Thursday, June 30, 2011

Thirties Thursday

As William and Kate, or as they're known now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, begin their first North American tour, I thought I'd share a video of George VI and Queen Elizabeth's tour North American tour in 1939. Of course that tour was for a rather different purpose...

There is sound but it takes a few moments for it to kick in.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


It might start by wondering who would wear this...

or who would abandon a pair of these...

or why the door looks like this...

It could start with imagining a typical day for him...

or the adventures this team may have had...

Every question will lead to a this...

and you'll know it's time to reach for this.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

10 Signs You're Almost Finished

10. You can't remember the actual number of drafts you've written.

9. You question the placement of every plot point.

8. Although you're still in love with your main character, you're ready for a break.

7. Your writing seems tight one day and sloppy the next.

6. You're convinced this is the worst thing you've ever written.

5. You're hopeful this is the best thing you've ever written.

4. You're sure you've tied up all your plot lines, but you know in your heart there's one still out there...dangling.

3. You're on a first name relationship with your thesaurus. (Roget, my dear, come here!)

2. You're amazed by the conflicting urges to, on the one hand, cherish your manuscript, but on the other, to throw it up against a wall.

1. A new idea has evolved from being a small whisper in the back of your brain to a screaming banshee in the front.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Hide and Seek

There are the days when the writing goes well. I love those days. I want more of those days. For all those other days, however, here are a few ideas of where you might find your talent.

In the basement.
Clearing out clutter (where in heaven's name does it all come from?)can trigger a thought which gives me a hint of where my plot could go. Sometimes, of course, the thought is "Whatthe heck is this?"

In the kitchen.
Never underestimate the value of letting your mind wander while you're cooking. Warning:Don't let your mind wander too far, or you may discover (too late, of course) that you just substituted salt for sugar. Trust me, this is not wanted on the voyage.

In a book.
I've often found that reading other books in my genre will fire my imagination. However, if the book is very well written, this can also lead to fits of despair. Approach with caution - or at least, with your ego well- armed.

In bed.
No, I don't mean that. I don't write those sorts of books. I have found, though, that those first moments after I turn out the light are the perfect time to ask troublesome characters questions. If you ask them politely, it's amazing what they'll reveal.

In my notes.
If I'm really stuck, I'll go back to my initial notes that I wrote when I was first forming my plot. Many times, I'll discover something that, in the heat of actually writing the darned thing, I've forgotten completely. Sometimes, going back to the beginning of the process helps. Sometimes, it makes you want to eat a lot of cake.

Where do you look?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fun Friday

I was sent this a few days ago and I thought I'd share it with all of you. Have a great first weekend of summer, everyone in the northern hemisphere!


I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.

Gardening Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant..

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

There are two kinds of pedestrians: the quick and the dead.

Life is sexually transmitted

Health is merely the slowest possible rate at which one can die.

Health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing.

Have you noticed since everyone has a
phone camera these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.

All of us could take a lesson from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a bush fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here, and drink whatever comes out?"

Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there? I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its bum."

Why is there a
light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

If quizzes are quizzical, what are tests?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Thirties Thursday

Tuesday was the summer solstice. In honour of the coming season, here's a Silly Symphony cartoon created in 1930 celebrating summer.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sewing a Story

You've come up with an idea...

and you've chosen your characters...

and you have a space to create...


Plug in that machine...

and lay out your plot...

Remember you'll need plenty of these to keep everything straight...
(and yes, you might get a few pin pricks...)

But soon you'll have a beginning...

And a bit of a middle...

And a bit of an end...

Sure, there will be hiccups along the way...

And you might discover you've made three of these...

But sooner or later, you'll have a finished project.

Of course, mine looks like they did in 1935!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Reasons It all Evens Out in the End

10. There is never enough coffee.

9. The ideas come either too fast or not fast enough.

8. You will always be the worst critic you ever face.

7. You will use more imagination in coming up with excuses on why you're not writing than you will ever use in your writing. (or maybe that's just me)

6. There will be days when it seems every writer you're in touch with is more productive than you.


5. You will find something you've written that delights you and fills you with pride.

4. You will love all your characters; even the ones with serious issues.

3. You will find the courage to put your work in front of impartial eyes.

2. You will learn that somedays writing 100 words is a bigger triumph than writing 2500.

1. You will find that emergency supply of coffee that you hid behind the flour container. How did it get there? Never, ever ask.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Lurking at the Back

There is one in every house. Sometimes, there are two. Some are small, some are large. Some have drawers and some have orifices that spew ice and water.

The refrigerator. You were told it's a place to keep food fresh. They lied. It's a place where food goes to die.

You fill it every week with milk, cheese, salad ingredients and tubs of yogurt. There are jars of pickles and jam. But death lurks.

In the back.

If anything makes it to the back of the fridge, consider it useful as a lethal weapon. I had a jar of pickles (with one pickle floating ominously in the murky liquid) that stayed in the back formonths. Literally, months. It may have been longer, but I refuse to say. When I finally got rid of it, I'd swear it winked at me.

Then there are the mysterious containers; those opaque food-savers you bought thinking they'd be so useful. What evil creature lurks within? Beware. It is possible when you lift off the lid that slimy green hands will reach out and pull it back on. I tend to stay away from containers I can't see into. My logic is if I'm going to conduct scientific experiments, I may as well see what's going on.

Writers have refrigerators unique to them - it may be a desk drawer, or in your document list, or in a file cabinet, but it's that place where you've stashed that project that you'll get to later, or the one you got frustrated with.

At the bottom. You have to bend down (literally or figuratively) to get at it. Food makes you reach back, writing makes you reach down. Significant? Symbolic? Perhaps.

Gather your courage and reach down. Take it out. Open the lid. Yes, it might truly be a disaster - but you just might have invented penicillin.

You'll never know if you don't lift off that lid.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fun Friday

On Monday I posted about repetition, so today I'm repeating a post. This both amuses me and bookends my blog week neatly.

This is one I wish really did exist, just for its brutal honesty.

Sometimes, it just needs to be simple...

This is one bossy computer...

We've all had days like this...

Isn't this a no-brainer?

Oh dear...

Finally! A computer error message I understand!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thirties Thursday

Here's an amazing bit of film showing Edward VIII trooping the colour the one time he performed the duty as monarch. For those who don't know, this is a yearly ceremony which happens in June, marking the monarch's official birthday. The monarch gets an official birthday at the same time each year (unlike regular birthdays) in the hopes for good weather for the parade. Interestingly, Edward's birthday was actually in June, so the parade was only a few weeks off the actual date.


My apologies for the weird capital typing at the top of the post. I've tried numerous times to change it, but it stubbornly remains.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


Inspiration can come from anywhere...

It might be a view like this...
(who has walked down that street?)

Or spying this...
(what's in there?)

Or seeing this...

(Where's the other one? How could you lose a shoe?)

Or this...
(Was that the last donut?)

Or from driving down a road like this...

Or seeing the beauty in something as small as this...

And sometimes, just sometimes....

It comes from this...
Because, sometimes you can get a blog post from writing about not writing.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

10 Things that May have Happened to You

10. Flex your fingers. They're about to get a workout.

9. Place your hands in the correct position on the keyboard in preparation for the words you are about to type at breathless speed.

8. Those words are going to come. Any minute now.

7. Take a sip of coffee. Everyone knows you can't write when you're thirsty.

6. Replace your fingers.

5. Watch the cursor blinking at you. Try not take it personally.

4. Any minute now, you'll be typing.

3. Any minute.

2. Get out those notes you wrote down last night. Try to decipher what "Big-eared dog behind cabbage" might possibly mean. Obviously, it's code. You didn't realize you were that clever.

1. Re-flex those fingers. Every writer needs hope.

Monday, June 13, 2011



It happens all the time. We tell a story to our friends only to realize (probably as we're just reaching the end) that we've told this story to this same group of people before. It may be a good story, but no one needs to hear it over and over and over again.

I come upon this every time I go through first drafts - whether it's of a novel or a game. I've given the same clue more than once. Sometimes, it's way more than once. What's amusing is oftentimes it's not even that vital a clue - just something that stuck in my head.

But repetition sneaks onto our pages in many guises. I've found I have love affairs with certain words as I'm writing that first draft. This is when the 'search and replace' function gets used. Thank heaven for word-processing functions!

Another mask repetition wears is when you discover your characters tending to react to situations in the same way. There can be a surplus of eyes widening or shoulders shrugging or throat clearing. High nervous laughter can also litter your pages. Be aware. I've found knowing my characters can help avoid this pitfall - if I think about one characters and how he/she would react in character, it's usually unique unto them.

How do you avoid repetition?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fun Friday

This was sent to me the other day; it's just too good not to share. Enjoy.

These are from a book called Disorder in the American Courts , and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters that had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.

ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?

WITNESS: He said, "Where am I, Cathy"

ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?

WITNESS: My name is Susan!


ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?

WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.


ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?

WITNESS: No, I just lie there.


ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?


ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?

WITNESS: I forget.

ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?


ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?

WITNESS: We both do.




WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.


ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?

WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?


ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?

WITNESS: He's 20, much like your IQ.


ATTORNEY: Were you present when your picture was taken?

WITNESS: Are you shitting me?


ATTORNEY: So the date of conception (of the baby) was August 8th?


ATTORNEY: And what were you doing at that time?

WITNESS: Getting laid .


ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?


ATTORNEY: How many were boys?


ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?

WITNESS: Your Honor, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?


ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?

WITNESS: By death.

ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?

WITNESS: Take a guess.


ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?

WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard .

ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?

WITNESS: Unless the Circus was in town, I'm going with male.


ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice, which I sent to your attorney?

WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.


ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?

WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.


ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?



ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?

WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 PM .

ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?

WITNESS: If not, he was by the time I finished.


ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?

WITNESS: Are you qualified to ask that question?


And last:

ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?


ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?


ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?


ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?


ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?

WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.

ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?

WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.