how you really want to say it."

Shut up, Frieda. Go back to your knitting. I'll call you when I'm ready.

And when I'm ready - when I really need her by my side and up my whatev - do you think she's around?

"Sorry, luv, touring the pyramids this week. Call me next. We'll set a time."

Get in touch with your internal editor. Make sure she show's up when she's supposed to.

But you can't have Frieda.

She's mine.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten road signs:

10. Do Not Pass - turn around

9. Clean Restrooms - bring your scrub brush

8. Stop - don't go

7. No U Turn - I thought we couldn't text and drive

6. Men Working - can we watch?

5. Dip - wrong on so many levels

4. One Way - that's no fun

3. No Turns - but . . .

2. Wrong Way - oops!

And the number one road sign:

1. Aircraft Have Right of Way - Holy Crap!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Chasing Squirrels

Woof and Arf love to chase squirrels.

Not a big surprise - they're dogs.

What is a big surprise is that yesterday Arf almost caught one. If that squirrel hadn't flicked up his tail at the last quarter second, it would've been between Arf's teeth. And I'm sure I would've been hauling a bawling Arf to the vet.

As it was, Arf believed that squirrel was Houdini himself - a master escape artist.

Since I'm smack in the middle of drafting a new manuscript, this little scene got me thinking about people and characters. We all have our Arf moments. Something is in our grasp. We know it's ours. Then - poof- it's gone. As it it were never there to begin with.

Think how that makes you feel. Perplexed, for starters. Depending on the situation, it can go in different directions from that point, but the general direction will be downhill.

Now apply that to your characters. Don't let the strong ones always get their way. Let another one snatch your protagonist's birthday cake out from under her nose just as she's blowing out the candles.

It should give you a good twist - just when you need one.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Do It!

Happy Monday!

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it's a beautiful day.

I'm energized to write.

In fact, I can hardly wait to get started. Not a clue why. I'm sort of always ready to write; in fact, if I go more than a few days without writing, I get a little cranky. My live-in handyman might scratch "a little."

But it's been a while since I've felt so ready to begin. I put words down almost every day, but today I feel inspired. Never let inspiration dance away.

So that's my writing post for today.

Here's a quick writing exercise. You can find the rules and directions for what to do with this list of words here at a previous post. Here are the words for today:
winner
bleak
choose
toothbrush
dog
grab
freak
slimey
witch
beer

Today's take-away is: Grab the Opportunity.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten Texas comfort foods:

10. Chicken and Dumplings

9. Biscuits and Gravy

8. Cobbler

7. Beans and Cornbread

6. Chicken Fried Steak

5. Pot Roast

4. Fried Chicken

3. Mashed Potatoes

2. Macaroni and Cheese

And the number one comfort food:

1. Meat Loaf

Hungry yet?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dogs R Us

Some days I feel like I'm going to the dogs around here.

Especially when they shed. Or get fed up with one another. Or do something so amazingly cute that I can't help but fall in love with them all over again.

Now they're napping. Thank God!

It has been one of those mornings. Arf is getting new molars. I thought his teething was all done. He'll be one year old next month. But no! Little white nubs are poking through his gums.

What are his favorite chew toys? Socks. Not old ones we give him, but ones he sneaks from the laundry basket. He can grab a sock in half a second. And have it shredded in about five.

Add in the annual fall shedding season. Even though I brush them every day, if I skip one day vacuuming, it looks as if I haven't cleaned the floor in a month.

And there's all kinds of hair. Just so I don't get bored.

Both Woof and Arf have a soft, downy undercoat. Woof's is black; Arf's is tan.

Woof's silky topcoat is wavy and he's a tri-color. Arf's topcoat consists of two-inch bristles that are either silver, black, or black tipped with silver.

Since I haven't vacuumed yet today, there are no photos. You have no proof to present to the Health Department.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Shirt and Shoes Required

Wurstfest is a local fall festival billed as Oktoberfest, Texas style!

Yesterday I sent the link to their site to a friend. On the site's General Information page, it states: "PROPER ATTIRE: Shirts and shoes are required attire for festival patrons."

Nothing about pants.

Does this mean we can go pantless? Try it. I dare you.

Nothing about skirts, either. Or things we might wear underneath. Or accessories.

While some of us - people whose lives revolve around words and teens looking for rebellion, as examples - might take this and run with it or at least giggle, all of us know what it means.

It means if you're ripped, don't show it off at Wurstfest. And they don't want to see any beer bellies, either. Cover them up. And don't show up barefoot.

This is a simple example of leaving out the plodding details that every reader understands.

If your protagonist is driving and parks her car, we don't need to know she turned off the key, pulled it out, unbuckled her seatbelt, grabbed her purse, opened the door, slid out from behind the steering wheel, stood up, closed the door, put the keys in her purse, and took a step.

We get it.

All we need to say is Mary Alice parked her car and walked to the front door. Or whatever she does.

The only time you need details is if you're slowing down time and building suspense.

If Mary Alice is driving to the house where she thinks she will find her husband and best friend locked in a steamy embrace, then you can use those details to get into Mary Alice's head and know her state of mind when she finally reaches the door.

Mary Alice cut her lights when she turned onto Nina's street. By the time she was in front of her house, she had slowed to five miles per hour to reduce the engine noise. Instead of pulling into her driveway, she parked at the curb. For a minute she sat still, breathing deeply, trying to calm her nerves. It didn't work. Nerve endings jabbed through her skin, and she couldn't sit still. How dare Nina betray her. How dare she seduce Ron away, even if it wasn't his first time to break their vows. She disabled the interior lights, opened the door, and closed it without a sound. The better to surprise you, my dears. At Nina's door, she pulled her little Beretta Tom Cat from her purse. Then she used the spare key Nina had given her years ago to enter the darkened house.

See how that works?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten plants I have no trouble killing with my black thumb:

10. Lantana

9. Vinca

8. Begonias

7. Hibiscus

6. Roses

5. Tomatoes

4. Kalanchoe

3. Rosemary

2. Cactus

And the number one plant I have no trouble killing:

1. Geraniums - All I have to do is LOOK at them.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

France 1 - Pirates 0

Maybe the Somali pirates should invest in a current copy of Jane's Fighting Ships.

This morning pirates fired on a French Navy vessel in international waters off the coast of Somalia. The French refueling ship La Somme gave chase and captured five suspected pirates.

Speculation is the pirates thought the French vessel was a commercial tanker.

Another example of why books are important.

And another example of why piracy on any scale is - or should be - a concern to be dealt with by the international community.

See Helen Ginger's Straight From Hel post yesterday about book pirates.

A pirate is a pirate is a pirate. Let's not let them win on any front.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Gotta Love Her, Warts and All

Fiction is SO not real life.

In real life, I tend to see the good in people. It's what I expect to see. I don't go searching for their faults. Each flaw comes out over time, but unless it's something that makes me crazy, I don't give it much weight. In fact, I usually never think about it unless someone else says something about a particular quirk.

This is a godawful trait for a fiction writer.

I don't have a problem giving my protagonist and other characters flaws. My problem is thinking what these flaws could be that will still keep them likeable enough to read about.

Big faults are easy enough. One of my protagonists is a jewel thief and is hellbent on revenge. Another has killed. I could go on.

It's the little things that make you crazy about people that make me pull out my hair over my characters.

When I read a book or watch a movie, I look for character flaws. Unless I find something that would make me crazy in real life, I don't see them. If I can't spot them in the work of others, how can I create them in my own?

The upside of this is that my antagonists are rarely all evil. All have had at least a few redeeming qualities.

Is there a master character flaw list someplace? Maybe a mix and match, like pick one from columns A and C, and two from column B?

Can any of you point me in the right direction?

I need help.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten breakfast foods for people who don't eat breakfast:

10. Pie

9. Leftover Cornbread

8. Salad

7. Cold Chicken

6. Cake

5. Grilled Cheese

4. PB&J

3. Chips and Dip

2. Cookies

And the #1 breakfast food for people who don't eat breakfast:

1. Cold Pizza