Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten differences between dogs and cats:

10. Litter boxes

  9. Feline gracefulness

  8. Walks

  7. Cats and leashes don't belong in the same sentence

  6. Mail carriers

  5. Tricks for treats

  4. A pack? Tell me you're kidding.

  3. Come? hahahahahahaha

  2. Kisses vs. purrs

And the #1 difference between dogs and cats:

  1. "You get up on this side. I'll move over. It's the only way we can keep the humans out of our bed."

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Historic Implications

Once upon a time . . .

the world was flat

the sun revolved around this flat world

a pound of gold fell to the ground much faster than a pound of feathers

doctors drew out our blood to cure our illnesses

Marco!

Gutenberg

the inquisition

Polo!

Henry VIII

Thomas Edison

William and Orville Wright

Alexander Graham Bell

NASA

windows

Kindle

iPad

what's next?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Captain Jack Sparrow

Think about his name.

Captain.
He's the boss. You know right away. End of discussion.

Jack.
Jack Be Nimble
Jack of All Trades
Jack the Ripper
Jack Kennedy
Just Jack
And the list goes on.
Jack is his first name. Who he is. His essence.
With a wide range of Jacks, think of all the variations and layers that can be added to a character by using a simple name with a built-in history of sorts.

Sparrow.
A small bird with a melodic song.
Captain Jack Sparrow was but one man on a huge sea.
Yet his voice, his words, captivated all he met . . . one way or another.

I've read that Johnny Depp based his characterization of Sparrow on Keith Richards. After I read that, I could see how his translation of the character played out. He did a great job.

As writers, we don't have a Johnny Depp to interpret the characters who populate our stories. It's our job to make our characters feel just as much alive for our readers as Depp's portrayal of Sparrow felt to viewers. How readers view a character can begin with a single name.

Next time you name a character, remember Captain Jack Sparrow.

And choose your name wisely.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

I'm going to be away from the computer for most of the day today and tomorrow, so I won't have a chance to read your blogs or respond to comments until sometime Saturday afternoon or later. Boo-Hoo!

Have a great weekend, everyone :)

= = = = = = = = = =

Top ten things kids break:

10. Rules

  9. Glasses

  8. Jewelry

  7. DVD Players

  6. Ear Buds

  5. Cameras

  4. Remotes

  3. Toys

  2. Bones

And the #1 thing kids break:

  1. Your Budget!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Day the Dog Ate His Leash

If I wrote kid books, I could probably make a cool story out of this. But I don't. So I won't.

But, yes, sweet little Arf downed that sucker as if it were a burger and he was coming off a two-day drunk. All six feet of it.

He's fine, none the worse for wear. And doggie training goes on. But now he's wearing an old, beat to hell PINK nylon leash instead of his nice slim leather one that matched Woof's.

So speaking of wildlife, Sunday we went here:


And saw this:


And this:


And this:


And more.

My life is a zoo.

Photos courtesy of my live-in handyman.

Monday, July 19, 2010

That Tickle on the Back of Your Neck

Today I want to talk about listening to your sixth sense.

That little voice inside you that for no reason tells you to go inside and lock the door and don't stop to get the mail first.

The same little voice that sometimes tells you where to turn when you're lost.

The voice that is mysteriously silent when you can't find your keys.

Take your inner voice people watching. Does it tell you something about the people who cross your path that is different from what your eyes, ears, and nose tell you?

Reflections from your inner voice can always add at least one layer to your characterization.

Listen to this voice when you're stuck. Does it tell you to make your character drive across the bridge when he's supposed to show up in court? Or maybe it tells you to have your character make a phone call, but it doesn't tell you who she's supposed to call.

Just have her pick up the phone and punch in a number. You might be surprised by who answers.

Trust this voice.

What have you got to lose?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten things you must include in your synopsis:
Why can't I get my tongue out of my cheek?

10. Begin by copying your manuscript's opening paragraph verbatim

  9. Keep the synopsis in past tense

  8. Color of the protagonist's hair

  7. What the protagonist wore when she first encountered the antagonist

  6. Everything about the scene in the middle you decided at the last minute not to cut

  5. Plot events only - nothing about the protagonist's goals, motivation, or conflict

  4. Include at least one line of dialogue on each page

  3. Use several adjectives and adverbs to paint a full picture

  2. Ten pages at least

And the #1 thing you must include in your synopsis:

  1. A teaser question at the end - reveal NOTHING about the ending!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Is It Real ... Or Is It Fiction?

Please excuse formatting errors below. I've messed with this way too long, and no matter what I've tried, the preview version shows either random extra lines or no lines. So I opted to go with more white space instead of less. Maybe it will be correct when I post.


- - - - - - - - - -


I've told you before I'm a news junkie.

Can you imagine what a field day I've had over the past few weeks?

Still keeping up with the mess in the Gulf, of course.

The Russian spy scandal.

The Barefoot Bandit.


Cuba freeing political prisoners.

What is the real deal with the Iranian scientist?

Celebrity gossip.

The World Cup.

I could go on, but I'll spare you my obsession.

The thing is, no matter how much I read, journalists, by the very nature of their profession, can't report the full story. The people story. The emotional story.


They report the facts, but even facts are limited to what the journalist unearths or is given. What he can verify. What questions he asks, what answers he's given. All colored by any slant he knowingly or unknowingly puts on the story.

Behind every person in these stories are many more. Mothers, fathers, spouses, children, siblings, friends, enemies. Think how the actions of people in the news affect the lives of those they know. Of those they love, and who love them. And maybe those they've hurt. That's what makes the real story.

That's why I love novels.

With a novel, I get all the story. The author has created the characters and their stories from nothing. Yet when I read, everything becomes real.


Maybe that's why I read so much news . . . to create the story behind the story.


Even if it's only in my mind.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Lab Experiment

Welcome to Monday. Here Under the Tiki Hut, I usually blog about something writing related on Mondays. I stress related because I believe writing is such a personal experience that just because something works for me, it might be the worst thing ever for you and your writing.

I don't necessarily mean things like grammar rules. More like a plotter telling a pantser, "You must outline!"

So I aim for things others may not cover.  Today I'm writing about what to do when nothing works.

Don't be afraid to experiment with your writing - especially if you're having difficulty with something. It doesn't matter what the "something" is. Maybe it has to do with story. Or craft. Or time. Or whatever.

Try writing in a different genre.
Try a different viewpoint character for the troublesome passage.
Try a different ending if the one you wrote doesn't satisfy you.

Take a writing class.
Buy a good grammar book.
Find a good critique partner.

Change the time of day you write.
Change all or some of those little rituals you do - we all have at least one quirk here. Yes, I'm talking to you :)
Rearrange your desk to give yourself a new outlook.

Bottom Line:
Find what works for you.
When it stops working ... change it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's Top Ten

Top ten signs you REALLY need a vacation:

10. You yelled at the postman.

  9. You forgot to feed your pets.

  8. You had a good massage yet you can still bounce rocks off your neck muscles.

  7. You got lost on the way to your mom's.

  6. You believe someone is following you.

  5. You can't sleep.

  4. You forgot it's your week for car pool pick up.

  3. Each item on your To Do List has at least one side list.

  2. Two nights ago your dinner was wine and chocolate.

And the #1 sign you REALLY need a vacation:

 1. You forgot where you hid the last bottle of wine. All you remember is it's with the last bar of chocolate.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

New Words, Old Music

On Monday, Jan Morrison at Crazy Jane presented me with The Versatile Blogger award:


Thanks, Jan.




Jan is new to the Tiki Hut, and I hope she'll become a regular visitor here. I love her blog, and I hope you'll go visit, too, if you haven't already.


The rules passed on to Jan were to list seven new things about herself. She said she'd blabbed about herself enough and wasn't going there. So instead she listed seven of her favorite things in the world.


Her instructions:
You can write about your seven most electrifying sexual moments or new words to the song 'A few of my favorite things'.
Since there's no way I'm writing about my seven most electrifying sexual moments, unless you count that thingie with the toaster, here are my new words to "My Favorite Things" with sincere apologies to Oscar Hammerstein, may he rest in peace:

Sunshine and beaches
Crispy beef tacos
Fresh air and breezes
And loaded-up nachos
Seagulls that clamor, laugh, dance and sing
These are a few of my favorite things.

Rain on the sidewalk
And loud claps of thunder
Smiles on kids' faces
And eyes filled with wonder
Silvery moonlight, like angel wings
These are a few of my favorite things.

When the plot drops
When the words stop
When the end stinks bad
I simply remember my favorite things
So I don't go screaming mad!

Okay, that's done. Now to pass this on to five more Versatile Bloggers. Since the key seems to be VERSATILE, here are my rules: list your seven most memorable moments OR new words to the tune of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."

And my five Versatile Bloggers are:
Alex at Alex J. Cavanaugh
Arlee at tossing it out
Elspeth at It's a Mystery
Karen at Coming Down the Mountain
Jayne at A Novice Novelist

Stop by and pay them a visit ... if you dare!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Edgy Deadlines

Our holiday was wonderful, but I'm about fireworked and paraded out for a while. It feels right to settle into what passes for routine around here.

FWIW, my routine is probably anyone else's jumbled day. That's another post. One day.

I know today's the official day off for a Sunday July 4, but since I don't get official days off, here I am.

Because I'm working today, it has the reverse affect on me of playing hooky. This is how my mind perceives it, whether or not it's true, since I would be writing today no matter what.

Today I'm getting a little ahead. Giving myself a little wiggle room. Gaining an edge.

I like that. A lot.

How about you?

Do you like to stay ahead of the curve?

Or do you prefer the crunch of a deadline that you fear you may not make? Is that what it takes for you to buckle yourself to the chair and crank those fingers into motion?

How about your protagonist and antagonist?

Would it make a difference to your characters or your plot or your conflict if this facet of personality came into play?