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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

13 Funny One Liners

Rashenbo's Edition #22
Thursday Thirteen #95
It's taken me a bit of time to get back in the groove after being away. I did get a job offer today and will be starting a new job next week, so that's a big relief! For now, I thought we could all use some chuckles and thought I'd share 13 one-liners that I find particularly entertaining.
1. A clear conscience is usually the sign of a bad memory.
2. A day without sunshine is like, night.
3. Atheism is a non-prophet organization.
4. Beauty is in the eye of the beer holder.
5. Boycott shampoo! Demand the REAL poo!
6. Despite the cost of living, have you noticed how popular it remains?
7. Duct tape is like the force, it has a light side and a dark side and it holds the universe together.
8. Hard work has a future payoff. Laziness pays off now.
9. I tried sniffing Coke once, but the ice cubes got stuck in my nose
10. I used to have an open mind but my brains kept falling out.
11. I'm writing a book. I've got the page numbers done.
12. If ignorance is bliss, you must be orgasmic.
13. Shin: a device for finding furniture in the dark.

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Monday, May 28, 2007

Who put the extra in extraordinary?

So, if ordinary is usual, basic, plain, etc... why is extraordinary beyond the ordinary and special? Why wouldn't extraordinary be a more ordinary than just usual ordinary? Do we get to count it as an oxymoron?

Well, needless to say, I'm home. We have collected the pooch from the country kennel. The last load of trip laundry is in the wash and I've spent the entire day practicing my couch potato skills.

I love my family. I really do. But the chaos and drama that surround them is simply exhausting.

We did happen to see on the atlas a small town in Missouri named "knob lick". My husband really wanted to stop by on our way home...

Ah, my daughter just pulled another tooth. That's the third one she's pulled in the last 10 days. That's my cue. See you all tomorrow!


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Out to Lunch

I've had to return my work computer and am taking a few unemployed days to finish up the spring cleaning I've put off. Then, we are going on a car ride to Springfield, Missouri. We've got some family to visit. Take care and see you soon! I'll be back around Memorial Day!
Monday, May 14, 2007

Haiku Happiness

Poetry Train Monday Presents:

Comments left excite
Fame in the void surges need
Cravings build the blog

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Friday, May 11, 2007

May your weekend move along swimmingly.

The other day I found myself using swimmingly and thought that it might be a less known adverb. Then, ERiCa used it in one of her blog posts recently. Then, my daughter asked me what "swimmingly" meant. Apparently, it's said on Flushed Away. All of this in the last week or so. I know what it means, but it did get me thinking... where the heck did that word come from. I mean, "swimmingly" , it's an odd word to use as adverb - don't you think?

So, I did a little bit of investigation. I say little bit... because, well, it's Friday and I've been known to get easily distracted on a Friday afternoon. Without further delay, here is what I now know about the mysterious word.

Swimmingly: Great ease, progress, without difficulty or effort.

We can see that it uses swim. I figured that swim came before swimmingly. Yes, I have mad powers of deduction. Swim seems to come from the Middle English swimmen or Old English swimman (akin to Old High German). The dating that I could find places it before the 12th century.

Then I tried to see if I could find out when "swimmingly" may have entered our vocabulary. The only dating I could find mentioned the 1600's.

I found some references to it in classic literature.

Thanks to this inspiration, he got on swimmingly for a time, but gradually the work lost its charm, and he forgot to compose, while he sat musing, pen in hand, or roamed about the gay city to get some new ideas and refresh his mind, which seemed to be in a somewhat unsettled state that winter.
Little Women by Alcott, Louisa May

She had a turn for narrative, I for analysis; she liked to inform, I to question; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual intercourse.
Jane Eyre by Bronte, Charlotte

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Fiction Friday: In which our heroine receives some exciting news.

This Week’s Theme: Use the word Penguin to refer to something other than the animal.

Part One (The Beginning) (click to read the beginning of this story)

Part Two: In which our heroine receives some exciting news.

“Mom, oh my god, mom!” Susan couldn’t contain her excitement as she gripped the phone.

“Honey, what is it? Is it, John?”

“No! My agent just called. Penguin has made an offer. YES! My book is gonna get published!” Susan ended with a yell.

“Sue, oh how exciting. That’s wonderful news. Now I can tell all the red hats that my little girl is a real writer.”

“Mom, I’ve always been a writer.” The lights flickered and Susan glanced out the window. The trees in the front yard bent with the wind, their leaves spinning away wildly. Her mother’s voice continued with praise through the phone.

“Susan, are you listening to me?”

“Yeah, mom, but the weather is turning crazy. We might get disconnected. Looks like a massive thunderstorm is hitting town.”

“Ok, I’ll let you go. Where’s your brother?”

“I’m not sure. I imagine he’s out with a friend or up at Carl’s.”

Her eyes rolled at the long sigh from her mother. “Susan, John shouldn’t be hanging around up at that place. It’s not good for him.”

“I know that. But he’s a grown man, mother.”

“You should check on him, you know how I worry about him.”

“I know. If I talk to him, I’ll have him call you. Listen mom, I think I need –
With a click the lights fluttered and went dead. The phone lay silent in her hand.

“Perfect.” She said to the empty room. She hung up the phone and then spun in a circle, “I’m going to be published! I’m going to be published!” She continued to chant while she dug in her junk drawer for the flashlight.

She tried using her cell phone but received the all lines are busy message. She grabbed her poncho and headed to the garage.

“You know, Susan, the news would say not to go out in this weather right now. But here you are, going out.” Talking to herself eased her nerves. She had better things to do than look for her wayward brother, but if she didn’t run over to his apartment to check on him, the guilt would be sure to find her. She sighed. She didn’t want to have to tell her mother she hadn't checked on him. If she didn’t she’d have to listen to another lecture from her mother.

The car started and Susan couldn’t shake the ominous feeling that settled around her shoulders.

get the Fiction Friday codeabout Fiction Friday


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Celebrating Mother's Day

My edition #21
I've got a mom. You've got or had a mom and this weekend is the day we celebrate that momness! So let's look at some Momness stuff!
1. 82.5 million Estimated number of mothers of all ages in the United States.
2. 35,000 Number of births in 2002 attended by physicians, midwives or others that do not occur in hospitals.
3. Labor... wooo isn't it fun? On average there is half a centimeter an hour of cervical dilation. Nearly twice as long as the Friedman Curve. Source
4. August is the most popular month to have a baby, with 359,000 births taking place that month in 2002. July, with 358,000, was just a shade behind. Or should we just say that November/December/January are um.... months preferred for fun and games? Really, what are you supposed to do when it's freezing outside?
5. Old Wives Tale: Do you have acne? Some believe that getting acne during your pregnancy indicates you're carrying a girl. Maybe the acne is caused by twice the amount of female hormones?
6. "If you've never been hated by your child, you've never been a parent." -- Bette Davis
7. Ancient Greeks celebrated a holiday in honor of Rhea, the mother of the gods.
8. "Salary.com determined that a stay-at-home mother might be paid as much as $134,121 for her contributions as a housekeeper, cook, day care center teacher, janitor and CEO." - Source
9. A saying that my mother used to always say, and pretty much drive me crazy when she did, "Well, life is full of pit holes and this is just one of them."
10. A silly saying that my grandmother had, "Have you ever seen an elephant with red eyes in a cherry orchard?" And when you would sigh and say no... she'd say, "well, see how well they hide."
11. A favorite memory I have of my mother. She hates the smurfs. She always has. I remember several mornings I would see the smurfs on TV. I'd turn up the volume really loud and then sit by the couch and giggle. She'd coming storming out of bed to turn off the tv. Yeah, she'd yell at me... but it was so funny. Well, one morning I woke her up with the La La La's and then went on my merry way to school. I came home from school to find a piece of cardboard on the table. There were tiny holes in it and where there was a hole there was metallic blue paint splatter. On the table were tiny pieces of blue and white plastic. My mother had taken my smurf pez dispenser, wired it to the piece of cardboard, taken a bb gun and then shot it to pieces....
12. "Of all the rights of women, the greatest is to be a mother." -- Lin Yutang
13. There are moments when I think that I'm not a good mother... I think we all have them. I know my mother had them. Mothering is not easy, and it's not always fun - but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world. I love my mom, very much. I can appreciate her now, in ways I never could as a child. I wish you a very happy mother's day.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Too Hero or Not Too Hero?

In December's Geekfest post from yesterday, she brings up a nice little discussion on the fallibility of heros and heroines. It's certainly not a new discussion, but it did get me thinking. Whether in a movie or in a book, a strong character can make or break the success. We've even heard it said that a story is only as good as your antagonist is bad.

Does that bad = to ultimate evil? In goodness or badness, characters must connect with the entertainee. I'm a fan of Heroes (the tv series). They've got an excellent villain in Sylar. A slightly twisted hero who believes other heros are broken and he is the only one who can fix them. Last night we got a glimmer of his humanity. He went to see his mom. He was questioning his future. The thought of just being "normal" was driving him. Did that weaken him as a character? No, it only made him more fascinating as a character to watch develop.

I have seen many first time writers (yes, even my own work *sigh*) write heroes that are too good and perfect and villains that are too evil and sadistic. Perfection is boring. I'm not perfect. My husband isn't perfect. He stinks from time-to-time and doesn't do the dishes nearly enough in my mind. My mother isn't perfect, though she is a perfectionist. My father isn't perfect. He definitely has anger management issues. My children certainly aren't - so if all the people I love the most aren't perfect, why would I be interested in a pretend character who is?

Some of my favorite books are my favorites because of the characters within those pages. Same thing with television and movies. I love Dr. House. His character is twisted and loveable at the same time. Pendergast from the Preston and Child books is one of my absolute favorite characters, though, for a while, he did ride a tad close to being too perfect. There is a Julie Garwood book that I love because her heroine is just so loveable, but she has a bad habit of forgetting anything she is holding and picking up items that don't belong to her.

When you are reading and you have finished - what remains with you? The characters or the plot? I'm sure we have ones that fall into either or, and many that fall into both. Writers who understand the fundamental basics of personality and have a grasp of psychology tend to develop stronger characters. What is motivating this person? This person hates split pea soup, why? How does that dislike shape future decisions?

I enjoy characters who are real. Characters who have beliefs that I disagree with or who make decisions out of reaction instead of careful plot manipulation. What is probably my biggest pet peeve in character development is when communication is tailored specifically to achieve a plot goal, instead of communicating in the way that real people do. I often see this in some of the weaker romance novels, where the writer doesn't have too much external conflict and it seems the only internal conflict she (or he) can really find is miscommunication or no communication at all... Yes, miscommunication happens, so does hiding from an emotion... but there is a fine line between "yeah, she's scared of rejection" and "Oh come on already, you are acting like a moron and I'm going to throw this against the wall."

One thing we writers should know, is how personalities work. I do believe that writers are as close to psychologists as someone can get, without actually being a psychologist. (at least the good ones anyway)

I have a book on characterization and I wanted to share an excerpt:

There is no one more expert about the psychology of personality than you. The ordinary clinician opens his bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association, and names your problem according to the symptoms you report. If you report that you've been feeling blue for a certain number of days, have had trouble sleeping, and experience little or no pleasure from life, a clinician runs his finger down the page, looks up, and says it's major depression. A writer does something very different.

A writer gets inside his sleepless, blue character and discovers that she is blue because she has contrived a loveless marriage that made sense from one point of view, the security angle, but was a horrible mistake from the purely human angle, since her husband is a cipher. A clinician says it's major depression. A writer says, "Hmm. Given the inner conflict, given that she really does love her walk-in closet but hates her husband, what is she going to do? What if I bring in, not a handsome stranger, but someone she'd never look at twice under ordinary circumstances but who, by virtue of the fact that she is so conflicted, begins to attract her in an obsessional way? Wouldn't that be interesting?"

- What would your character do? Eric Maisel & Ann Maisel

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Monday, May 07, 2007

An Ode to a Job

Poetry Train Monday presents:

This job, it does sucketh.
I can take it, no moreth.

There once was a gal named Jane.
Who thought she could handle the insane.
Troubled, our lovely lady,
For it was just too shady.
So she cried, "It's time to go back to mundane."

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

PSA: Fantasy title that might be worth a read.

I stumbled across an author I'm unfamiliar with today, Daniel Arenson. I love a good fantasy and if it's by a new author, all the better. The title, Firefly Island, caught my eye. I wasn't too keen on the cover, I think it's a tad cheesy, but I never judge a book by it's cover.

I read the brief blurb:

A cruel king, his flesh made of stone, tyrannizes the enchanted Firefly Island. No sword or arrow can harm him. Aeolia, a servant girl, can magically share feelings and senses... even pain. Only she, by hurting herself, can hurt the mad monarch. But can she save the island from his grasp?
Ok, my first thought was, "her name sounds way too much like areola to me." I admit to wondering if it was YA at first. Even though the blurb didn't give me the WOW factor, I was still interested so I popped over to his site and read the prologue and first chapter. Two immediate things put my reader radar up, first, every time I read the girl's name I couldn't help but think "nipple". Second, the behavior of the ten year old brother struck me as unbelievable, but sometimes that happens when you don't know the character. Even though these two points stuck out a little, they are both items I can put aside. As I develop a link with the character, I will stop thinking of her as something from anatomy class and think of her as a person. Once I get to see the brother's character, his behavior in the prologue will fall into place for me as a reader.
So far, the writing is fairly tight. The premise is definitely interesting and I like the glimpses into this new world. The book is released in hardcover in August. I have added it to my "to be read" pile because I'm interested enough in the story and the first two chapters hooked me enough that now I must satisfy my curiosity.

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Charming the Prince by Teresa Medeiros

I don't know about you, but I'm a book hog. The books I love, and even some I didn't, I just have to keep. I'll buy a second one to give away before I'll part with a favorite. One of these days perhaps I'll count the number of paperbacks I have, but not today. On Friday I grabbed a book off my shelf and read a book I've read before. There is something about rereading a book you enjoy that is comforting.

Charming the Prince is an older title. It was published by Bantam in 1999. It's a fun historical romance. The hero, Lord Banner the Bold, is naturally strong, passionate, and in this case, particularly kind. He has nine children and no idea how to raise them. Enter Willow, the lovely daughter of a nobleman. Her history has a strong Cinderella backdrop. She was the sole daughter until her father remarried. The new mother had several children and Willow was shoved aside and made to care for them. She is tired of children and isn't particularly fond of them, however, through some brief observation Banner's vassal decides Willow would be perfect as the new mother for Banner's troop of children.

It's not an overly complex plot line. There isn't much for intrique or mystery. The characters are fun and entertaining. The relationship is built quickly and strongly (as is often the case in these historical romance titles). It's one that I enjoyed reading the first time and I enjoy reading it periodically when I'm in the mood for a relaxing and pleasant story. Teresa Medeiros is an author I tend to look for when I am browsing through the romance section. I like her writing style.

What about you? Have you read work by Teresa Medeiros?

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

Fear is Fear is Fear

"let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts" - FDR's First Inaugural Address

I woke this morning with the anticipation of a day for writing. It has been months since I have worked on my WIP. I spent some time with the children, watched some cartoons with them and squeezed in some Lava Girl and Shark Boy action. I then sat down at my computer. Did I pull out my ms and refresh my memory? No, I checked email. Did I then jump into my saved files of research? No, I went to bloglines to check my feeds. Did I then pull out my posterboards with my timeline and character notes? No, I spent an hour reading through posts on Backspace.

I don't need to be a psychologist to recognize delay tactics. I think we writers are particularly gifted with finding creative ways to hide. And, that is precisely what I was doing. I was hiding. Why you ask? I'll tell you why. I'm afraid - afraid of myself. Afraid that what I think is creative, entertaining, and a fantastic plot line is actually weak and unworthy of continuation. Well, acknowledgement is the only true way to combat fear. I read my previous 50 pages, pulled out my posterboard and forced myself to get back into the groove. After 20 minutes the "force myself" attitude was gone. I was suddenly there, in the middle of the rainforest, listening to the sounds of the monkeys, birds and chittering insects. Unexpectedly, a new character decided to join the team. His name is Puchito, a Ka'apor Capuchin. He looks very similar to this, another Capuchin. He's a naughty little monkey, but I think he has a very important role to play.

I spent some time reviewing some pharmaceutical research I'm keeping tabs on... and updated some files on endangered species, I needed to make sure I had the right information as I describe them in my story. 1,200 nice clean fresh words, incorporating two new characters and providing some scientific information that will tie directly to the core plot later in the story. It's tough to write smart stuff sometimes.

I took a break and played some princess monopoly with the Pea Pie. I also walked my heir apparent through the directions of baking a lemon poppy seed bunt cake. While it was baking she said she would like to play in the front yard.

Ten minutes later when the buzzer went off I ventured outside to get her. Lo and behold, she was nowhere to be found. She did not respond to my yells. She was not at the neighbor's. She was not at her friend's house (three houses down the cul de sac from ours). As the panic was rising and I was preparing myself to call my husband (who is working) and the police. I hear her voice carried to me on the wind. I race to the end of the block and see her flying into a different neighbor's driveway. She had decided to grab her scooter and go on a ride with the neighbor boy.

First, I never let my children leave the cul de sac unless they have my permission - which they know. They can't even go inside the neighbor's house without permission. Second, my body was shaking from fear and relief. Not a good combination for me. I marched her inside where I called her father.

As I now sit here while she sits in her room, I realize. I experienced two completely different kinds of fear today. Both of them internal and yet completely different in nature. Both of them powerful. The fear of harm coming to my child is the most primal and overpowering fear I have ever experienced. Even if you only experience it for a moment. That moment feels endless. The other fear is tied intimately with my internal self, a portion of my soul, one might say.

Fear is Fear is Fear.

I don't know about you, but it's a freckle past a hair at my house and that means it's beer time.

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Fiction Friday: The beginning

Fiction Friday
Edition #1
Rashenbo's Edition #1

Write Stuff prompted Fiction Friday today and I thought it would be fun to participate. Anything to get the creativity going and the brain all warm and energized is a good thing, right? I don't know what this story is yet. I don't even know the characters. I just met them this morning. I think it will be interesting to see what kind of people they turn out to be. If you decide to participate in the Fiction Friday, be sure to let me know with a linky link so I can stop by and read it!

Title: Untitled
Writing Time: 40 Minutes
Words to use: Climate, Guide, Flag

“The weather is nucking futs!” John said as he battled with the door. Fierce winds tugged at it; with a slam he pulled it tight and slid the bolt.

“Hey, man! What you locking the door for? I’m still open.” The man behind the counter said.

“What kind of nut would be out in this weather, Carl? Nobody is coming here today.”

“Well, you’re here ain’t ya.” Carl said. His height, slender build and bug-eyed glasses seemed more appropriate for a lab rather than a dingy bar. John could never shake the picture of Carl in a white coat.

“Give me a Guinness and shut up.” John slipped off his coat and tossed it on a bar stool.

“It’s that global warming. It’s changing our climate. The government, they are keeping it quiet… but, we’re all gonna die.”

John nodded his head and turned toward the hoarse voice, “Evening, Marty. Does Lucy know you are out tonight?”

Carl brought a tall frosted mug and a can that gave a metallic clink when he set it down. “Lucy dropped him off here. She got called in for some accident. She was worried about him being home alone in the storm.”

Footsteps shuffled against the concrete floor. A whiff of beer, tobacco, and sickness drifted to John. Marty’s gnarled hand shook against the counter as he climbed onto the stool next to him.

“That girl. She done right by me. She’s a good girl, just like her mother.” Marty sniffed.

“She is a good girl.” John said. Lucy was old enough to be his mother, but Marty always called his granddaughter a girl.

The wind kicked up again and John heard a rhythmic pounding. “Wow, the power lines are probably gonna get knocked over.” He said.

“That’s not the wind, dumbass. That’s the door. You locked out a customer.” Carl hurried over and unlocked the door. Immediately two people stumbled in and the wind tore the door from his grasp. Carl struggled against the wind to close it. When John heard the click of the bolt he smiled.

“What can I get for you?” Carl asked.

“We need someone to guide us to Flag Point.”

John looked at the couple over the rim of his mug. They wore long dark coats. He could see glints from the man’s wrist, fancy cuff links. The suit the lady wore was probably worth more than what he made in a month.

“Nothing up on Flag Point.” He said. “No reason to go right now.”

She stared at him. “Regardless, we need to get there. Can one of you take us?”

“Lady, it’s not safe. The storm is wind and rain now, but there is going to be hail and lightning. You aren’t going to want to be out in it.” Carl said with a smile that didn’t look all that pleasant.

“They need to get to the lab.” Marty spoke up.

“Shoosh, Marty.” John said.

“No, they want to go to the secret lab up there.”

“Marty, you know there’s no lab there. Carl even took you up there, remember?” John said.

“It’s hidden.” Marty said with a petulant tone.

“Sorry about him. He’s always got these crazy ideas.” John said. The couple had been quiet during the exchange.

“I think the three of you will need to come with us.” The lady said.

“I don’t think so.” John said.

“No, really, I insist.” Her hand moved quickly into her coat and came out with a gun.

A flash of lightning pulsed through the room. They heard a sizzle. Then darkness descended.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

13 Grammar Rules Used by Moi

Rashenbo's Edition #20
Ok, I admit to being busy and not thinking about this list as much as I thought about last week's list! So, I've snatched some of the "rules" or guidelines from some of my writing books.
1. If you can drop the clause and not lose the point of the sentence, use which. If you can't, use that. A which clause goes inside commas. A that clause doesn't.
2. If I... Add if and "I was taller" becomes "If I were taller." Hello subjunctive mood.
3. "Some writers and editors believe that if that can logically follow a verb, it should be there. Others believe that if that can logically be omitted, it should be taken out. If you like it, use it. If you don't, don't."
4. If you use while in place of although, be sure there's no chance it could be misunderstood to mean "during the time that."
5. Hyphenate most compoun adjectives that appear before a noun.
6. Most compound adverbs are spelled as two words.
7. Good is always an adjective: good bread; good vibrations; dinner was good. Don't use good as an adverb. Use well, an adverb meaning to perform capably.
8. Appositives are words that restate or identify a noun or pronoun. When appositives, are nonrestrictive, they are enclosed in commas.
9. The correct forms of the verb wake are wake, woke, and have waked. Past tense of related verbs, waken and awaken are have wakened or have awakened.
10. Who does something (it's a subject, like he), and whom has something done to it (it's an object, like him).
11. Myself and the rest of the self-ish crew (yourself, himself, herself, etc) shouldn't take the place of the ordinary pronouns I and me, she and her, and so on. They are used for only two purposes. 1. To emphasize. I made the cake myself. 2. To refer to the subject. The problem practically solved itself.
12. Dangling modifiers are similar to misplaced modifiers except that the modifier isn't just separated from the word it modifies; it is missing the word it modifies. The writer has the term being modified in mind - but not on paper.
13. Many wordy expressions make use of there is, there are, or it is. These constructions can often be eliminated. Example: There is a famous author who lives on my block. Vs. A famous author lives on my block.

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