Monday, July 30, 2012

New Adult

Over on Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog, we had a good discussion of what is New Adult—featuring characters ages 18 to 25 (or 18 to 29, as some say), and whether it’s a viable category.  Here are some points I made: 

In contrast to Young Adult, New Adult is NOT about
  • First kiss
  • First love
  • First rebellion

New Adult is more likely to be about
  • First time no one will pay the rent for you
  • First time no one will nag you for staying up late before a crucial exam
  • First time no one will bail you out if you cross the authorities 

Check out Miss Snark’s First Victim’s blog on the subject


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Twilight: How It Should Have Ended

Because you-know-who is in the news . . .

Public Domain 

. . . here’s Twilight: How It Should Have Ended
(This uses film clips, instead of the animated version.) 

And here's the link to my review of the movie where the alleged affair took place.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

McDonald’s Dream

This was a real dream.  I encourage fellow writers to record theirs.  

In the McDonald’s I go to most often, I’m having breakfast.  Samuel L. Jackson, fresh from his role as Nick Fury in The Avengers, comes over to me.  He’s an employee, so he’s dressed in the older sort of McDonald’s uniform, in bright red and yellow, complete with cap. 

A display case shows three new products, each in a cup normally used for drinks. 

Jackson takes the cup on the left and, in his edgy voice, asks if I want to try a sample. 

I ask, “How much?” 

Jackson looks around and yells, “You hear that?  He’s concerned about getting charged!”  He turns back to me and says, “It’s a free sample.” 

I take and look down into the cup.  At first I think it’s empty, then I realize there’s a tiny amount of tortilla chips and bits of cheese at the bottom, enough to make small nachos for one when microwaved—obviously a good snack idea. 

Jackson next hands me the center cup from the display.  “Have a free sample.” 

Again, the cup appears to be empty—just what appears to be dark caramel at the bottom, not even covering the entire flat part, the liquid mostly in the circular edge. 

I sniff.  It smells like caramel, but a certain lift in energy comes along.  This is obviously a way of administering caffeine by having people inhale it—a real innovation. 

We never look at the third product. 

If you like that dream, you might like the one that had Tom Cruise in it.  

Friday, July 20, 2012

Captain Kirk’s Chair and Me

The captain’s chair and yours truly

The Science Fiction Museum in Seattle currently features memorabilia from Star Trek and other shows.  They have the actual Captain Kirk chair from the old Star Trek.  (Okay, it took a few takes to get the angle, the lighting, and the eyebrow just right.  As if none of the rest of you would do the same.) 

Captain Kirk’s chair
surrounded by tribbles

A close up of some of the
armrest controls 

Uhura’s uniform 

Data’s uniform 

Sheridan’s uniform from Babylon 5
Hey, wrong universe 

I’ll share more pictures in future posts.  Meanwhile, you might like my previous posts on the Battlestar Galactica exhibits the museum used to have. 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Falling4Fiction is hosting a Hangers blogfest.  Choose three chapters from one of your writing projects and post the last sentence from each.  Then enter the link on their website.  Winners will get a 10 page critique. 

I’ll choose my work in progress, which is a reimagining of The War of the Worlds.  Here are three sentences designed to leave you hanging: 

Chapter 11  No opportunity to unlock the door without being seen or heard, so I flattened myself against the wall of the house, trembling violently. 

Chapter 15  My senses were overwhelmed as I lay there, head lolling on hard wood, and I couldn’t differentiate between the steam and the smoke obscuring my vision as I blacked out. 

Chapter 18  “Poison gas.”

Monday, July 16, 2012

Rapier Missiles on Your Flats

A judge in Great Britain has ruled that it’s okay to put Rapier missiles on top of some apartments, to provide security for the upcoming London Olympics.  For some reason, the people who live there don’t like the idea. 

Photo by Nirazul 

They even included a handy-dandy map showing the locations, in case you’re a terrorist and would like to bomb the above-mentioned flats. 

How can this happen?  For my American readers, keep in mind they have never had our Third Amendment:  

No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law. 

It would be no good arguing here that these are weapons, not troops.  Soldiers have to operate these things, and on this side of the pond it wouldn’t pass the smell test to say we’re just storing our muskets here, and our soldiers can come back anytime to use them. 

Notice that in time of war this could be modified in the United States by law.  But that’s the point.  The military couldn’t just do this on their own; politicians would have to pass a law, and those same politicians could get booted out of office.  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Adverbs are our Friends (Part II)

Here’s another entry bent on rehabilitating that much-maligned part of speech, the adverb.  My previous post went over beginner's errors that drive the advice sites to warn you to shun adverbs.  But once you drill yourself into not making those errors, there’s some freedom in using adverbs in a way that these sites would normally describe as mistakes.


1) Have a character habitually use an adverb (or other unnecessary word).  An annoying character can say “Really, really.”  When you think about it, doesn’t that show the character is irritating, rather than your having to tell that fact?  Or another character can sometimes say “Evidently” or some other serious adverb, and later in the story another character can begin a sentence with that same adverb to bug the first character.
2) Use an adverb to weaken a phrase.  Recall the moment in the movie Aliens when the shuttle crashes, and the little girl Newt warns they need to get back inside, because the aliens “mostly come out at night.  Mostly.”

Notice how that last “Mostly” deepens the tension.  It’s also a repetition, but the first “mostly” is for the rhythm of the sentence.

3) Place an adverb outside the main sentence.  This is hard to get the hang of, but it does lead to more colorful sentences.  Start with a nice, clean main sentence that is not cluttered with unnecessary adverbs.  Now add an additional phrase to give it depth:

He made a gesture with both arms, as if holding a rifle—disturbingly realistic.

Notice how the “disturbingly realistic” does not sound shallow, but adds depth.

Here’s another example with a complex sentence:

He could only see disaster in the plan, but spoke diplomatically. 

This is much better than, “He spoke diplomatically about the disastrous plan.”  Those who warn against using adverbs have that more boring form of sentence in mind, but they don’t bother to tell you a simple change in sentence structure makes it more interesting. 

And this daring gem will give a heart attack to all those bloggers who tell you to avoid adverbs:

Painfully, wearily, I made my way along the road that runs northward out of Halliford.   

This last example of beginning a sentence with no less than two adverbs must be used sparingly, or it will become obnoxious to the reader.  But isn’t that more colorful writing?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Teaser Tuesday - 101 Dalmatians

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading.  Grab your current read, open to a random page, and share two sentences.

These (the eyes) began to open in eight days.  And a week after that, the puppies’ spots began to show. 

This is the original novel by Dodie Smith, not a picture book with Disney drawings.  Although it’s a children’s book, anglophiles should like it, since Pongo and Missus are very British in their manners.  

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Strange Case of the Guy Writing

I spent much of yesterday, the 4th of July, writing in a crowded park.  (Fireworks were scheduled for that night.)  I tend to write my drafts in pencil, then go home and enter it in my computer, making changes along the way. 

More than one person walking by stared at me.  These were not friendly looks.  They stared suspiciously, as if wondering what was wrong with me.  Maybe they thought everyone writes on tablets or laptops nowadays. 

Later, a gal who was busy texting almost walked into me as I sat writing on a park bench.  Her friend guided her away by her elbow, but she still texted, oblivious. 

I guess this is the point where I put on my Werner Herzog accent and ask:  Who here was truly out of it?  But I forgot my jacket, so I didn’t stay for the fireworks.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Adverbs are our Friends (Part I)

Supposedly, Mark Twain once said, “The adverb is the enemy of the verb.”  Most of the writing advice you’ll find online will echo that.  But when used properly, adverbs add color to language and make writing more interesting. 

But first, what mistakes have caused such animosity to this major part of speech? 

1) Overusing a favorite adverb.  If you (or your proofreader) notice you habitually use an adverb that adds nothing to your writing, e.g., realistically, probably, mostly, etc., then stringently avoid said adverb.  Keep a list by your computer of certain words to avoid. 

2) Piling on.  Beginning writers might add adverbs like really or very, thinking this strengthens the writing.  Strip away useless modifiers and see how much cleaner the writing looks. 

3) Using an ordinary verb and adverb, instead of a more particular verb.  This is the hardest lesson in trimming adverbs, requiring a good amount of thought to make a positive change.  Instead of writing “He walked quickly to the door,” use “He strode to the door,” or “He minced to the door,” whichever fits best.  Instead of writing “She sat lazily in the captain’s seat,” use “She sprawled in the captain’s seat.”  Instead of “The water splashed heavily onto my book,” use “The water spattered my book.” 

Are we good so far?  This should match all those online forums that tell you to trash most adverbs, but develop some discipline in avoiding these beginner's errors, and we can move on to reversing all three of these rules for certain effects, and then on to adding color to the language using adverbs.  


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