Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Non-Linear writing... and it's possible effects

I write linearly. That's just how I think. Very rarely will I skip ahead, but even then it's only a scene that I'm not sure how to write even though I'm pretty sure what will be revealed in it.

But I'm reading a book right now by a popular crime writer and I just keep getting the feeling that this author either doesn't write linearly and/ or didn't reread the work carefully. There are at least three scenes in less than five chapters were characters have similarly worded conversations. As if the author forgot that these characters already discussed these things. Okay, I can let that go-- in real life, people do say the same things more than once.

But then there's two sets of scenes that just seem out of sequence. In an early chapter, a peripheral character is introduced only in the barest way. No name, just what she has done for a major character. Then, a couple chapters later, this character has a scene in which it's explained what she does. I *really* think the second scene would be better coming first.

Partly, my preference is to have the explanation soon, especially if it's just something that occurs a couple times in the book. (In the book I'm reading, the peripheral character appears twice, and never even on page, just in reference.) If you're going to expalin who someone is, then do so the first time. NOt only that, in the book I'm reading, the second scene really seems like a nice get-to-know-the-characters scene.

There are several other examples, where the book just feels like chapters and scenes were moved around. It's not horrible, but it does feel like something's a little off with the book.

And maybe I wouldn't notice it so much if I didn't use this particular book in class, where I read it several times and even twice in a day.

I know, as a writer, I've forgotten things. Forgotten that I've alreayd used that opening or scene somewhere. Usually, though, if it feels a little familiar, I go and check.

Maybe the author of the book I'm reading did read it through. Maybe he was fine with the slightly disjointed effect. Maybe he liked the repeated scenes, since they were a little different. I don't know. Of course, the author the book I'm reading has had more books published than I have years of life... while I have some 50 short stories and an unpublished novel.

All I know is that as a reader (and re-reader) it bothers me just a bit.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

My Bad

When this phrase first entered the language, it made me cringe. But, interestingly enough, I no longer cringe. In fact, now that I'm desensitized enough to it's utterance, I've been able to mull it over.

And, I think I kinda like it.

No, really, hear me out. The alternatives would be "my mistake," or "my error." Both are not only longer in syllables, but they are also more complicated in pronunciation. My bad is short, sweet, and easy to say.

My bad also accepts some degree of responsibility for an unfortunate situation. This is something that is so desperately lacking in much of our society. With responsibility taken, even if it's not specific what was done badly, some sort of apology is either implied or can easily be added.

I can accept the fluidity of language. While bad has long been an adjective, I can see it's use as a noun. "Bad" as is something bad, a mistake, a misjudgment, an error.

Like party moving from the land of verbs into the land of nouns.

So, I will readily admit that my initial reaction was misguided. I have revised my position on this slang phrase. I accept it and welcome it. And with it, hopefully, more people willing to accept their own role in things that go wrong.

As for "task" being used as a verb, I will likely go to my grave loathing this particular gem of corporate-speak.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Name's Marlowe

But not Phillip Marlowe. Just Marlowe.

For my birthday, (March 26th), I got a cat. He's not very happy right now.

I don't think he was very impressed with the car ride. And then strange people and places. So, I have a cat... who doesn't want anything to do with anyone at the moment. =P

It has been nine long, long years since I had a cat in my home. When I moved out, my parents still had several cats.

When I was in high school, my lovely cat had kittens. Twice. For a spell there, we had nine cats roaming in and out of the house. I loved it. I'm not so sure my parents did. (Though, I maintain my dad is a closet cat lover. When he thought no one was looking... you might find him with cat on his lap.)

Then, I moved into an apartment. With a deposit and additional fees for cats. So, no cats for us. Later we moved to a rented condo. Landlady said no cats. Fine.

But, now, I have a house. It's my house. Not only can I put all the nail holes in the wall that I want, I can also have a cat.

I have named him Marlowe after one of my favorite characters. So far Marlowe the cat is acting like Marlowe the PI... after a head injury. A little disoriented and not sure what hell's going on. While bourbon often helped Marlowe the PI, I don't think it's good for cats. I'll try some tuna.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Wordless Wednesday: No Gate Can Stop Trespasses of the Mind

Saw this someplace, thought I'd give it a try, with my own writerly spin.

What's past that gate?
(I'll come back and post my response in the comments later.)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Maybe you don't know it, but you're fascinating. I am intrigued by you. I don't even have to know you... but I see you. Maybe you're my neighbor. Or a person at the grocery store. You say or do something that catches my interest.

I want to know more about you. But between being shy and loathing when others intrude into my life (yes, I'm aware of the irony) I stay quiet.

But I'm studying you.

In my mind I'm coming up with questions about you. Why are you wearing a 4-20 shirt at a Pokemon trading card tournament? Who are you calling vile names on your phone in the greeting card aisle? What's this trip you're talking about with your less-than-interested-looking companion?

I start answering the questions. Maybe I go beyond that. Maybe I've given you some backstory. And maybe the interaction I've witnessed has sparked another idea. What if that oft-repeated threat of yours, short-blond-haired girl with the purse bigger than your head, what if you followed through on that? Who were you threatening? How did you pull it off? Sorry, but now you're a character. And I'll be writing something about you.

I'd still like to know what's really going on. Insatiable curiosity, you see. But, since I don't have that, I'll make something up. It's probably more interesting anyway. And besides, if I make it up, then I don't have to listen to you talk about stupid choices and other things that make my eyes roll. You'd probably irritate me if I knew you. So this works better, for the both of us.

The more tidbits I get on people's thinkings and mannerisms and habits, the more fodder it is for my writing. The more questions I can come up with new answers for. See, sometimes it's hard to get away from the way I think of things and to get into another person's head. If you give me something new and curious, yours just might be the head I get into.

Don't worry, I don't judge. I just collect. It's all so fascinating.

(Image from Wikimedia Commons)

Monday, March 23, 2009

My Town Monday: Grand River comes back

The US Highways System had uspurped Grand River, putting up US-16 signs along the route from Detroit across the state through Lansing and onwards to the shore of Lake Michigan.

But the US Highways System was really just a series of roads. They weren't any better than the old roads were... they *were* the old roads. With new signs. Put me in a new shirt and I'm not less bitter and cynical.

After World War 2, we see the introduction of the Interstate Highway Act. Now this is a horse of a different color. Interstates would primilary be constructed as limited access highways. These are the expressways or freeways (or just highways) as we know them today. With on ramps, off ramps, and fairly un-impeded traffic from point A to point B.

One of the first limited access highways constructed in Michigan was along the route of Grand River. This stretch of road was named the Brighton-Farmington Expressway. At first, this was just a one-lane by-pass going east to Farmington.

Slowly (I mean, we are talking about M-DOT here!) the Brighton-Farmington Expressway was expanded. It was taken downtown into Detroit. Then extended the other direction to Lansing. Then onwards to Grand Rapis.

Somewhere along the way, as the Brighton-Farmington Expressway was built, it got it's new designation. It became I-96. (I-96 is the only intrastate interstate. It does not exist outside Michigan. Like Faygo and Better Made chips, it's purely a Michigan thing.) With the construction of I-96, the old US-16 designation was retired.

Grand River Avenue got it's name back. I-96 didn't follow the exact route of US-16/ Grand River. While Grand River went through the center of town-- and still does-- I-96 was routed around the towns. It cuts across the farthest edge of Brighton at the time, and even now the city limit is just before the expressway. Development has continued on the other side of the experssway, but it's not the same. It then continues on and passes south of Howell.

I-96, like all Interstates going in, had a nasty habit of cutting through roads that were already in place. Some of those roads got bridges. Others got dead ends. Today, there are still some roads in Livingston County that are clearly bi-sected by the expressway, with Road Ends signs on either side of the 6-lane interstate.

(You can see in this pic I poached from Google Maps that the two roads would be connected if not for I-96)

With the completion of I-96, linking Metro Detroit to the soon-to-be suburbs, there was another population boom in Livngston County. Many of the major subdivisions surrounding both Howell and Brighton were constructed during the 1970s and in the start of the 1980s. It's all them Baby Boomers having their kids and moving out of the city. With the Interstates in place, people could live farther from work.

And Grand River Ave reverted to local control, regaining it's name Grand River. From what I can tell, it may be at this point that Grand River gets the Avenue distinction. Something to do with being the fifth Avenue (along with Woodward, Gratiot, etc in Detroit.) But why Grand River was ever called "Road" out here in the sticks, I may never know. That's the sort of thing that doesn't make into history books. Especially when history books are sparse as they are in a place like Livingston County.

My Town Monday is sponsored by Travis Erwin. Or something like that.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


This is rather unusual for me: I'm currently working on three separate short stories. I started with one, got stalled, got a great idea for a new story and went to write that one. Usually I'm pretty disciplined about finishing what I started, but this was a REALLY GOOD IDEA! So I chugged a couple thousand words into it... then stalled. [Expletive deleted.]

So, I tried going back to the first story, but was still stuck. I poked it a little, but it remains comatose. I'm not ready to pull the plug on it, but it's not looking to healthy at the moment.

Then, another idea came along that seemed like a real short idea. Just maybe a 2-3k story. So... yeah, I started that one. And got into it. Didn't quite stall, but it's gotten slow. A few dozen words at a time. But then I switched back to WIP #2 and chugged along quite nicely. Yea!

In each story, I ran into trouble at the same place. I set up the conflict, then couldn't figure out how to resolve it. [Several expletives deleted.] This is a continually problem for me. I mop myself into the corner. No, really, I do that with a real mop, too, but I blame the odd configuration of my kitchen/dining/foyer/ laundry room. It's either mop myself into the corner of the laundry room or find some place else to dump the mop bucket.

Anyway, back to writing. Working on several stories at once has been interesting. Most surprising is that my brain has done fairly well at jumping back and forth. Like a successful adulterer, I keep to the story currently being told. I don't know if this will be a new trend or not. In some ways, I'd like it to continue. That way, when I ever get back to Novel #2, I would be able to continue writing short stories, keeping my name out there, keep in the practice of writing shorts, that sort of thing.

Are you a monogamous writer or a polygamous one? I used to be serial monogamist, but this cheating's working out. I'm a playa*. (HA!)

Says the woman who married the first and only man she ever flirted with, let alone dated. ;-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009


The question came up the other day about what it means to act like a woman. My first reaction is that however a woman acts is acting like a woman. Then, I went and mulled it over, brushing off some of my ideas and notions on what might be considered female behavior.

There is a broad range of "female" behavior. Somethings, like having babies, are still relegated only to women. But not all women do, either by choice or by chance. This does not make them less female.

Some women carry purses, wear high heels, and defer to the men in their lives. I would rather cut off my dominant hand and beat myself with it.

Many female traits, though, are considered negative. Most people don't really want to read a book where the main character doesn't do anything even though many women prefer to take the passive role. Being assertive isn't an inherently female trait. But there have always been women who took charge of their lives. Women who were very active.

I know a lot of young women who defer to their boyfriends. And some who will get married still defering to their partner. They won't stand up for themselves. Around some of them, I get a bloody lip from biting it so much...

But most men I know think that confidence is DAMN sexy. (I suspect that part of it is a belief that confidence outside the bedroom will also mean confidence, assertiveness, and active participation in the bedroom.)

It's a fine line between being confident (good) and being assertive (not good). Assertiveness viewed negatively is just plain labeled 'aggressive.' Aggression is pretty safely negative regardless of gender.

Is there a way that "women" talk? Perhaps it's about relationships. Or with deferential phrases that show that the woman is willing to be flexible in her opinion. If she even states an opinion. Sadly, "female" speech is more likely than male speech, in my experience, to be full of soft self-degradation. Men rarely talk that way. My Hubby says that I always sound like I know what I'm talking about, even when I may not. Does this mean I talk like "a man?"

What does it mean to act like a woman? What are the best things that women do?

(Pic from wikimedia commons)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Fablous Blogs

Sandra Seamans has tagged me as a fabulous blog. Thank you, Sandra. =D

The rules are that I'm supposed to link back to the one who tagged me. Sandra has her little corner over here.

Then I'm supposed to list my Five Favorite Addictions:
1. Diet Pepsi
2. Absolute Write Water Cooler (forum where writer's congregate)
3. Bo Fexler
4. Gambling via packs of Pokemon (Trading card game) cards... it's a sickness, really...
5. Learning new stuff

Here are the rules:
You must include the person that gave you the award, and link it back to them.
You must list 5 of your Fabulous Addictions in the post. You must copy and paste these rules in the post. Right click the award icon & save to your computer then post with your own awards.

And now, for my top blog picks. I know that some of the places I'm going to list have already been mentioned, but they're still my favorites. In no particular order, they are:
1. Patti Abbott
2. Travis Erwin
3. Cliterature
4. Attack of the Redneck Mommy
5. Graveyard Shift

These people are responsible for large chunks of my time that I should have spent writing. Instead, I was reading. (When I find a new blog I like-- rare as that is!-- I'll go back and read the entire archive.)

Thanks for the entertainment and information. Even if it does cut into my writing time. I can always call it "research." Character studies or some such thing. I'll think of something.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

My Town Monday: Grand River Doesn't Know What to Call Itself

In the early 1900s, Michigan began naming it's roads, in order to reduce confusion. Since many roads may or may not have names and those names may or may not change over the course of the road, the idea to give them one name for the entire length seemed like a good idea. The naming part worked, mostly. It was the road that was a problem

(Howell's first traffic signal, 1914)

From what I can tell in my research, during the late 1910s and early 1920s, before Grand River became M-16, there were Auto Trails. These were named trails-- by anyone who was selling their maps for auto tours. These trails were marked with ribbons wrapped on telephone poles (aka utility poles). There was such a proliferation of these auto trail groups that something had to be done. So the state stepped in and gave roads a name-- one name that everyone was supposed to use.

Grand River was labeled M-16. It still ran from Detroit (the biggest Michigan city) through Livingston County an onwards to state capital, Lansing. (Little trivia-- Lansing is the ONLY state capital that is NOT a county seat. In Ingham County, the county seat is in Mason.) And, probably the more important part, the state began to put up road signs.

(Okay, I cheated. This is Grand River near Michigan State University, which is near Lansing.)

This half-hazard road-naming system kind of cleared up some confusion, except not all states took up this labeling thing. Apparently, the US government then stepped in to name roads. Or at least, the large ones that were important. Grand River was one of these. The US Highway System went into place in the 1920s. This system was set up not only to name roads, but also to improve them. There was considerable concern following World War 1 after the nations leaders realized/ learned that the road system in the US would be a great hindrance in warfare. While the roads might have existed on a map, they may not have existed or been actually usable in real life.

During the twenties, sections of Grand River are paved. In Howell, this was done in brick. Several of the side roads were also paved with bricks. While Grand River has been redone in the more modern, but less cool looking brick, there are still a couple streets that are paved in brick. One of those, interestingly enough is Walnut Street, north of Grand River. A little road that leads back to the historic Ann Arbor (Tuscola Saginaw Bay) railroad station and museum. I don't think that's an accident.

(Paving Howell)

So, Grand River is paved. And it gets designated US-16. This US highway continues on into Wisconsin and onwards to South Dakota and Wyoming, with a little ferry trip across Lake Michigan.

There is no M-16. It is forever gone from the state. There's still an M-36 and M-59 and others, but M-16 has been relegated to history.

And some years later, US-16 disappeared from Michigan as well. (There's still a segment of this expressway out west.)

The US-Highway system helped to improve roads, but these were not "highways" as we know them today. These were largely just two lane-- maybe up to five lane-- roads. It was the Interstate highway Act that took away the US-16 designation, and gave Grand River Avenue back to Livingston County.

(Two things that I found out AFTER posting last weeks entry on Grand River Trail as a plank road. Recently, when major road work was being done on Grand River near Lansing, they found rotting planks buried deep into the road bed. These planks were some 150 years old! And speaking of the planks, Mark Twain is reported to have remarked on the plank roads in Michigan during a visit. When asked how is trip was, he allegedly said, It would have been good if some unconscionable scoundrel had not now and then dropped a plank across it.")

Come back next week how Grand River got it's groove, um, I mean, name back.)

Travis Erwin is having fun with his new house, but you can still get your My Town Monday links by visiting Jenn Jilks.

What I Learned from the Writer I Used to Be Part 3

Ah, college. I enjoyed college a whole lot. Especially after the intellectually vacant years of high school-- all two and a half of them. (I left high school halfway through my Junior year, got my GED and the following fall began as a college freshman rather than being a high school senior. A hard decision, but it was worth it.)

My writing time took a serious hit as I was working full time and attending college full time (about 12 credits, four classes per semester.) I still dabbled in writing, working on a historical fiction piece, then moving on to the "first" Bo Fexler novel.

In the beginning, Bo was cool, aloof, and completely unrealistic. Slowly, I began my research into the private eye field. I accumulated most of the then-current Writer's Digest Howdunnit Books. And as the internet became more filled with useful information, I began to research heavily on line. Google is my friend.

I polished 'Missing Link' and attempted to query it without success. I also worked with a professor on the story. This was useful, to have a discerning reader and English professor to help me. She really liked Bo's point of view, which only showed up sporadically because the book was written in third person.

Then, I started to dabble in two new things-- short stories and first person (snarky) narratives. I learned that I do have a particular voice that's not quite the same as everyone else's. That I can use my bitter cynicism for more than just rants to Hubby.

And most importantly, I learned that I *could* write short stories. Previously, in all my long-winded writings, I had been convinced that I could never write short stories. I had just too much to tell. Well, clearly, I was very wrong.

This is one of the few times that not only will I admit I was wrong, but I'm glad of it. I can write short stories. Sometimes, I can do them damn well.

Writing short stories, where so much is implied or left out, made me a better novel writer. No more infodumps and backstory. I learned how to weave the important details in, and to leave the reader demanding to know more about what I don't say.

Now, if I can just get Bo's first novel "Sex and Violence" into the right hands, then everyone will get to see what I can do.

Is there a defining moment in your growth as writer-- that made you the writer you are today?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

What I Learned from the Writer I Used to Be, Part 2

I went to a very average high school in a mostly rural area. It was a school that didn't seem to understand that it was no longer 1972 and they were no longer a small school in a small town. Suburbia had moved in and the class of 2000 was a big one. (I was part of the oft-overlooked class of 1999. We also felt gypped because we were NOT the special class of 2000.)

Why dies this matter-- it's how I explain my BOREDOM in school. I was bored stiff in my classes and since I wasn't allowed to work on homework from, say math, in English class, I put a couple sheets of paper on my desk and wrote. Looks like I'm taking notes... or something. No teachers hassled me-- not even the one that threatened to take away the book I was reading.

It was in high school that I started writing seriously. Well, "seriously." As a mere fourteen and fifteen year old, I was very serious about being a writer. But I had a long way to go to even possibly being a published writer.

The first thing I had to learn was that one does not just publish Star Wars (fan) fiction. Usually tie-in writers are already established. But in the mean time, I had written five 60-70k word novels. During class, mainly.

One of the big things I learned when I finally moved on from Star Wars fan fic was that, while it's okay to love your protagonist, it's not okay to make them all-wonderful, all-adored and have all the characters gushing over the protagonist. Heh. Yeah...

I also learned that climaxes are hard to write. Later I would learn that I had never fully understood what a climax was! Ooooohhh... that makes a difference. No teacher had been able to explain it well enough for me to understand. Ironically, it was when I was student teaching that I realized I had better understand what I was trying to teach. That was when I studied like hell and finally found a definition of climax that clicked in my peculiar little brain.

I never understood climax being the "high" point of the story. (The page looks the same height as the rest of the book...) But it makes sense to me that the climax is the turning point.

It's kind of like the day that I finally made sense of the phrase "Shooting fish in a barrel. I knew it was synonymous with easy. Then I realized... I bet those fish aren't *swimming* they're packed in like folks would do on a boat or dock back in the day. That'd make it pretty damn hard to miss shooting the fish...

I was still in high school when I began the first Bo Fexler story. She was sidelined for a while while I worked on a piece of historical fiction. But she came back even more bad assed.

She started with the idea: How might a woman turn out if she was saddled with the (very masculine) name Bo? And what sort of parents would name their daughter Bo? I decided she'd be a bit bitter. But memorable. Her last name has an X in it because I was sixteen and X's are cool, if infrequently used, letters.

(One of the rare notebooks with collage cover I made.)

The Bo Fexler of today is a very different character than she was when I started writing her in high school. Of course, I'm also a much different character than I was when I was first writing Bo Fexler.

What's your favorite high school memory? (This is mine!) Or when did you start writing for publication versus just for fun?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

What I Learned from the Writer I Used to Be, Part 1

I started writing stories when I was seven. I was home sick from school for the entire month of February and apparently took to writing.

From that, I learned to be a pack rat. I remember writing the story, but I don't have it anymore. Somewhere along the way, it was surely pitched. Probably in one of those moments where, since I was growing up, I didn't need "childish" stuff anymore. Luckily I got over that...

Part of my pack rat tendency I blame on my less than stellar memory. The items trigger recollections that I enjoy. So I keep the items.

Slowly, I'm adjusting my storage methods. Things are starting to be scanned into the computer. Virtual storage takes up much less room than real storage.

At least I still have the books we made for English class in third grade. We spent a couple days writing and then typing up our stories. I took quite a bit longer than the rest of the class... and had to rush my drawings. (Not that it would have mattered that much because my fingers are made for typing, not drawing. I still draw about as well. ;-) After we printed our stories, we pasted them in little blank hard cover books. How fabulous.

Though, it's funny to go back and read that third grade story "Uni and Wolffy." Even then I had trouble writing myself into situations I couldn't get out of. At least now I have time to revise. Which is a later lesson I learned.

When did you start writing? How about them school writing projects?

Sunday, March 8, 2009

My Town Monday: Grand River Trail

Like many original roads in Michigan, Grand River started as an Indian Trail. This road wound it's way from Detroit through Livingston County, through Lansing, and off to Grand Rapids, crossing the state.

West of Lansing, this road follows along the Grand River. Over on my side of the state, we don't have any Grand Rivers. Or great ones (ha ha). We've got the Huron, though, and that seems to do a pretty good job flooding much of Hamburg every spring... (pic shows Grand River in blue. The red lines are similar to where the Grand River Trail/Road ran.)

In 1848, Grand River Trail became a plank road. This was one of those bad ideas that took a while to get rid of. They would lay large planks (and sometimes just large branches) across the trail to make for a "smoother" ride. Because jostling a wagon over planks is going to be smoother than bumping over ruts and rocks. All that and you had to pay a toll to use the plank road.

Though, I'm thinking laying some planks might make Grand River Ave a little easier to drive along. Years of being barely maintained have resulted in some seriously crumbling road surfaces. The pot holes aren't so bad, but it's the lines that run with the road, making a chasm that grabs the car tire and tries to flip you into the ditch.

The Detroit & Howell Plank Road was one stretch, owned, if I understand correctly, by one company. There was another stretch called the Howell & Lansing Plank Road. This connected the major city of Detroit to the capital of Michigan.

With the construction of the railroads through much of Michigan in the 1880s and onwards, the plank roads fell out of favor. The companies who collected the tolls eventually disappeared and returned the roads to local control. Of course, the roads were in craptacular condition when the Plank Road companies left.

Here's a gem of a quote from the Brighton BiCentennial: "By the year 1880, much of the planking had been removed and been replaced with dirt and gravel, but the toll gates remained to annoy and harrass those who were compelled to use this road." I'm guessing that most local yokel would have tried to avoid paying tolls on Grand River. But long-distance travelers had little choice. Even today, getting from east to west without using Grand River (or it's sucsessor, I-96) is a difficult, long, and winding trip.

After returning to local control, the Detroit to Howell and Howell to Lansing Plank Roads became again called Grand River. Now, though, it's the Grand River Road instead of the Grand River Trail. It wouldn't be until bicycling became popular that Grand River saw it's next improvement... and it's next name change. In the meantime, Grand River Road was a barely maintained dirt road running through the center of Livingston County.

(Pic shows Howell on top and Fowlerville on bottom in 1908, looking down Grand River.)

While cities would have maintained roads in town, outside of town, for a many years, Michigan residents were required to maintain (grade and repair) the roads their property was on. And, the early 1900s saw plenty of people who didn't see why they should have to. So, a road like Grand River would be in questionable shape as it ambled along between two important cities in Michigan.

Come back next week and see Grand River get an Amazing Makeover!

And don't forget to visit Travis Erwin for more My Town Mondays!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

I'm not a crazy. I'm a writer.

Though, it can be easy to confuse the two since both talk about, and to, people that don't exist.

Yes, I'm one of those people who talks to themselves. Only it's not me. It's Bo. And she's talking to other people... and every time such words pass my lips, I sound like a lunatic.

I like to think that part of the reason my dialogue is good is because I speak it. I take on both roles and actually speak the dialogue. I use this to make sure the lines are real.

But sometimes I talk to myself because I just enjoy the characters. I explore the things they would say to each other. Little vignettes, I guess, except they don't make it onto the page. But little scenes with Bo and her companions, or occasionally with other bit-part characters.

I often talk aloud. Sometimes I just move my lips. And I do it all the time. Empty aisles at the grocery store. While driving (when I'm not singing along to the music.) Walking to my car in the parking lot. And at home. Hubby's used to it. He pretends he doesn't notice it because if he said anything, I'd crawl under the couch cushions and wish I could die from embarrassment.

I can admit that I do these things... but I don't want anyone to see it.

Maybe I am just a little crazy.

At least I enjoy it. =D

Friday, March 6, 2009

Lay and Lie

The short story by this name is now up at Twist of Noir. This little story originally appeared at DZ Allen's MuzzleFlash.

Sex and lies. And some wordplay.

I'm glad this story got to come out into the light again. I'll be dusting off some other reprints, too.

I've been working on a couple stories lately, though none of them flash fiction. Flash fiction is a beast of a whole different type. Those ideas tend to come to me fully formed, ready to slam down on paper.

But flash fiction just hasn't been in my brain in a while. Perhaps a consequence of working so long on novels last year (finishing Novel #1 and starting Novel #2). Or maybe I'm just tapped out on flash. At least my muse has tossed me a couple other ideas. Longer ones. I thought one of them was a flash fiction idea, but so far, when I try to pour it into that size glass, it just spills all over the damn place. Either I'm writing it wrong, or it's just not flash fiction.

The story will always determine how long it's supposed to be. It's important to listen to what the story says.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Excuses, exscuses

It's fascinating to me, when amongst a group of writers, to hear the creativity at work. How many different ways can people find to excuse or explain why they can't or didn't write.

It echoes a similar trend in society as why everything is not my fault.

But writers are the most creative, I think. Unfortunate mischanneling of energy.
Can't write because Word has too many features.
Or because the computer has internet access, that's too distracting.
Can't write because I'll edit.
Or because the house is a mess, but that's not my fault either-- it's just too overwhelming.

All valid reasons. Valid excuses.

But at some point, I think, a writer has to realize that they are making excuses. It's not the internet's fault or the sun's fault for being in the wrong place in the sky or even Word's fault. It's the writer coming up with roadblocks.

The first step in overcoming a problem is identifying it.

Now that the new semester is in swing, I have far fewer excuses of my own. And I'm back to writing. Not as much as I could. And that's my own fault. It has nothing to do with the internet... that's a symptom of a very different problem. The problem is, for the most part, that I don't want to write something bad. (This is compounded when I don't like where the story is going.) But this is all on me.

I can't-- I WON'T-- blame anyone or anything else. As tempting as it may be... ;-)
Except maybe Hubby...

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hardboiled and Washed Up?

Maybe it's just been the string of hard-boiled novels I read lately, but I sure read a lot of worn out, washed up folks who seem just about ready to sit down and wait to die.

Is it the underdog thing that appeals to people? The former police/detective who pulls himself out of the bottle, wrings himself out, and goes off to redeem himself for the woman he loved-- perhaps this type of tale appeals because it's that second chance, that redemption, that coming from behind for the win scenario? Does it give people hope?

Me, I have trouble getting past the damned depressing intro with the unhappy protag who doesn't know what to do with himself (him more often than her) after screwing up royally.

Do readers not identify with someone who's successful? Or resilient? Or should I say, do hard-boiled readers just prefer the old, tired out, beaten down guy who just needs one more chance to do right. Maybe that's what being hard-boiled is about-- those mean streets kicking ass too many times?

I don't like happy fluffy books, but I'd at least like to see the characters be successful. No private eye who works all cases for charity and can't pay rent or some such thing. In my world-- the real world-- there's no such thing. If you're gonna stay in a business, you need to make enough to pay the bills. Or before long, you're not in business. (Besides, who would hire the guy who's not good enough to support himself?)

Maybe it's an age thing-- I've got most of my life ahead of me. I intend to be successful at it. And I'd like some characters I can relate to in this regard. Ones who have their focus on a successful future, not a messed up past.

But that doesn't mean I don't like me some good bitter commentary. Even from washed up, worn out former screw ups.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

My Town Monday: Walking in Brighton

Now that the weather is getting nice, one might be inclined to stroll through downtown Brighton. There's some nice shops and restaurants in this downtown area, along with the The Mill Pond, Mill Pond Walkway, and Imagination Station.

If you happen to be strolling along though, you should be aware of how we cross the street.

See, in Brighton, we make cars stop for people. This happens in Ann Arbor too-- except in Ann Arbor, psychotic pedestrians will leap in front of moving cars just to remind drivers that pedestrians have the right of way. I'm not sure if driving or walking is more dangerous in Ann Arbor...

Anyway, in Brighton, the crosswalks have been paved with brick. And to cross, you press the crosswalk button.

There are little yellow lights in the brick crosswalk and those will begin blinking. Once the lights are blinking, you walk into the road. Yup. Cars will stop. If you're the slightest bit polite like I am, you will wait until there is a space between cars. Traffic is already slow on this stretch. A few pedestrians slow things down even more. It's not a bad thing.

I think the idea is to encourage people to park and stroll through the downtown area, rather than just zipping from one errand to the next.

We'll ignore the fact that the downtown area is half empty. There's still a few shops there... I'm sure the new mall a few miles away didn't have any impact on the downtown area. After all, when you go to the new mall, you get chain stores instead of local ones. And you don't have to walk-- you can drive around the parking lot and park close to the store you want.

Or so I hear. I'm still boycotting the new mall.

But I will be heading downtown.

(Though, until it gets warmer, I'll drive there. Thanks. I don't like cold.)

Visit Travis Erwin, the My Town Monday wrangler, for other posts.