Saturday, July 31, 2010

Waiting for the Wind.

I recently joined in a discussion about current works in progress. It was just a simple question from a blog asking about what everyone was currently working on.

I posted a comment about one of my current projects. Although I hadn't finished the draft yet and should not have brought the idea out into public; foolish as I am, I went ahead and ignored that tickling in my brain and put it out there.

Well, the comment I posted garnered a couple return comments. I didn't know that I was joining in on a discussion but there it was. Unfortunately, the comments weren't great or positive, and it just knocked the wind right out of my sails for writing. I've gone back to the project a few times since then but cannot seem to gather my thoughts and put them on paper.

Does this ever happen to you? If so, what do you do to get back into your project?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I was watching a television program this last weekend and a commercial came on advertising some brand of razor. Ok, everything seemed normal so far. But, about half-way through the commercial, the camera shows a man in the shower using this super razor to shave his chest.

I was taken aback and thought, Have we come to the place in history where this is considered normal?

I asked my daughter about this practice and she said, "oh yeah Dad, that's just manscaping. Men do it all the time now."

Wow. Now I remember when bodybuilders shaved their body hair to accentuate their muscles. I know that swimmers and bicycle racers shaved for better aerodynamics. The thought being that shaving body hair decreased drag and increased aerodynamic efficiency.

I suppose those pictures one sees on the covers of romance novels often show men (who looked prettier than the women) standing behind some swooing debutante with long flowing hair on their heads but hairless chests.

And it's not just the chest that men are shaving nowadays. I've heard that it is now common practice to shave in other areas as well. I don't know. I don't mind trimming the laurels with a good set of shears but I would be very hesitant to pave the entire landscape smooth with a sharp scraper.

All this having been said. I suppose it is only fair that the same standards men have forced on women for years be turned around so that us men can get a little taste of our own medicine.

I must agree that, as men get older, they tend to lose hair in some places and grow hair in other, less desirable areas. For instance, I do not suffer from extreme back hair or anything like that, in fact, I'm fairly hair-less for a guy, but with my age I've succomed to the additional responsibility of shaving my ears and plucking my eyebrows on occasion. I usually have to perform this maintenance before getting my hair cut to avoid the embarrassment of my hair stylist having to do it for me.

And, I must also agree that there are some men out there that could really use a good trimming (or mowing) over most of their body. I've seen some men that I can only imagine is the reason people have to wear red or some other bright color when hunting. Otherwise, with all the hair on their backs, they may be mistaken for a bear or some other wild animal, and shot by mistake.

I now realize, gone are the days when it was OK, desirable, sexy even, to leave some body hair intact. Just look at all our past leading men and ladies - like Austen Powers!

Yes, I know this is a touchy subject, but I guess I've been living in the past, and it took a television commercial to get with the times.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cats and Dogs-Revenge of Kitty Galore (Review)

Yesterday I saw a pre-screening of the new movie "Cats and Dogs - Revenge of Kitty Galore." We took my two and a half year old Grandson. He seemed to enjoy the movie but I think some of the humor went over his head.

The movie was, of course, the sequel to the first "Cats and Dogs"  that had the motto "Cats rule, Dogs drool." Tinkles (from the first movie) made an appearance in the sequel. He was doing time at Alcatraz and was all chained up on a board with a muzzle over his mouth reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter in the movie "Silence of the Lambs. The makers of the movie even found  a way to squeeze in the "Fave bean" statement, although it was lost to the majority of the viewing audience who were not even born when that movie first appeared.

The rest of the movie was a spoofy mix of James Bond, Men in Black, and Gilligan's Island. I won't say anything more or I could spoil the plot. But I will say this: Many of the children's movies nowadays are riddled with humor that is funny on two levels. First, the children understand the slapstick comedy of the moment, and second, Adults understand the adult innuendo and references to past movies.

I would say the only disappointment, in my screening anyway, was that it was not in 3-D. That's OK though, the last time I tried to watch a 3-D movie at a theater, I got all woozy and nauseated.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When it Rains it Pours

As of last night when I was on my way to a writer's group meeting, I still had not heard any news about my submissions. But, when I arrived home, I had notification that not one, but both of my submissions were accepted for publication!

So, for those of you that are interested, look for my two first published works (beside some poetry and a very naughty story) to appear in the September issue of Eclectic Flash magazine.

The first story is called, The Sentient Soldier, a speculative piece about a spec ops soldier of the future clearing distant planets for industrial use who is endowed with very special training, drugs, and devices, which allow him to follow his killing orders without remorse or guilt. Of course, when all of his external devices fail, he is left with a life or death decision that must come from the pit of his soul. What will he decide?

The second story is called My Mind's Eye, and is a comedic piece about truth in advertising. You see, my main character is seeing a psychic. Well, not really seeing but communicating with online. She disperses his futures in coded messages he cannot understand. Misunderstandings and mayhem ensue until he is finally taught a lesson that affects his own vision of the future.

I'll make a repost just before publication to remind everyone to visit the websight where you can read the stories free through their special online reader, or purchase the magazine just to hold it in your hands.

Monday, July 19, 2010

With Baited Breath

As some of you have seen through my previous posts, I've recently submitted one of my stories to a couple markets. Now, I am patiently waiting for today's posting on one a market to see if my work was accepted.

My chances are low as I am not sure the work I've submitted is a good fit for the type of stories they normally post. We'll see.

If I can find success with some short work, I will eventually submit some longer projects for publication. I am down to the last three chapters in my paranormal erotic crime romance project. I originally started this project as an experiment in genre-bending. It's now developed a life of its own.

Well, stay tuned. I should know, by the end of the day, if my work was accepted in its third submission.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Adult Socio-political Twisted Fantasy Nursery Rhyme

Mary had a little dragon
Its teeth were sharp and white
The dragon followed everywhere
It was quite a sight

So, Mary one day went to work
Her dragon close in tow
The boss said, like an insolent jerk
“That dragon’s gotta go”

With Mary this did not sit well
In fact, it pissed her off
So, she said to her little dragon, “sit”
And took its collar off

Its collar gone, up it came
And pounced upon the boss
Snapping teeth and spitting flame
Giving the man’s head a toss

In smoke and flames, the building went
From dragon’s fiery breath
And when the dragon’s lungs were spent
There was not a damn thing left

Mary lost her job that day
But it’s neither here nor there
She’ll do fine anyway
On wealth redistribution and Obamacare

Monday, July 12, 2010

Dora, Dora - Oh the Horror!

OK, I know I've ranted on Dora the Explorer before but I must go at it again. Since the last time, I've surpassed the ten thousand hour mark in forced watching of the program.

This weekend as I sat with my Grandson, watching the bossy little girl do her thing, I started thinking of great cast-offs to the show.

For instance, what if the producers of the show were to mix Dora with that old favorite, The Wizard of Oz?

I can imagine Dora, swept away by some strong wind. Maybe, with some luck, she'll lose that stupid backpack along the way. She would, of course, end up at the far end of the yellow brick road with her dog, or in this case, monkey: Boots.

Some princess would invariably appear, and tell her she must venture to the end of the yellow brick path and the lost city in order to recover her lost backpack.

Along the way she would meet up with that poor brainless wonder, Tico. The two of them would continue down the path on her way to regain possession of her backpack.

She soon finds herself in the woods and meets her next friend, Isa, that heartless green lizard, who also seems to be missing hands and feet. Lastly, she meets that uncouragious moron, Benny the Bull. The team assembled, they move on, singing happily (or gayly, if it were still politically correct to use that term) while continuing on their quest to reach the lost city.

My favorite part of the story would be when the Grumpy Old Troll  is under his bridge looking into his crystal ball, and watching Dora and her merry band of misfits meandering down the yellow brick path.

"I'm going to get you Dora ... and your little Monkey too!" The Grumpy old troll rubs his beard as he anticipates the things he will do to torture Dora and her Monkey, if he could only just grab them instead of rubbing his chin, laughing, and allowing them to pass.

Of course, Dora eventually finds the lost city but must make her request directly to the wizard - cue Swiper sound effects.

Yes, as the curtain opens and the wizard is revealed, he turns out to be Swiper. And, do you think Swiper is going to give Dora the backpack? 

"Too late," He says as he throws the backpack into the trees, giving Map a concussion and a nasty series of contusions in the process. "You'll never find it now!"

Dora has no choice but to run directly into another adventure to find her backpack again. Sorry Dora, No "we did it" dance for you, this time.

One last thing. On a personal note, I found this picture and must say I like the idea. I believe the Dora pinata must be made for adults more than for children. I, for one, would take great pleasure in beating the stuffing out of a paper mache representation of Dora.

Friday, July 9, 2010

He said, she said: Dialogue Dilemma

This week I attended a local writer's group meeting. I was given the opportunity to read a small portion of one of my works in progress. By read, I mean read out loud. Things sound different when one reads them out loud.

One thing I noticed while I was reading my own work was an issue with dialogue and the use of dialogue tags. Of course, this led to some research and this is what I found:

KEEP IT SIMPLE ... uh, I'll let you figure the last word out.

The most effective dialogue tag in almost all cases is a simple "said." For example:

"Put that spatula down and step away from the grill," she said.

Occasionally, one might need to put a name in place to distinguish who is doing the talking. Most often though, the name is not necessary as long as the writer firmly seats the readers mind in the scene. Sometimes, nothing at all is necessary.

By way of example, let me use a story most of you are familiar with (guys, you don't have to admit it if you don't want to) by Jane Austen, titled Pride and Prejudice. A couple of things demand my attention about the writer and her style in this story.

First, she used very few actual dialogue tags such as "said" in the story. In fact she wrote nearly entire chapters of dialogue and intelligently placed name anchors withing the context of the dialogue itself so that one always knows who is doing the talking and who is receiving.

On another note, one might notice that, throughout the entire story, Mr. and Mrs Bennet are never given first names. To this day, I could not tell you what their first names were, if they ever had them.

It is a skillful writer who can completely omit dialogue tags and still allow the reader to follow the rhythm and flow of communication. One of my favorite authors, Lee Child, is great at this. In fact, I think that he has just about perfected the "less is more" concept in dialogue. Sometimes his main character, Jack Reacher, doesn't say anything at all. In fact his part of the dialogue is simply and brilliantly written "Reacher said nothing."

Also important is to remember that dialogue should be used to show character traits and drive the story forward. In other words, and I'm especially guilty of this, do not just insert dialogue for the sake of having dialogue.

A great piece of advice that I wish I had originated (I'm just not that smart) is to break up dialogue with action. Have your character do something instead of trying to write down what you are trying to express using overbearing verbs and adverbs.

Sometimes action can even replace dialogue and have the same revealing effect.

I could provide a thousand examples of what not to do and at least two examples of what to do but, in the end, the best way to find the best dialogue is simply to read the passage, or passages aloud.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hold on!

This post is just to let ya'll know that I am still alive. Just been keeping very busy, trying to finish a project. More posts to follow ... post-haste.