Friday, December 12, 2014

Holidays in our house

Statement of fact:  Christmas is wonderful.
Way back in the early 50s. when my brother and I were mere children, Christmas was the biggest thing in our lives.  I don't know what Santa went through to bring us the assortment of great toys and stuff in our stockings, but the old elf was pretty busy and we were never discontent.  My mother often quotes that, after going through unwrapping all our stuff, one of us asked "is this all?" meaning, of course, having unwrapped so many presents, we didn't want to miss one.  But, taken as parents are wont to do, they considered it ungrateful and greedy in that we wanted more.  No.  We just didn't want to miss something.
The house was full of candles of choir boys and plastic poinsettias and red and green. I remember my father putting the lights on the live tree and cursing because back in the old days, if one light bulb was dead, the whole string didn't work and he'd have to go through the replacement bulbs one by one to fix things.  There never seemed to be the right bulbs and it took hours--or maybe it just seemed like that.  The radio that was part of our television played Christmas music.  Mom went nuts over the tinsel hanging.  We never did it right, but she fixed it.
Oh, the food!
There were cookies everywhere.  Thousands! In later years, she worked in the school cafeteria and the ladies baked their cookies there in the big trays, then would trade off.  It's called a cookie exchange now, back then it was just friends sharing cookie recipes and baked goods.  Mom liked her cookies on the small side.  One bite, she'd say.  We wanted something to munch on.  Never happened. Mom was pretty strict about her baked goods.  "Saving for company" was her watchword.  And we did have lots of company back then.
My parents weren't big party givers, but when they did, it was special.  I helped Mom make appetizers or hors d'ervors (please spell check fix this!) which meant putting a dab of cream cheese on a Ritz cracker and a slice of green olive on it.  Sometimes I spread Kraft cheddar pimento cheese in a little jar on the Ritz. Sometimes it was the Roka Bleu spread!  To my amazement, these delicacies are still made.  Oh, and wait...sometimes there were curled up little anchovies from a can placed atop that cream cheesed Ritz.  Come to think of it, there might not have been any other cracker back then that was suitable for company.
The parties sort of stopped when my younger brother came along.  Dad worked rotating shifts because my older brother was ready for college. Mom was home with the kid.  Only relatives showed up at Christmas.  Or sometimes, we'd go to her mother's and father's house for Christmas dinner, after mass, of course. Grandma put out a lot of food.  Sometimes she invited my other grandmother to join us.  My uncle, single then, was always good for great presents.  One year, he had a few drinks with the owner of the only jewelry shop in town and our presents were pretty fabulous!
But the smell of the baking cookies, the pine from the tree, the warmth inside and the chill outside (let there be ice skates under the tree, please!) and the joy, the out and out joy...these things made my Christmas season wonderful.
I don't know if I managed to do the same for my own children.  I sure hope they have memories to equal or surpass mine.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Gray day

So, not having written here in ages, I thought of something to write last night that was bound to bring comment after comment.
Only, come morning, I completely forgot what it was.

This happens more and more.  Evenings when I am sitting around doing nothing but thinking, I come up with all these great ideas.  Sometimes, I actually get up from the bed and write down a note or two, but mostly, since I am trying to go to sleep, I just lie there and stare at the ceiling or shut my eyes tightly and pretend that will get me to fall asleep.
It never works.

This morning at about 4:00 I woke up and ended up going downstairs to watch some television.  Whatever brainstorm I had had went down the tubes.

So I decided to watch Phineas and Ferb and think.  I did get tired enough to go upstairs, though.  And I was supposed to go shopping for Christmas presents this morning but I found a good Canadian movie instead and watched that to the end.

Okay, enough procrastination.
I hand wrote a scene weeks ago that I ought to put into the computer before the new one comes and I lose everything.

It starts out with Lee offering to split 60/40 with Maggie if she will stay and help him run the hotel.  Maggie considers the idea, but feels a little slighted after she makes a list of all she will be doing and all he will be  doing.

It's quite a list.
I really, really have to work on finishing this story.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Blog share with a recipe!!!

My friend Anastasia Pollock, aka Lois Winston, asked me to post something on her blog, but it had to include a recipe.
So I tried to think of something in my new novella that was food, other than Halloween candy, and I came up blank again.
Until I remembered that Jim Ryan gets to eat some coconut cake.  Now, I don't have a recipe for that, but I do have a recipe for delicious coconut cream pie.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thoughts old and new

This is the cover for my newest novella, due to go up on shortly.  The Lignarius is back, tracking vampires in Charleston, South Carolina.  It's late October, there's a slight chill in the air and death stalking those who choose to take a midnight stroll through the beautiful city.

And Jim  Ryan appears distracted.  He keeps thinking about the woman he loves, trying to get her dead sister's life in order back in New Jersey.  He's not himself, really.  But in his life, he has to be sharp at all times, his senses amped up to max level.  No thoughts of a warm body next to his should stray into his mindset.

But they do.  And he'd better do his job because Charleston is full of vamps!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Revisionist history

My WWII story, still in progress VERY slowly, takes place during the last 9 days of WWII.  That includes the bombing of Hiroshima and three days later, Nagasaki.
I needed to look up the American reaction to the second bombing.  After Hiroshima, the American public was thrilled at the power and supremacy of our nation.  We were hot stuff, we'd probably gotten the Japs to their knees and were the leaders of the world.  Europe and some of Asia had been ravaged by the Japanese.  China had suffered the rape of Nanking, I think it was, where the people were slaughtered without mercy.  Hitler had done his own fair share of slaughtering innocents with a true purpose in mind. He liked it.  He was an animal.  He had no conscience, and apparently, neither did the Japanese military.
There are films of young schoolgirls training to fend off the enemy with sharpened poles.  They were told to hate us and they did.
If we were going to win the war, we had to do something drastic, not wait for Stalin to somehow get across the vast expanse of Siberia to join in the war and obliterate the Japs who were in Manchuria and Korea and other places.
So, we dropped a bomb...not just any bomb, but the most destructive force in the world.

The rest is history.
Or is it?

I looked up stuff today about the reaction to the dropping of the bombs.  I had seen photos of how the people reacted when they heard about the atomic bomb and Mr. Truman's speech that fateful day to all Americans.  But I wanted to find out if any fuss was made over the dropping of the second plutonium bomb, Fat Boy, on Nagasaki.

All I could find was second thought, revisionist history in which people born probably well after the war was over wrote about how big a mistake it was to drop either bomb.  How unnecessary it was.  How there was no need for a land invasion that would kill a million American forces.  It was, in their opinions, a bunch of lies.  The Japanese were on their knees already.  They had no army left.  They deserved to be treated differently.

Yeah.  It's easy to sit in the comfort of the future and say what an unnecessary, perhaps even evil thing we did.
How is it that, seen through the cataracts of time, it was a horror?
Yes, it was brutal and we wouldn't do it now because we've made our peace with our enemies, but then, when how many brave men died for the cause of freedom, it was justified.

War is hell.  Yes, it is a horror show and evil and bloody and destroys so many lives, not to mention property, because it's the lives we're concerned about.  There is nothing good about war--any war, whether a Crusade or Vietnam or this mess we find ourselves in today.  But it continues to happen and we continue to rise to the bait and use power against power to see who comes out on top.

What bothers me most is how these historians condemn what was done through the benefit of hindsight.  Give me a break.  There is nothing good about war, and absolutely nothing good about trying to excuse the outcome or what anyone does in a war.  Certainly words written 60 years later will not make anything better.  It won't make Hiroshima or Bataan or Burma or Saigon or any of those mud hut towns in faraway places better.

To change history is a mistake.  It's not 1984, we can't make up facts, but we can change how they are reported.  Facts are.  They can't be erased to make people feel less guilty.  No confession of evil absolves anyone. 
If you can find a veteran, ask him or her how they feel about putting their lives on the line so historians can try to change their reality.
Go ahead.


Just don't ask one from our more recent conflicts.  You might get decked.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Obscuring the Obvious

Back in 1956, a woman named Grace Metalious wrote the novel of her lifetime, Peyton Place.  It had it all...rape, incest, promiscuity, money, poverty, New England (four towns thinly disguised) and murder.  Instantly, it became a bestseller, sitting on the NYT bestseller list for 59 weeks.  Just goes to show you what the reading public wanted back then.
Move ahead to 1957 when it was dramatized for television.  So many characters, so many threads, so many arcs to follow, but one sticks in my mind.

Recently widowed, Constance MacKenzie comes back to her hometown with a baby girl, Allison.  She is beautiful and tries to live the quiet life...for a reason.  Her widowhood does not bear close examination because Allison was born out of wedlock...way out of wedlock and back then, in 1957, by all accounts, that was enough to have a scarlet letter sewn on her dress.  She hides her daughter's illegitimacy by buying a framed photograph at Woolworth's of a soldier and standing it on the mantel of their fireplace.

Time passes.  Allison (Mia Farrow) grows up, goes to high school.  She is pursued by the son of the richest man in town, Rodney Harrington.  Now, in the book, old Rod is killed in a car crash.  He lives quite well in the TV show, played by the actor who now plays Bones's father (Ryan O'Neal) on the show of that name.  He has a younger brother, but the father, the richest guy in town, of course favors his older son, much to the regret of the younger.  That comes into play later.

Allison doesn't know she hides a Big Secret.  She would LOVE to marry Rodney, but somebody shows up who knows either 1. she's fatherless or 2. also bought the same picture frame at Woolworth's.  The jig, as they say, is up.

Allison is crushed to learn she was born on the other side of the blanket from her mother.  Her tiny New England town would be aghast and certainly, Rodney will shun her along with everyone else for this fact.
Little does she, and the other people in town know what the truth about marriage among the Puritans was really like.
You see, back in the old, old days, despite the bundling boards and that nonsense, something like 2/3 of all marriages took place because the woman had already conceived the intended's child.  It was proof that she could bear children and thus help out on the family farm or enterprise in the future. As long as the couple were married within a certain amount of time (when were shotguns invented?) the child would be deemed legitimate. This is historical fact, though well hidden by the Victorian/American morality that was to follow our puritanical forebears.  I'll try to find something to cite here, but I can't remember where I heard this or read it, so it might take awhile. (Blossoms in the Dust w/ Greer Garson as Edna Gladney)

Now, look at today.  The TV censors wouldn't blink at this situation.  It was hot stuff back when I had to ask what illegitimacy meant.  My mother produced my father's 1918 birth certificate that had in the corner, a check box for legitimate or illegitimate.  Hers, from 1920, did not have this.  Thanks to someone who cared about children, this was taken off all birth certificates in the US by 1926, so that these little babies would not suffer the sins of their parents.  There was a  movie based on the woman responsible for this, can't remember the name, though. 

Today, none of this would matter, not really.
Movie stars, rock stars, government officials...they are affianced to their baby mamas and baby daddies.  Nobody blinks.

Poor Allison.  She left town and Rodney in shame.  Here's where Rodney could have died in a car crash, though. If she could just have held out a little longer, or possibly killed the person who knew her deep, dark secret!  And then her mother, because she knew, too.  Now that would have been pretty dramatic, even in 1959.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The vacation

To me, a vacation is doing something I really want to do with boring times stuck in between the good things.  It means writing my story, researching and contemplating while relaxing, perhaps visiting a museum or touring different countryside.
It does not mean being stuck in a place where I can't do any of these things.  That, I would say, is more like being in prison.
I need quiet.  I need time to think.  I need a space to write and create. I need some small diversions other than eating.

We just got back from vacation.
I actually managed to hand write three legal size pages of drek. That was all I could do.

If watching the last half of Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark could be considered research, well, that's my research.

I could say a few choice words, all of them blue, because my lovely ideas and plans did not come to fruition.  Now, I have to settle down and get with the story.

Oh, just one little bluey stuck in here.

Monday, June 30, 2014

More from the Mermaid Arms

Best they left in the morning, even if he was a louse to throw them out.  She’d only make things worse.  Her and her girls.  
   Going around to the side of the house, he looked up toward the light coming from Number Five.
   She was there, silhouetted, leaning against the window, traced in silver from starlight. 
   To his eternal shame, his body reacted to the vision of her, wanting to take her in his arms and hold her, smell her hair, feel the softness of her body against his.
   How much torture could one man take?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

The rabbits in my life

Every day once the snow melts I look out my window at the back yard gardens.  Every day is something new, something different, and as the days grow longer and the green gets greener, our furry friends appear.
Only they aren't cute and cuddly.  They want to destroy our plants and eat our green beans and tomatoes.
It used to be the squirrels.  Either they're dead or they have moved on.
Sometimes it is the groundhog...I don't know what it eats, but it is HUGE and lives under our neighbor's shed.  Big brown slug of a must eat anything it wants to eat or can find.

And then, there are the bunnies.  Yes, they are cute and clever and furry and funny, but once they find our gardens, they become instruments of the devil.
They take one bite from a perfectly ripe, round tomato and leave it on the vine to rot or draw insects or get moldy.  They gnaw off the green beans, while leaving the eggplant and peppers alone.  I haven't seen anything attack the broccoli or cabbages, but the white butterflies lay their eggs on them and then the plants die for having their roots destroyed.
Forget what happens to our squash!  Those IOTD are invisible, possibly worms or a virus even.  I love squash and hate to see perfectly good fruit shrivel and die.

But today I happened to see a preciously little bunny chase under the pool deck and wait, wait to get into the garden.  It slipped across the yard, beyond the garden then came racing pall mall back through the yard into the perennial garden and hopefully out the six foot chain link fence we had to put up to keep the bloody white tail deer out.

All this for some tomatoes, beans and peppers.
Squash, cabbages and broccoli.
And flowers.

Seems like a lot of work, doesn't it?
Bunnies belong in hutches, not my yard.  Grrrr!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

More stupidity

Okay, so we were in Wildwood.  The weather was lousy, rainy, cold, foggy.  There were times when the ocean disappeared.  So I had some time alone to write.
And I did!  Sixteen hundred words toward ending WWII, but really not that much closer.

I have to think and "see" the scenes before I write them.  The movie in my head doesn't always work.  These two fabulous scenes came about because someone's love story inspired me and I forced myself to write the other one.  Good character development, though, since this is women's fiction.

To my regret, we did not get to Long Beach Island because the motel claimed not have gotten our reservation.  So we came home early.

Even so.  I had a good time.  My characters had a great time and got further along in their story.  BUT, and this is a big one...I don't know where these scenes belong.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Stupid, stupid me

I think I mentioned here before that I did a stupid thing with my newest manuscript.  I got off the first six chapters then I got sick, so I stopped writing.
Months of research, I copied everything onto paper because I like that and can work on it without a computer.  Reams of information about WWII, the Merchant Marine, Long Beach Island. I did interviews with people who were alive then.  I went to two museums and searched records.  Sally and I drove around, placing where buildings were located all those years ago and what is there now.  That way, I could actually let my people walk to places and it would be correct. We found two Victorian houses, mirror images of each other, that will be perfect for the guest house in the story. Writer's privilege to move them around. There were actual houses and guest houses on the beach, which was much wider, but some of them got wrecked during the hurricane of '44.  So, I have just about everything set.
Last year, I made a timeline.
But, my big mistake was writing out of sequence. I just wrote here and there, whatever I felt like writing.  Little scenes, big scenes.
Anything but not in order. I tried to put what I had done onto the timeline, but I have since not learned my lesson and have written out of sequence again and these things are not on the timeline yet.
DON'T DO THIS, people.  Write in sequence.  Do not write whatever you want to write then get stuck having to fill in the big gaping holes in the storyline!!!!!!

I need to somehow make sense of the timeline which is written on legal paper, sideways.  I can't even copy it.  I may have to write it all over again, somehow, but not sideways or vertically.

Regrets, I have a few...for doing it my way.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Where have I been?

Okay, the new Godzilla movie is out.  I've heard it is okay, but you don't really see the monster until the last 20 minutes.
That's taking things a bit too far, postponing the actual sight of the monster until so late, after it has done all this damage.
I watched eight old school Godzilla movies last weekend. They're pretty pathetic until about the mid-90s.  But they can still carry me away.  Kaiju...big monsters dreamed up by the Japanese...that only seem to want to destroy their homeland.
Maybe because WE tried to destroy their homeland to end WWII, they got the idea.

But, now here's where it gets sort of interesting.
I have come to the conclusion that the reason I like Godzilla so much is because it represents the ultimate BAD BOY.
Women are intrigued by bad boys.  We want to understand what makes them tick.  We want to love them.  We want to change them into good boys, the kind we can love and cherish for the rest of our lives. (Although the idea of a real old bad boy, all wrinkled and pruney, is disturbing.)
So, here we have the ultimate BAD BOY in the form of a radiated dinosaur/monster, whose only real fun is destroying skyscrapers and the people inside them stupid enough to remain there when most of the other citizens are running away?
Think about this.  Oh, yes, think about this.
See if I am not right.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


While I was watching a program on the Smithsonian Channel about this guy named Shockley (of course I forget his first name) I realized that my days of genius are gone.

Whoever this guy started out to be, he always thought, even as a young child, that he would win the Nobel Prize for something.  In the few minutes I watched the show, I learned that he got it for inventing along with the two more famous guys, the transistor.  We all know how important those things are.  In the background, mysterious and mystical formulas and mathematical equations floated.  They meant nothing to me.  They never will. But he is responsible for starting what is known as Silicon Valley and all the assorted scientific wonders that has produced.  He went around recruiting the best and the brightest men (humph) and got them to work together...inventing stuff. 
The show didn't say he invented anything after the transistor, though. Maybe he just sat around picking people out for their genius and let them do all the work.  I don't know.

Yesterday I saw one of my favorite Alien shows about Albert Einstein's brain.  Really.  And it went on and on about how he must have been visited by aliens when he went into one of his deep thought things.  He used to just sit quietly and think and all these cool things that nobody else can understand came to him.

Trance-like.  Far viewing.  Self-hypnosis.  Daydreaming?  Whatever it was he did, he came up with that totally incomprehensible stuff about bending space and finding wormholes in which to travel to far off stars and not age as much as the people you left behind.

Now, I think that's pretty much bullshit, but I'm not a genius in that way.  Besides, nobody has exactly proven that this will happen as they haven't been gone far enough away at the speed of light to prove it.  It's a THEORY and we are supposed to accept it as fact.

Well, I call shenanigans!

If I sit real still and think inside my brain, I come up with ideas for stories.  There are some people in this world who cannot picture things in their minds unless they see a photo or something in National Geographic...and then they have to strain to come up with a description of what they've seen.  I imagine these people do not become writers.  For all their genius, for all they think of space bending and mass equaling such and such...I think I'd rather have the brain I have.

Even if it is starting to forget more than you'll ever know.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Near Death

Okay, it wasn't really that bad, but...somebody asked me how many words on the WWII story I had in the can.  I decided I would print out all the various disconnected scenes along with the six chapters that are actually the beginning of the story and count the words.  Easy, right?

So, I went looking for the scenes and found three pivotal scenes, nearly whole chapters, missing.  They were just not where I thought I put them.  I could remember what happened but not how, the words were not there for me to recapture, but the ideas were.  I panicked.  I looked through my WORD files.  Nada.  Karyn found something by typing in key words in that little file folder thing on the bottom of the page here for which I was grateful, but I distinctly remembered these two missing scenes that I knew I had written and were apparently gone forever.

I tried her trick, putting several words that were distinct to these passages into the little space atop the folder looking thing on the bottom of the screen.  Nothing happened. 
I went through 819 SENT emails because I knew I had written these passages recently enough and was negligent on deleting sent stuff.  Nope.  Not there. 

I wrote to the very friends I sent these sections to, hoping beyond hope that they had somehow saved these bits.  Nope, though they remembered what I had written.

I read through those SENT folders again. 

I prayed.

I checked my husband's WORD file on his laptop...success!  I found one thing I had written last summer and neglected to put into My WORD file.  That was good, but still, there were two whole big scenes missing.  Memorable, but not word for word repeatable.

Last resort, today, I started looking through my entire documents file.  I found two files with BACKUPWIDOWSWALK on them...surely something I had transferred to gmail then into my files somewhere.
I opened the first and there was the first segment I was looking for.
Opened the second and, bingo!  The last missing piece was in there.

So, I am printing out all the words I have written, wherever I may find them, just to see how many words I have regarding this lovely story.  My heart is happy.  Now I just have to highlight and print all I have. 
I can do that.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Joy to you and me

Back in the 50s, obtaining a goldfish was something special.  I had my tonsils removed when I was five or six.  My reward for the most horrifying, harrowing two days of my life was twofold.  The toy piano I had longed for sat by my bedside when I got home from the hospital and on my bureau sat a fishbowl containing a shimmeringly beautiful fantail goldfish.

Just now I was thinking about what my mother must have gone through to get that goldfish.  In the old days, Woolworths' maintained a huge tank filled with probably two hundred or more goldies.  A kid would go up to it, nose to glass, and find the exact one out of all of these that he/she wanted and the poor salesperson in the pet department (they had parakeets, too) would proceed to dip a long-handled net into the vast tank to locate that exact fish.  Sometimes those slippery little boogers would make this an hour long job.  I bet more than once, the person snagged a similar fish and was able to convince the kid that it was indeed the exact one the kid had chosen.

Now, I can't imagine my mother picking out an exact fish for the unlucky salesperson to get.  She probably just said, "give me a fantail" or in Mom's case, "just give me a pretty fish" as Mom surely was not into goldfish of any kind, picturing how she would be the one to clean the bowl and remember to feed the thing.  I was five!

So, fish caught, it would be placed with a bit of water into one of those white containers we get Chinese takeout in nowadays! Small, sure.  One serving of white rice size. In fact, I can't remove a carton from the bag now without thinking of goldfish.  And it must have gone home with a bowl and net and food, too.  Thanks, Mom.

Goldie suffered two deaths.  My mother, resourceful and incredibly brave, managed to resuscitate it the first time by placing the "dead" fish on several ice cubes.  It did come back to life and managed to live a few more years!  The second time, however, the ice didn't work.  Goldie received a fond tribute as it was flushed down the toilet. I cried.

I am a sentimental old fool.  I've got tears in my eyes now.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Come see us!

Seven Jersey Girl authors!  Great books, great conversation, wine and cheese.  Who could ask for anything more?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

See what happens when you write out of sequence?

From Mermaids Arms...
Maggie slumped over the big roll-top desk, grabbed the sides with both hands and allowed a few tears to fall onto the ledger in front of her.  She wiped them away quickly, lest someone see her giving in to her emotions.  It was too much.  She’d been through settling her mother in law’s estate, notifying relatives and being ignored by them for weeks.  The only responses she’d gotten from anyone were queries as to how big an estate there was and who would inherit.
   The estate wasn’t big, but there had been some money, which she did not get, even after caring for the old witch for over a year.  “Well, you got to live in that big old house for free, you and your girls.  She never liked you, anyway, girl,” she’d heard in one form or another from several of the loving relatives.
  Loving. Hell. They’d all stayed away from her mother in law for years and years because she was a raving witch, but once the ding dong had sounded, they’d each thought themselves entitled to a piece of the pie.  And, strangely enough, they’d gotten their pieces.  While the old lady had been unbelievably nasty, she had been rather generous to her family...other than her only son’s wife and daughters, her only grandchildren.
   However, and this was the oddest thing, one insurance policy had not been changed over from Bill after his death. Perhaps the old lady thought he still might come back from his watery grave or maybe she’d just forgotten the small policy.  If she had remembered that the policy went to Bill or his next of kin should he predecease her, well, maybe she’d have changed her mind and the beneficiaries.   She hadn’t, though, and after some intense wrangling and threats of lawsuits against her, she now had nearly five hundred dollars to get her and the girls to Ohio.
   She wiped her eyes with the side of her hand and sniffled into her handkerchief.
   No one must see her like this.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

World War II story, Mermaids Arms

From my work in slow progress:
     Lee paced across the wooden floor, his bare feet padding rhythmically in a soldier’s cadence.  Something, some nameless frustration, burned through his body, setting every nerve afire.  He shook his head, flexed his left hand.
     The glove didn’t work. While his fingers could reach the strings, he could not move them fast enough and the soft leather end just didn’t press hard enough despite the seam there.  The strings bounced back.  The sound wasn’t right.  The movement—it wasn’t there.  The control—hah!  What control?
     He ripped off the glove, sending it sailing across the small bedroom.  It landed inches away from the guitar.
     Useless.  The glove was useless.  His hand was useless.  His dreams of making music—well, evidently they were just that.  Stupid dreams.
     He needed to punch something.  Hard.  Raising his hand to the wall, he feinted a jab, but he couldn’t follow through. The hand stopped inches away from rending plaster to dust.  Useless it may be, but not without some feeling.  It would hurt.  He left the room, left the damned guitar he’d never play again.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Goaded by yesterday

It has come to my mind that, as a writer, I'm supposed to post "how-to's" on my blog.  I gave that up long ago once I realized that nobody gave a rat's ass.

Yesterday at the LSFW meeting, the speakers were commenting that writers should always post how- to information.  I consider that giving away talent for free.  I think I've already done that, but since I've been blogging here and on LiveJournal for years, maybe there are new people out there who never read my good stuff.  And let's not talk about the other website I had with all the notes about writing I put on there.  Somebody was supposed to transfer all that stuff onto this, but it never happened.

So, I'm gonna start off slowly.

I'm gonna divulge what I do to find cool names for characters.

I look at the credits from all the PBS shows first...make mental notes on cool first names and last names.  I try very hard not to use ethnic names for characters as I do not want to possibly alienate readers who find they cannot pronounce character names because there are too many vowels or consonants.  Look, I know that puts me off...those real Irish names that no one could pronounce but someone versed in me nuts.  How can Aislinn be Ashlyn?  Darragh be just Darra?  Why the extra letters?  And then, whoa!  A Polish surname with no vowels whatsoever is impossible to figure out without a hunk of kielbasa in one hand and a chaser of vodka in the other.  If even then.

So, after plumbing the wonders of BBC, my next step, if I haven't come up with anything yet, is to read the obituaries online.  Located in those nuggets of sadness are some really cool names.  You take one from one place, another from another, you're set.

The real problem with a name is that it has to match the character.  Women's names can be airy fairy and you don't want to use that for a strong, 21st century female heroine.  Men...very sensitive here as you don't want a repeat of "A Boy Named Sue" any time.  Certain names are very masculine, others are new and made up (see football players' lineups) and some aren't very heroic.  Sometimes the nicknames are cooler than the real names, but sometime or other, you have to explain the guy's real name in the story and why he's called CAM and not Camerill.  Yes, it can be that oddball.

Name matching.  A dark haired hero or heroine shouldn't have a light haired name.
You can always do initials, but once again, somewhere in the story, you have to use the real name or else people like me will be wondering throughout the read what they stand for. them masculine names is odd. But then, the old saw "my father wanted a boy" is used all too frequently.

I'm big on names...I love searching for the exact right name for a character, even before I write the story.  Look at my stuff and see how I employ my naming methods.