Thursday, August 29, 2013

Latest Acquisition

Well, I think I've finally gone over the edge. Yes, I've found another typewriter that I just HAD TO HAVE.

I must say though, that I think I just bought the best that Smith-Corona ever made. The only thing I can do now to improve my typewriter collection is to buy more of the same model in different colors ... although, I've kind of been eyeballing one of the old Corona 3 foldable typewriters lately.

Here's my typecast from the latest typewriter in my collection:

I also must leak some future news in the writing area. I think you'll like it, but you'll just have to wait until next month. I actually thought about writing some of my mystery/crime/suspense works in progress on this new typewriter but then thought about the lack of auto correct, and cut and past, and quickly squelched that idea before it could fester.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Adventures at the Beach

Last weekend we went to the beach with our daughter and grandchildren. As usual, we spent an hour arguing about my driving ability and being lost for every ten minutes of enjoyment. It was a great time had by all. In fact, We're already talking about going again.

Having not been to the beaches of Florida for some time, I realized we'd forgotten some basic knowledge about beach-going. So, in grand JL Stratton fashion, I must propagate my pedagogy to the world so that you may learn from my mistakes.

First and foremost, if I could give you just one piece of advice, that would be:

Wear sunscreen.

Of course, this is followed my instruction that you should apply the sunscreen in places you would not think the rays of the sun might reach because, at the beach anyway, the sun seems to defy all physics and logical thinking to create sunburns in places one might previously thought of as "covered."


Bring a swim suit.

I know. One would think this is a given but apparently, not for me. Overcoming my lack of prior planning forced me to venture into the sea, holding my grandchildren-one at a time-tightly across the fat folds of my ever-increasing midsection, while sporting my plaid shorts. At least I had the sense to remove my shirt. Although I somehow was not fortuitous enough to gather enough wit to apply sunscreen to my freshly exposed aforementioned midsection while frolicking amongst the fish and waves. Sadly, I succeeded in making myself look like some kind of cross between a striped Easter egg and a fully cooked lobster.


Be willing to part with vast amounts of your money.

Thirsty? Want some water? Sure, it's available ... for a price. Again, a little forethought might have allowed me to avoid this, but that's just not my way.

Fortunately for us, we were traveling with our daughter who's been to the beach more recently and planned for such events. Plus, she's a mommy and has aquired mommy ninja skills. She seemed to have an endless supply of clothing for the children , and was right there with the proper toiletries when the granddaughter had to stop along the highway on the way to the beach for an emergency pee break, which turned into something else entirely.

I guess my wife and I had forgotten just what it took to prepare for a simple day at the beach with young children. It did make me feel better though, when I saw a young man struggling to make his way across the white sands with a stroller. Good thing is that, if this young man had any sense at all, this would be the last time he attempted such a treacherous journey over sand with the miniscule hard rubber wheels of a stroller.

Ah, other people's pain and suffering. Somehow, it always makes me feel better about myself.

Just saying.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Insecure Writers - First Post

This being my first venture into the world of participative blogging, I thought I'd start with a related subject area, and one I personally have quite an amount of trouble with ... where to begin.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that readers of my stories have (in not so many words) told me that I occasionally ramble along before getting to the meat of my prose. I know there is much advice out there about where one should begin a story but this advice is often much easier to read than to actually follow in deed.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, this question is asked and answered as such:

"Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop."

This is fine advice that I often adhere to when beginning a new story, especially with a new character. I like to take a little time and burn a few thousand words finding out just who this character is and what the character is all about. Beginning at the very beginning keeps me focused on how my character got into the predicament they currently find themselves.

Unfortunately, that does not bode well with readers.

I've often heard that a good story begins "In medias res" or in the middle of things. In medias res is term first coined by the Roman poet and philosopher, Horace in his writings involving the Trojan War. He also used the term "ab ovo" meaning "from the egg." a reference given to the cause of the Trojan war after the birth of Helen and Clytemnestra by Leda after she was raped by the god Zeus while he was in the form of a swan. I know, roman mythology is so weird.

Anyway, I've come up with a solution that I believe benefits my need to write about past and circumstance, and my readers desire to enter the story and immediately be cast into the fray.

I just go ahead and write my story from the beginning and then advance forward to the point where I can begin with conflict or action, and make that my new beginning. I then drop these discarded words throughout the story where needed to fill in gaps and explain deeper character without breaking tension or action.

My record so far for amount of story created before actually finding the beginning is 10. Yes, in one story, I actually wrote ten chapters before deciding that this advanced portion would become the new beginning.

So, here's to beginnings, real and adjusted. My hope is that other writers will read this and know they are not alone in providing too much information or backstory and having to reel it in. Please tell me there are others out there like me. Are there any other writers out there that do this? I hope so.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to visit other members here.