Wednesday, March 31, 2010


I've never been all that good at sitting around with nothing to do. I've only been on forlough for three days, and I've already flowen the coupe. Yesturday, after I finished folding the laundry and vacuming, I decided to go to the beach. I was really rainy, and even hailed a few times, but my beach trip was still preferable to sitting around the house board.

I drove the 90 miles west from Portland to the coast, then since the weather didn't lend itself well to building sand castles or playing in the surf, I just turned south on 101 and drove for several hours enjoying the senery out the car window.

There were a few sun breaks long enough for me to get out and look around a bit. At one point I attempted to go for a walk on the beach. But the tide was super high (porbably because of all the rain). When one big wave came in, I had to race up the steps to a beachfront hotel to avoid getting caught in the water. The wave covered 100% of the sand. After that, I figured enjoying the view from my car's windshield was probably the way to go.

While I was driving, I also listened to "Juliet, Naked" by Nick Hornby. The more books of his I listen to, the more I find myself loving Nick Hornby. All of his novels are so different from one another. It seems the only unifying theme is that they are all highly entertaining. He creates very believable and interesting characters.

So I had a lovely day. And just to make my land locked readers jealous, here are a few pictures I took during the sunbreaks.

When I got home last night, my husband asked me "What are you doing tomorrow? Driving to Seattle?"
A trip to Seattle does sound like fun. But I think I'm going to be good and try to stay in town today. I'm thinking maybe a trip to the art museam this afternoon after doing some research at the university library might be a more prudent use of my time.
Joke of the Day
How can you tell if a chicken has ADD?
It gets distracted by that exciting yellow line, and doesn't make it across the road.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Call Me Domesti-Kate

Thanks to the crappy state of the economy, I am on furlough for the next two weeks. When I told my husband, the first thing he said was, "Great, now the house will be clean and there will be lots of really great food for dinner."

This may sound very chovenistic, but normally my husband totally wears the apron in our relationship. I'm not very good at noticing dirt. So when we are both working, my husband does more than 50% of the domestic work.

To my own credit, I did load the dishwasher and do two loads of laundry yesterday. But I also went to the library and got 14 books about Ancient Peobloans. At the end of this furlough, I doubt our house will be any cleaner than it was last week. But hopefully I will have made a big dent in my research for this book I'm trying to write.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Vocabulary the Pest

Over the past few years, I’ve done a pretty good job of familiarizing myself with the young adult book market. But the new historical fiction series I’m starting stars a nine year old, not a sixteen year old. So now on top of brushing up on my archeology, I also have to learn about the exciting world of children’s literature.

After visiting a couple of bookstores and doing some on-line research, it appears that children’s books fall into three basic catigories. First there are picture books. Then there are “early reader” chapter books. These books are typically 3,000 to 10,000 words and contain very simple and repetitive language. Even though the text is divided into short chapters, there are often illustrations on almost every page. These books are geared towards children just starting to read on their own, typically between kindergarden and second grade.

After the “early readers”, books jump directly to “middle grade”. Middle Grade books are described as being for 9-12 year olds. They are books for tweens and often involved middle school aged characters, think Harry Potter. MG books can be as short as 25,000 words, but often extend to 45,000 words or more.

Since I hope to have my series star a nine year old, it was originally hard to tell where my series would fit. Is it an early reader or middle grade? I desided to search for other well known books with 8-10 year old characters. After visiting multiple book stores, I can attest that “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”, “Harriet the Spy”, “Amber Brown is Not a Crayon”, and “How to Eat Fried Worms” can all be found in the middle grade section.

To give myself an idea of what type of language is used in these books, I picked up a bunch of younger spectrum MG books to examine sentence structure, word length, ect. I started out by reading Beverly Cleary’s classic, “Beezus and Ramona”. Naturally the first thing I noticed was that Ramona is a gazillion times cooler than Beezus. I actually pity any kid that identifies with Beezus. No nine year old should be that uptight.

The second thing that I noticed while reading “Beezus and Ramona” was how difficult the story was to read. There were many complex compound sentances that strung together so many clauses I had to stop and go back in order to figure out what was happening. I have to admit that as a child I was a huge Ramona fan. I loved Ramona. I wanted to be Ramona. And I eagerly listened to every Ramona tale my parents were willing to read me. But I think this reading of “Beezus and Ramon” last weekend may have been the first time I ever successfully read a Beverly Clearly book to myself.

In “Beezus and Ramona” the character of Beezus is nine and the character of Ramona is four. I remember my parents reading me Ramona books before bed when I was in kindergarden. And I expect most second and third graders would love to read about Beezus and Ramona on their own, assuming they can decode all the words. But this book doesn’t just have long complex sentances. It also has tons of multisylabic words. Beezus is constantly getting exasperated with Ramona. Seriously, how many seven year olds do you know that even know what exasperated means? And how many of them would want to keep reading after they found that word on the second page of a novel about a four year old?

I am extreamly dyslexic, and obviously had a different early reading experience than the average child. When I was in second grade, I didn’t know the alphabet and wasn’t reading anything. Still, I’m sure I wouldn’t have been capable of decoding “Beezus and Ramon” until I was well into high school. I don’t think I ever fell more than five or six years below grade level, so I seriously doubt there are very many modern second and third graders who can read this book without difficulty. I still remember shedding tears as an eleven year old when I continued to struggle and fail to read about Ramona.

I know many people think putting large words in children’s literature helps kids develop vocabulary. But I still think authors writing for young readers should think about readability when considering word selection. Forget about the agrivation of a pesky little sister. I can tell you, there is nothing more exasperating for an early reader than being unable to unlock your favorite book. I loved Ramona Quimby as a kid. I still love her now. She’s quirky and funny and overflowing with life. But Beverly Cleary was my least favorite author as a kid. I hated not being able to read her books more than all the others.

Obviously, kids today want stories more exciting than “See spot run.” But I would like to make a promise to all my future readers. I will never use the word exasperate in a novel whose intended audience is under the age of ten. I will limit my sentances to two clauses. And I will consider both familiarity and phonix when using words with more than three sylables.

Joke of the Day
Why is monosylabic such a long word?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Modern Story Telling

This past week I had the last class in my 10 week writing class. I haven’t blogged much about the class, ‘cause I generally find other peoples notes on writing classes boring and figured nobody cared.

But this morning I was reading Steph In The City’s blog about how nobody reads books anymore and everyone watches movies, and it made me think about my writing class. The purpose of the class was plotting. Students brought in outlines and talked about holes in story structure. The idea is that simply workshopping scenes doesn’t do any good, if that scene doesn’t belong in the story to begin with.

But here is the real crux of the class. The teacher, Marc Acito, began by lecturing on the basic three act format of movies. Screen plays are very formulaic. Sure they can have any number of plot lines, but they always start with an establishing shot, then about 5% of the way into the story there is an away we go moment. Then 25% of the way in there is a huge left turn (Start of Act 2). The point of no return comes at the stories midpoint. Then at the 75% point all hope is lost (Start of Act 3). The climax happens about 95% of the way in and the final details are wrapped up in the last few minutes.

It doesn’t matter if you are watching an action movie, a romantic comedy, or a Disney cartoon. That is the formula for which all movies are based. If a screen play doesn’t follow the 3 act structure, it wont find a major producer. Marc’s idea is that since movies are the major medium through which stories are currently told, a book is more likely to resonate with a reader if it follows this structure.

I actually think that he’s right. When I read classics that have tons of backstory, or drag out long after the climax, it tends to agrivate me. They are often really good stories, but are told in a format that no longer resinates. We are now a people who see the world via the silver screen, and have a hard time comprehending stories told in other formats.

That being said, I’ve all but completely given up on movie watching. There was once a time when I watched tons of movies, when I would have already seen every film nominated for an achedimy award. But that time is long past. I almost never go to the movie theater and simply wait for things to come out on video. I belong to netfilx, but I don’t have cable, so I find myself mainly order dvd’s of TV shows. I typically read (or listen to) 20 books per month. But I rairly watch more than two movies per month.

When a movie comes out that is based on a book, the added media attention often clues me in that I should check out the book. But it never makes me want to see the movie. If given the choice between a book and a movie, I know the book is always better. The only time I ever watch movies based on books is when I’ve read and loved the book and want to see what they did with the movie version. Naturally this always leaves me feeling very disapointed.

What do you think? Am I alone on my solitary island of perfering books to movies? Or will others come back around and discover that no amount of CGI can compete with your own imagination?

Joke of the Day
A clear conscience is a sign of a bad memory.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hey You Guys

I’m busy researching the native peoples who lived in cliff dwellings in the Colorado Plato 800 years ago. I plan to feature these people in the first installment of the time traveling children’s adventure series I hope to write.

So far, the most difficult problem I’ve found is trying to figure out what to call these native people. The historic word used to discribe them is Anasazi. This term has recently gone out of fassion. It is a Navajo word that means “ancient enemy”. Pollitical correctness dictates that we can’t call these people enemy, so the term Ancient Puebloan has been applied instead.

I find it very entertaining that a Spanish term has been used to replace an un-politically correct native term. I guess the justification is that the Ancient Puebloans moved out of their cliff dwellings about 700 years ago, and Europeans didn’t arrive in this continent until 200 years later. So the Spanish were never the “enemy” of these people, they just oppressed their decendents.

So who are the decendants of these ancient people? Clearly not the Navajo. The Navajo are actually Athabaskan people, and are very closely related to the Chippeway. The Navajo didn’t migrate from the Northeast to the Southwest until after European settlers began moving into the Northeast in large numbers. So the Spanish may have actually arrived on the Colorado Plato before the Navajo.

The people that did desend from the ancient cliff dwellers are the Hopi, Taos, Zuni, Keres, and other modern Puebloan peoples. The most logical term used to discribe the ancient cliff dwellers is “Hisatsinom”, which means “ancestor” in Hopi. The problem is that calling the Ancient Peobloean people “Hisatsimom” would liguistically exclude the Taos, Zuni, and others from their lineage. So for the time being the politically correct term for a native peoples who “disappeared” centuries before Europeans arrived on this continent is Spanish.

Here is another fun names for native peoples fact I’ve learned. The term “Navajo” is a Hopi word that means “newcomers”. It’s not quite as bad as “enemy” but it’s still a big streatch from “Dine” the word the Navajo use for themselves, which means “the people”.

I have no idea what I’m going to call the people in my book once I get around to writing it. But I am having a good time learning about them.

Joke of the Day
New evidence has come out to prove that dog is man's best friend. Put your dog, your cat, and your spouce in the trunk of your car and drive around for an hour. Then open the trunk and see which one is happy to see you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Characters Gone Wild

The debate of what is “apropriate" in YA literature will never end. Personally, I don’t have a problem with edgy topics – when they are handled properly. People make mistakes, it’s a big part of being human and a huge part of growing up. Smart people learn not only from their own mistakes but also from the mistakes of others. If a kid sees their older sibling suffer the consiquences of poor choices, hopefully they will be less likely to make the same choices when they come of age.

Similarly, a well written book can shed light on the reality of teenage behavior. That doesn’t mean YA books should be preachy, it just means that when a character makes poor choices they should experience the uncomfortable consiquences in a natural way. Some of the best YA books I’ve ever read have covered topics as “edgy” as eating disorders, drug/alcohol addiction, teen sex, death of a loved one, rape, and suicide. The books that I do have a problem, are the books that present a world view saying these things are okay. Bad behavior shouldn’t be rewarded.

I recently read an article Bad Romance (or, YA & Rape Culture) that explains in great detail how the book Hush, Hush teaches teen readers that rape is okay. When I read the book, I never found myself thinking about rape, but I did find myself hating Nora. She was the classic “to stupid to live” character. Her life was literally in dange, someone tired to killer her multiple times thoughout the story, and she didn’t do anything about it.

Nora lived in an issolated farm house on the outskirts of town. Her single mom had to travel for work, so Nora was often left home alone for weeks at a time. When her killer/staulker starts appearing in her bedroom, she didn’t tell her mom. Why? Because then her mom would want to quit her job and they might even have to move into town. Wouldn’t those be good things? The article I linked to gives lots of great examples about how Nora’s improper dealings with scary lab partner/suspected killer reinforce rape culture.

The crazy thing is that Hush, Hush is a very popular book. It hasn’t quite reached Twilight status, but it’s getting there. And it’s the first book in a series. In a few years dark angles may replace vampires as the paranormal heart throbs in vogue. I have to admit that I read Hush, Hush in one sitting. It is very gripping, and managed to keep me up until 2:00 am. All that danger and distruction did encourage me to keep reading. It wasn’t until I finished the book that I stopped to think, “Wow, I really hated that heroine. In fact, I kind of wish she had died. It would have served her right.”

My feeling that a stupid heroine deserves to die, might not be to far from the idea that a stupid girl deserves to be raped. And I don’t think that. If this was real life, I wouldn’t think Nora deserved to die either. I just think this book did a very bad job of realistically showing the consiquences of poor choices. If Nora had been raped or maimed, or somehow forced to suffer from her lack of self preservation instincts, at least that would send a message to readers – hey don’t act like this. Instead, she escapes the pearls surrounding her to make room for a sequil. And the only lesson learned is that scary deadly dark angles are hot.

Joke of the Day
A schoolgirl was thrilled when she found a book in the library called How to Hug?
It turned out to be volume eight of an encyclopedia.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Nap Time

The news that Spain is considering making the siesta an official national cultural tradition is a bit of a joke. Animal activists perposed the idea after a resent move to elevate the status of bull fighting. But the nappers may be onto something. Perhaps the rest of the world should follow Spain’s lead and start napping more frequently.

A resent study from Berkley shows that napping increases brain functioning. Perhaps if we all napped for an hour or two after lunch we would be more productive during the final hours of the afternoon.

The brain is a muscle. When it is overstressed, it gets tired, just like any other muscle in the body. And a good strong brain workout should cause just as much fatigue as a trip to the gym. Napping is then the body’s way of resting the well excersized brain muscle.

Personal experience tells me that the connection between nap-time and cognative development is real. As a dyslexic child, reading always made me extreamly sleepy. I would try and try and try to sound words out. Then I would need a nap. After I took the SAT, I think I slept for about a week.

My grandmother has recently begun to show evidence of the need to nap as well. She has alsimers disease, and has slowly been loosing her memory for about ten years. At a recent appointment with her doctor, my grandfather mensioned that she has been napping for several hours everyday. The doctor didn’t think this was any sign of a physical problem. Instead he reminded my grandfather that my grandmother is constantly excersizing her brain muscle as she tries to remember minor details of her life. It’s no wonder she’s so sleepy.

My grandmother recently moved from an independent living apartment in a retirement home to an assisted living apartment in the health center of her retirement home. In her new apartment she is in a less stressful environment, where she is not required to remember as many aspects of day to day life. The result – less naps. As early as a week after moving into her new place, my grandmother stopped requiring as many naps.

So if you don’t need a siesta every afternoon, does it mean you’re so smart that your brain can handle any task you throw at it? Or does it mean you’re so lazy, you’re barely even breaking a cognitive sweat? I’m with Spain on this one. I say, lets start thinking, and lets start napping. Who’s got a pillow?

Joke of the Day

A patient went to see the doctor and had a series of tests run. The doctor came back with the results and said, “Well, it’s not good. I have bad news, and I have worse news.”

“Oh no,” said the patient. “Give me the worse news first.”

“You have advanced liver cancer. I expect that you have about six weeks left to live.”

“Oh my goodness, that’s horrible. What’s the bad news?”

“You have alsimers,” said the doctor.

“Yeah, that is bad news. But at least I don’t have a terminal illness.”

Sunday, March 21, 2010

My Perfect Life

I may be thirty years old, but I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. There is one fictional future that I’ve thought about a lot over the years, and recently I’ve decided to just go for it.

So here is a little background on what my life has looked like for the last 30 years. I’m dyslexic and spent most of my early education generally sucking at all things literary. Math and science don’t require much reading, so I always excelled in both areas in school. When I went to college I thought I was going to do pre-med or pre-engineering or maybe just majoring in something highly practical like math.

Then I started taking humanities classes and found out how utterly fasinating they were. A big part of me wanted to be an English major. But I could bearly read, and had to get all my text books on tape. Listening my way through the random English class was one thing, but actually majoring in English without reading felt way to much like cheating. So I majored in anthropology instead. Anthropology is a very fascinating subject. I’m very interested in people and how they tick and loved the puzzle of uncovering ancient cultures through archeology.

I thought about getting a PHD in archeology. But most of my interest was in stone age & bronze age sites, and for general safety reasons moving to the middle east in 2001 didn’t seem like the best life plan. On top of that, I always had this nagging voice in the back of my head that I was selling myself short.

Math and science always came easy to me. And reading clearly didn’t. What if I had the ability to discover some great scientific breakthrough. Would it be fair to humanity to waste that talent on a social science? I know this sounds very egotistical, but at age 21, these were the thoughts in my head.

So a year after I graduated from college, I re-inrolled and earned myself a second degree. This time in civil engineering. I’m glad that I forced myself to give math a serious try. Mainly because it showed me that I’m not all that special. There are a lot of people who could never be engineers, who can’t comprehend linear algebra, and just playing don’t get physics. But there are also a lot of people who can. I’m smart enough to be an engineer. I spent less time studying in engineering school then I did in my anthropology days. And I’ve been gainfully employed as an engineer ever since I graduated. But I know lots of engineers who think in a more scientific way than I do. I’m never going to uncover some great scientific breakthrough. Really, as far as science nerds go, I’m pretty average.

Lately I’ve been entertaining myself by writing YA novels during my free-time. It seems like a nice marrage of my two halfs. I get paid to work as an engineer, and I still have a creative outlet. But when I grow up, I don’t really want to be an engineer or a part time YA novelest. When I grow up, I want to write archeology based children’s adventure stories.

There is this series that I’ve had in my head for years, about this time traveling nine year old who stumbles upon ancient ruins and artifiacts and is then wisked back in time to discover the hidden cultures of the forgotten past. It would be so fun to write that. Way more fun then being a normal archeologist. Way more fun than any other life I can think of for myself. I could travel around the country/world visiting archeology sites, researching ancient cultures, and interviewing scientists. Then I could write books about them for elementry school kids, and skip the tedium of spending decades shifting through the dirt.

So I’m just going to go for it. This summer I’m going on a road trip, and am putting Mesa Verde on my list of stops. In the mean time I’m doing all the internet and library research I can about the ancestrial puebloan people who lived in the Colorado plato 800 years ago. Everything I’ve written up until now has been easy and research free. Writing historical fiction for kids wont be easy and it definitely wont be research free. But it will be me. It’s a perfect blend of my roughts in archeology, my maticiulous engineer’s ability to track detail, and my imaginative writers side. I finally know what I want to be when I grow up. And I’m so excited to get started.

Joke of the Day
A budist munk walked up to a hotdog vender and order a dog with everything. The hotdog vendor took a twenty dollar bill from the munk and handed him his hotdog. "That hotdog only cost $3, and I handed you a 20. Don't I get any change?"
The hotdog vendor looked up at the munk and said, "Change comes from within."

Friday, March 19, 2010

What I See In My Crystal Ball

Even though I gobble up audio books like candy, I still have a lot of real books. Growing up I always liked the idea of one day having a “library”. Yeah, it turns out I have more books than can fit in a single room, so there are book cases in pretty much every room of my house.

Of all the books that I own, my favorite is called “The Children of 2002”. It’s a children’s book that was written in 1902 that predicts the future of how kids will live in the new melenium. There are lots of steam powered flying cars and other complex gadgets still based in old technology. It’s like the original steampunk. Obviously, it’s an awesome book.

I have no idea what kind of gadgets the kids of 2110 will grow up with. And everything I can predict is based on computer technology that will be obsilete in a couple of decades. Still, I feel very comfortable predicting the future of books.

In 2110, I expect very few people will have a “home library” and floor to ceiling bookcases in multiple rooms, that will be about as common as travel by zepilin. Why, because like it or not, e-books are going to change the world.

The rise of digital media is about as drastic a change as Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Newspapers and magezines are rapidly becoming obsolete as more and more people get their news online. And even though e-books currently make up 3-5% of the market share, I expect that by 2020 they will make up more than 50%. And by 2110, 99%. Just consider this. iTunes was launched in April of 2003, 7 years ago. Now tell me when was the last time you bought a CD? I think I bought my last CD about 6 years ago.

I’ve had a kindle for about 7 months. The number of paper books I read hasn’t dropped all that much. I’m still gifted books that I want to read, and there is a Border’s a block away from my office that sucks me in on more lunch breaks than it probably should. The real surprise is how much more I read period.

Anyone who reads this blog knows I listen to an average of 3-5 books per week. But since I got my kindle, I’m also reading an average of 1 e-book per week on top of that. But I rarely read more than 2 paper books a month.

I just keep my kindle in my perse and pull it out whenever I have some downtime. I don’t have to head to the bookstore, or my home library to find something to read. I can buy a new book and have it delivered to me in 30 seconds. So if I finish a book half way through my commute (I commute by train) I can buy and start a new book imedately.

They say that like 20% of the population reads 80% of the books. I may read/listen to 100+ books per year, but there are a lot of people out there who read 2 books per year. It may take a long time for the very sparatic readers to get e-readers. Probably that wont happen until every phone comes with an e-reader app. But I expect within the next 5-10 years at least 75% of the people who read 50+ books per year will own an e-reader. And once that happens, e-books will make up the largest chunk of the book market. And Walmart can cover the rest.

Joke of the Day
Why did the librarian slip and fall on the library floor?
Because she was in the non-friction section.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

The Ultimate Taboo

I am not easily offended. In everyday life, it takes a lot to ruffle my feathers. It also takes a lot to offend me in literiture. I read and enjoy books with bad language, teen sex, drug and alcohol abuse, ect. I’ve read enough mysteries and thrillers, that the random appearance of a dead body doesn’t faze me. When it’s well written, I don’t even mind stories that deal with rape or suicide. But the one subject I simply cannot stomach is the murder of children. More spacifically children murdering children.

My least favorite book of all time is LORD OF THE FLY’S. When I read it as a teenager, the story haunted me for months. Even now, a decade and a half later, thinking about the sacrifice of Piggy puts a bad taste in my mouth. The idea presented in LORD OF THE FLY’S, that civilization is only a thin mask over savage human tendancies and a group of children stranded on an island would instictually turn to canabalism, goes against every fiber of my belief system. I genuinely wish William Golding never wrote that book.

I cannot and will not belief that it is natural or instinctual for humans to savagely kill one another. The natural tendancy to come together and for relationships is the reason civilizations have rizen in the first place. And the instinct to protect the safety and interests not of ones self, but of ones loved ones, rests at the very core of humanity.

So, naturally, I was shocked when I recently read THE HUNGER GAMES. All I knew going into the story was that it is imensly popular. That it’s doing for YA/SciFi what Twilight did for YA/Paranormal. I did not expect to find this generation’s LORD OF THE FLY’S. In THE HUNGER GAMES, instead of a group of British school boys getting stranded on an island, a futuristic oppressive government creates an arenea and throws a group of children into it to fight to the death as a form of entertainment.

The question in THE HUNGER GAMES becomes, “Will the young heroine, Katniss, be able to fight and kill other children to keep herself alive?” Sadly the answer is yes. In this best selling children’s book, young Katniss brutilly murders other children in order to save herself. To give the author Suzanne Collins some credit, Katniss also fights to protect her friends. And she comes to realize that her true enamies aren’t the other children in the arena, but the adults the invented the hunger games and created the arena.

I did have the flu when I read this book. Still I hope I’m not the only person who’s body wretched and vomited while reading this savagry. I hope THE HUNGER GAMES haunts today’s teens as much as LORD OF THE FLY’S haunted me in my youth. I hope I’m not the only person who understands there is nothing natural or instinctual about children murdering other children. I hope that humanity can keep this the ultimate taboo.

Joke of the Day
I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?"
She answered, "If I tell you, it will defeat the purpose."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Happy St. Pattrick’s Day. When thinking about what Irish related topic I wanted to post on today, I got to thinking about the Artimas Fowl series. They are set in Ireland – well Ireland and the center of the earth. Since all the lepricon’s have moved into the center of the earth to avoid the mud people (humans). The think I want to say about Artimas Fowl is it’s introduction to the elfin sware word d’arvit.

Avoiding potty language in kids books is always entertaining to me. I don’t mind when fowl language appears in YA novels at approprate times. If a character is set up to be a bully or a jerk and is yelling at someone, and occational nasty word thrown into dialog seems realistic. And it’s not like teens don’t already know these words.

But I often find myself enjoying the new and made up curse words. These tend to feel vary authentic when said by frustrated kids who don’t like to get in trouble. Cursing out a friend at school may earn a kid detention, that they don’t want. So why not invent a new way to get one’s point across without resorting to f-bombs.

In Artimas Fowl, the elves all said d’arvit all the time. It was never translated, but clearly not a nice thing to say. When not dealing with supernatural creatures, I enjoy the use of French vulgarity. People often say, “Pardon my French”. So why not actually sprinkle in a few merde, pute, and chiant’s?

Here are a few more PG exclatives that I enjoy.

Holy Shiite Muslim!
Son of a Hampster!
What the Hellen Keller?
Oh my gobstoppers!

What’s your favorite kid friendly curse word?

Joke of the Day
An aging man lived alone in Ireland. His only son was in Long Kesh Prison, and he didn't know anyone who would spade up his potato garden. The old man wrote to his son about it, and received this reply, "For HEAVENS SAKE, don't dig up that garden, that's where I buried the GUNS!!!!!"At 4 A.M. the next morning, a dozen British soldiers showed up and dug up the entire garden, but didn't find any guns.
Confused, the man wrote to his son telling him what happened and asking him what to do next.
His son's reply was: "Just plant your potatoes.”

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

When Life Parallels Fiction – In a Bad Way

So my current WIP is called BROKEN. It’s about a teenage girl who suffers a serious sports injury and ends up having the rest of her life fall apart as well. In the end when all the king’s horses and all the king’s men put her back together again, she’s not the person she used to be.

I’m enough of a cluts to have been hurt before. And writing about pain hasn’t been all that difficult. But I am fortunate enough to need to draw back on old memories. It’s been almost a decade since my last major life altering injury.

But last weekend, my husband broke his foot. This injury isn’t going to change his life forever. It was a clean break, and he should be fine in a month. Plus he has a desk job, so the only negative effect it will have is on his hobbies.

Still, I feel bad for the guy. He’s normally a very active person, and I know taking up perminate residence on the couch is killing him. And to make matters worse, I keep trying to harvest story ideas from him. “Okay, describe in detail exactly what if felt like when you broke your foot. How did you react? What went through your head? What were the physical reactions to the rest of your body?” Maybe I’m not the best nurse in the world.

Joke of the Day
A guy lost both his left arm and his left leg in a car crash.
He's all right now.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Over Share

One of my favorite TV shows is House. One of the recent episodes featured a sick blogger. This blogger put every detail of her life in her blog. So the doctors were able to dicnose her illness by reading her blog and finding clues to here simptoms there.

I’m normally not one to over share, and I try to keep the personal anticdotes I put in my blog to a minimum. But I was really sick all of last week. This lead to me cutting back the number of posts I did. But maybe I should have been sharing all the exciting details of the 168 hour flu. Maybe I didn’t have gastroenteritis like my doctor said. Maybe I had some other crazy desease and it will only be discovered if I over share in this blog.

So here are the details you don’t want to hear. Drunk sorority girls really know what’s up. It’s important to have someone hold your hair back while worshiping the porcilin gods. I got puke in my hair last week, and it was discusting!

Lower on the grows factor. It is possible to survive for a week eating nothing but dry toast. And if you pick playing enough toast it doesn’t taste so bad on the way back up. My first, I think I’m better now, meal was spaggetti. Marinara sause does not taste good on the way back up.

Aren’t you glad I over shared?

Joke of the Day
Hello. Welcome to the Psychiatric Hotline

If you are obsessive-compulsive, please press 1 repeatedly.
If you are co-dependent, please ask someone to press 2.
If you have multiple personalities, please press 3, 4, 5, and 6.
If you are paranoid-delusional, we know who you are and what you want. Just stay on the line so we can trace the call.
If you are schizophrenic, listen carefully and a little voice will tell you which number to press.
If you are manic-depressive, it doesn't matter which number you press. No one will answer.
If you are anxious, just start pressing numbers at random.
If you are phobic, don't press anything.
If you are anal retentive, please hold.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Wintergirls Review

Title: Wintergirls

Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Publisher: Speak
My Rating: 5 Stars

Summary from Bookbrowse: “Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.

“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.

I am that girl.

I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.

I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

In her most emotionally wrenching, lyrically written book since the multiple-award-winning Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson explores Lia’s descent into the powerful vortex of anorexia, and her painful path toward recovery.

My Review: This is one of the most powerful stories I've ever read. It is told from the point of view of an 85 pound anorexic girl shortly after her best friend dies of bolimia. Lia is obsessed with food, and the story is told from her lyrical crazy voice that makes all her obsessions seem honest and believable. Cassie's ghost haunts Lia throughout the story, tempting her to commit fully to her personal hunger strike and join her best friend in death. Only when Lia is on the brink of her own death does she realize choising to eat is choosing to live.

There are lots of YA novels that tackle serious issues. But this is the only book I've ever read that I honestly believe could save a girls life. It should be required reading at every eating disorder clinic. But more importantly, it should be required reading at every junior high school, so girls can see the reality of eating disorders before they become wintergirls.

Personally, I love to eat. And I still loved this story. It is a told from an often silent voice, that deserves to be heard. I would recomend this book to anyone and everyone.

Joke of the Day
What's another word for thesarouos?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Run Over By a Truck

I'm sick, and if I write more than a couple sentances I'm just going to whine at you. Yesturday, I never made it out of bed to blog. Today I'm up, but barely. I think I'm just going to go back to bed now. Maybe I'll have something worthwile to post tomorrow. If I'm still alive.

Joke of the Day
One afternoon, a man went to his doctor and told him that he hasn't been feeling well lately. The doctor examined the man, left the room, and came back with three different bottles of pills.
The doctor said, "Take the green pill with a big glass of water when you wake up. Take the blue pill with a big glass of water after you eat lunch. Then just before going to bed, take the red pill with another big glass of water."
Startled to be put on so much medicine, the man stammered, "Jeez Doc, exactly what is my problem?"
The doctor replied, "You're not drinking enough water."

Friday, March 5, 2010

How to Write Good

1. Always avoid annoying alliteration.
2. Never use a long word when a diminutive one will do.
3. Employ the vernacular.
4. Eschew ampersands & abbreviations, etc.
5. Parenthetical remarks (however relevant) are unnecessary.
6. Remember to never split an infinitive.
7. Contractions aren't necessary.
8. Foreign words and phrases are not apropos.
9. One should never generalize.
10. Eliminate quotations. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "I hate quotations. Tell me what you know."
11. Comparisons are as bad as cliches.
12. Don't be redundant; don't use more words than necessary; it's highly superfluous.
13. Be more or less specific.
14. Understatement is always best.
15. One-word sentences? Eliminate.
16. Analogies in writing are like feathers on a snake.
17. The passive voice is to be avoided.
18. Go around the barn at high noon to avoid colloquialisms.
19. Even if a mixed metaphor sings, it should be derailed.
20. Who needs rhetorical questions?
21. Exaggeration is a billion times worse than understatement.
22. Don't never use a double negation.
23. capitalize every sentence and remember always end it with point
24. Do not put statements in the negative form.
25. Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
26. Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
27. If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
28. A writer must not shift your point of view.
29. And don't start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
30. Don't overuse exclamation marks!!
31. Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to the irantecedents.
32. Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
33. If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
34. Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
35. Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
36. Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
37. Always pick on the correct idiom.
38. The adverb always follows the verb.
39. Prepositions are not words to end sentences with.
40. No sentence fragments.
42. Also too, never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
43. Use words correctly, irregardless of how others use them.
44. If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times: Resist hyperbole; not one writer in a million can use it correctly.
45. Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; They're old hat; seek viable alternatives.

Joke of the Day
See entire post.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

I Officially Rock

My blog won an award. I can’t believe it. I didn’t think anyone actually read this. And to make things even better, it’s the 10 Happy’s Award. As the winner of this award, I’m supposed to list ten things that make me happy, then post links to other blogs that make me happy that I want to besto this award onto.

I would like to start by thanking the good people at Camp Kahdalea (where I spent several summers in my youth). I don’t think any Kahdalea people read this blog, and I’m sure the camp director didn’t invent this award. But at camp, the words “Give me 10 Happy’s” inflicted terror into every camper’s ear that heard them.
Punishment for saying a “non-camp word” (i.e. any swear word, or other insult that was intended to break down the loving accepting nature of camp) was 10 happy’s. The speaker of the non-camp word would have to do ten push ups while saying a happy word with each push-up. Rainbows, and butterflies were universally accepted to be the first two happy’s. The remaining eight were often chosen to butter up the enforcing councelor, so future happy’s wouldn’t be given.

So here are my 10 happy’s:

Audio books
Spell check
You (If you are reading this, you make me happy)
Camp (I don’t go there anymore, but the novel I’m querying is called CAMP LIFE so obviously I still think about it. And it can’t be left off a 10 Happy’s list.)

Now to pass my award on to future recipents. I guess I should start by saying who gave it to me. That would be Matt over at Pensive Sarcasm. Matt is actually desperately trying to make it to 100 followers. If you become his 100th follower you will win a price, as will the person who told you about his blog (i.e. me). But since he already has 79 followers, and I only have 39, I doubt I’ll be winning the referral award. Still, his blog is filled with happiness and joy, so you should check it out.

The blogs that make me happy are:

Girl About Town by Genevieve. Gen has been really bad about posting lately, but she’s in my writing critique group and one of my best friends. So I’m awarding her anyway. Maybe now that her blog’s a winner, she will start posting again. No pressure or anything Gen.

Somnambulist Zine by Martha. Martha has cushing disease, which isn’t very happy. But she’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met, and her Freak Atlis does a good job of shedding a new light on pituitary disorders. Hopefully her brain surgery will go well. That would be happy.

Livre Diva by Maryweather. Right now I’m the only follower of Maryweather’s blog. That just seems tragic. You guys need to go check her out. Maryweather is in my writing class, and generally fabulous. Being her friend makes me happy.

Jon’s Life or Other Odd People Doing Odd Things. Jon just started blogging like two months ago, and he’s suddenly all over the internet. His posts are always quiet sparkly, and his enthusiasm definately makes me happy.

Watch Me Practice by Tina. She reads, she writes, she even spells stuff right. And her posts never make me sad.

Joke of the Day
Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Once Upon A Time…

The first sentance of a novel is the most important. It’s the first thing a reader is going to look at. And if it sucks, there is a good chance your potential reader wont make it to the second sentance. Here are a few opening lines I enjoy. What is your favorite opening line?

The guy walking towards me is good-looking in an obnoxious way, like he’d play the hot jerk in a TV movie about why drunk driving is bad or how it doesn’t pay to cheat on the SATs. (Wherever Nina Lies by Lynn Weingarten)

By 1899, we had learned to tame the darkness but not the Texas heat. (The Evolution of Capernia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly)

So she tells me, the words dribbling out with the cranberry muffin crumbs, commas dunked in her coffee. (Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson)

I lie all the time. (Naomi and Ely’s No Kiss List by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan)

Some memories are slippery. (Sweethearts by Sara Zarr)

My plan was to focus my senior year on information I could use after graduation when I set out for Planet Earth from the Pluto that is Trout, Idaho Population 943. (Deadline by Chris Crutcher)

Oh crap. (How to Not Be Popular by Jennifer Ziegler)

If things had been different, I’d be called Nataliya or Natasha, and I’d have a Russian accent and chapped lips year round. (Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin)

They call me King Dork. (King Dork by Frank Portman)

My sister Cass ran away the morning of my sixteenth birthday. (Dreamland by Sarah Dessen)

“That’s the worst idea I ever heard.” (Going Too Far by Jennifer Echols)

Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling)

It was 7 minutes after midnight. (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon)

Snowman wakes before dawn. (Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood)

Everyone thinks it was because of the snow. (If I Stay by Gayle Forman)

The secret is how to die. (The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown)

It’s hard to imagine what my parents were thinking when they decided to name me Shakespeare. (Spanking Shakespeare by Jake Wizner)

The best day of my life happened when I was five and almost died at Disney World. (Going Bovine by Libba Bray)

I’ve never been to a funeral until today. (I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder)

I was born with water on the brain. (The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie)

I had two goals that summer; to get the lead in the camp play and to get to third base. (Camp Life by Me, yet to be published)

Joke of the Day
A Fruadian slip is when you say something but you mean your mother.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Lamb by Christopher Moore

Over the past year I’ve blogged a lot about the numberous books that I listen to or read. When averaging five books per week, it often seems that books are the only thing on my mind. But I haven’t really done official book reviews before. I also haven’t blogged on Tuesdays before. I’ve been doing the blogging three days a week on MWF thing for a while now.

Well, I’ve desided to try more official book reviews, which should give me enough to say to up my blogging frequency to five times a week. If you all hate my reviews, let me know and I’ll cut back to three days a week. So let us begin.

Title: Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff
Author: Christopher Moore
Publisher: Harper Collins (Feb 4, 2003)
My Rating: 4 stars

Back Cover: The birth of Jesus has been well chronicled, as have his glorious teachings, acts, and divine sacrifice after his thirtieth birthday. But no one knows about the early life of the Son of God, the missing years - except Biff, the Messiah's best bud, who has been resrrected to tell the story in this divinely hilarious yet heartfelt work "reminiscent of Vonnegut and Douglas Adams" (Philadelphia Inquire).

Verily, the story Biff has to tell is a miraculous one, filled with remarkable journeys, magic, healing, kung fu, corpse reanimation, demons, and hot babes. Even the considerable wiles and devotion of the Savior's pal may not be enough to divert Joshua from his tragic destiny. But there's no one who loves Josh more - except maybe "Maggie", Mary of Magdala - and Biff isn't about to let his extrodinary pal suffer and ascend without a fight.

My Review: I liked this book, but I didn’t love it. It’s funny, in a sacriligious tongue in cheek kind of way that I expected to love. I’ve read a few other Christopher Moore books and generally think of him as a top notch humorist. I do recommend Lamb and am glad that I got a chance to listen to it. But since I didn’t love it, I’ll list the hang up I had with it.

The story primarily focuses on the first 30 years of Jesus’s (who was called Josuha according to Biff) life, before he became his big bad massia self. Between the ages of 13 and 30, Josh and Biff traveled to the east to seek wisdom from the magi who visited Josh at his birth. The adventures that take place in Afganistan, Tibet, and India are quite funny, but they don’t have a big overarching force driving them forward. The book follows a standard quest model similar to The Odessy or Candid.

Obviously several small stories strung together in a quest is a story structure that works. One of my examples was written before the original Gospels. But it doesn’t do as good a job of gripping readers as single story lines do. Christopher Moore is so funny that the laughs were enough to keep me reading. But there were many points in the story where it would have been easy to put the book down. In fact, I listened to this book over the course of two days, which means at one point in time, I did put it down to sleep. This is something that I rarely do.

Still, I have to recommend Lamb. Unless you are a super devote Christian who would be offended by the truth of the son of man’s adolescence.

Joke of the Day
Why are all the ink spots crying?
Their father was in the pen.