Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What Is In a Name?

What gives someone the right to a name? My kids were watching "Elf" a few weeks ago and the naive Buddy sees a sign that says "World's Best Cup of Coffee". He congratulated them on their achievement. Later you realize that its just a crummy cup of Jo'.

Now I'm not going to debate with you the likelihood of any two people agreeing on the World's Best of anything, however I do want to discuss the use of the word National. This weekend there is the National Apple Harvest Festival in Pennsylvania. Why is that particular festival the National? Does that mean that apples in Washington, Oregon, California, and Utah are of less worth because they are out West without the stamp of "National" on them?

Are we jipped because we live in the West and can't claim the title "National"? Are we less, somehow, because we live so far from the nation's capital? I don't think so. We have AMAZING National Parks (Oh, there is that word!!). We have amazing wildness that can only be dreamt of back East.

However, sometimes, it is great to have a "National" something. Something that the whole Nation can gather 'round to honor. For example, the National Fallen Firefighter Memorial. There is an eternal fire there and it is amazing to acknowledge the lives lost in protecting those at home. Also on the grounds is an amazing sculpture replicating the firefighters who raised the flag at Ground Zero. The artist is Utahn and his work is amazing and beautiful.

Most things bearing the name National, bear that name with pride and have earned that name. I guess time will tell if the National Apple Festival will live up to the name National! What are some of your favorite "National" places and events?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsom

I have to take a moment and give my writing group props for the great word counts that came in last week. Huzzah! It's all friendly competition over here. :)

I am late again this week on my post due to unavoidable mom responsibilities. I won't bore you with the details. It does all come down to choices, though. For instance, I chose to stay up way too late finishing my book club book, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card. Here is where I confess that I've never read an Orson Scott Card book before now. (gasp!) I wish I'd started with Ender's Game, but I wasn't completely disappointed. Aside from it being a fantasy novel written like a sci-fi, I got into the story and really loved what he did with the world-crossing-lovers-meant-to-be theme.

In other news, I have a character in my head that I'm starting to really love. I don't know all the details about her yet, but that doesn't matter because I like who she is. No spoilers here. If she ever comes to fruition you can all check her out on your local book store shelves. :)

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Internet Exchange

Remember the time when you had to do research and you'd get in the car, driven by your mom, to head out for the library and spend hours leafing through books in the research section until finally, finally finding the information that you need?

These days are in the past.

The Internet has made home research a reality. And tools like Google have perfected the method so if it takes longer than 2.6 seconds to get an answer, you just don't know the right question.

Sites like WebMD are a hypochondriac's best friend. Now they don't have to pay the $15 copay to find out what they don't have. Soon, doctor's won't be necessary, except for a pen and prescription pad. And when we need that prescription, we can just hop on to Facebook and send a message. Human contact optional.

A writer's job is made much easier with use of the Internet. So is a stalker's. It's pretty much a win/win for me...uhhh, not that I'm stalking anyone.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE the Internet. As time wasters go, it's a big one for me. A time saving tool that liberates me from hours of useless leafing in the library ends up taking twice as long, but I also get a lot more accomplished. So give me a huge Internet high-five and leave a comment. After all, that's what the Internet is for.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Autumn Memories

Autumn is here. It is my all-time favorite season. How about some stream of consciousness writing to pay tribute to Autumns past and present? Please join me if you wish.

...class lists, freshly sharpened pencils, shopping for new clothes, lunch boxes, chilled air, picking apples in Oak Glen, Santa Ana winds, ollie ollie oxen free, running from house to house trick-or-treating, the smell of wood burning, crunching leaves, walking to school, latest crush, yelling at football games, family gatherings, Grandma's rolls, Mom's mashed potatoes, mountain treks, acorns, pinecones, Utah snow, new students, counting the days until Christmas, breath coming out as fog, Gardner Village, carmel apples, hot chocolate, witches everywhere, good movies, deer, antelope, great sunsets...

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

To be released on October 6, 2009, by Random House Children's!

James Dashner's The Maze Runner felt like an enjoyable collage of all the reasons I like dystopic novels so dang much. It was a Farenheit 451 meets Ender's Game meets 1984 meets Lost meets Lord of the Flies meets City of Ember meets Little Women (okay, maybe not so much Little Women, but a guy can dream, can't he?).

Young Thomas finds himself with no memory of himself or where he came from--only that he's been dumped out of a box onto the hard ground and a bunch of kids are looking at him like he's their new leader (enter Lord of the Flies). He's inducted into their survivalist society and is told that he can hang out in their digs and all, but he must never venture out of the big, scary doors, lest bad things happen. And they must type in a code every twelve hours into a computer with a DOS-like screen, otherwise more bad things will happen (okay, this last really doesn't happen in this way, but take my word for it . . . Lost is written all over this with permanent marker; I keep expecting Hugo to come out of one of the shacks with a jar of peanut butter or something).

So these marooned manchildren have a society going on, but everything goes hog-wild the day after Thomas comes when a GIRL (gasps, shudders, cootie-repellent spraying) comes hopping out of the box and tells them the end is near. Well, of course the end is near, guys. Whenever a girl pops out of a box and starts ordering you around, run for the HILLS! CUT YOUR LOSSES! ALL IS LOST!

So is that teasy enough without giving out any juicy spoilers?

The creatures working against the Lords of Flies and such are the Grievers: a combination of your friendly neighborhood mechanical bloodhound (enter Farenheit 451) enmeshed with a big ball of gelatinous, green goo that must slow them down some, since they're not as fast and wily as those friendly neighborhood mechanical bloodhounds. But don't stop pouring on the fear, because these grievers have needles and mechanical grindy things that will tear and rend. ACK!

Thomas is one of those characters who is smart and save-the-day-heroic but he downplays his abilities with false humility so that he can get along with the rest of the guys (enter Ender's Game). He and Teresa have interactions that are fairly surface level, and I'm hoping their relationship is more extensively developed in the sequels. A great framework is set up for expanding this as well as the relationships between all the guys, including Winston (enter 1984), Minho, Alby, Chuck, Newt (enter Amphibians), Gally, Frypan, and all the other Lost Boys.

Each of the Lost Boys has a job to fulfill in this dystopian existence (enter City of Ember): some butcher animals (which are delivered by the Box), others are runners, who explore the land outside the gates in the great maze. Dashner gives some great insights into what children act like when forced to be adults, grown-up far too early in order to simply survive.

Listen. If I were to recommend any book to read this fall, it would be Robert Jordan/Brandon Sanderson's first book of a two-part final 12th book of the Wheel of Time, The Gathering Storm. If you can make it through that Leviathan of a book and still have the energy to read more, then check out James Dashner's well-written, engaging, Lord-of-the-flies-from-the-seat-of-your-pants The Maze Runner. You'll love it!

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. October 6, 2009. Random House Children's. 384 pp. $12.74 (PB--discounted online at B&N).

Thursday, September 24, 2009

What if...

What if we had no necks?

What if suddenly the universe tilted and colors started to run together? (We'd live in a Dr. Suess Book.)

What if Albert Einstein had never lived?

What if music only consisted of 3 notes?

What if all the books in the world suddenly disintergrated?

What if... (you come up with some.)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Inkers and Voice

Last night the great Inker's met for our monthly writers group. As I visited with a fellow Inker, she mentioned that the inaugural meeting was one year ago with Donna, Debbie, and Arlene. Kirk, Linda, and I (DJ) started coming the next month. I think we need cake.

How I came to be a part of this elite group is sheer magic (or was it eavesdropping?). Donna and I were both at a "girls' night" and were standing around the chocolate fountain. She was talking to Kirk's lovely wife Joy about the writers' group, asking if Joy or Kirk (or Koy Jirk as I will now call them) would like to join. My fabulous eavesdropping ears perked up and I rudely butt in, exclaiming, "Donna, you know I love to write! I want to come." Since Donna is too nice to ever refuse anyone, I was allowed to come. I am the least experienced and least knowledgeable, but I do love it. And I LOVE learning from everyone else. (Plus I had to change my email to gmail and that has made all the difference.)

Debbie taught a great lesson on voice last night. Then she gave us the challenge of defining our own personal voice. Are you deep? (No.) Are you suspenseful? (No.) Are you serious? (If by serious you mean boring, maybe.) Are you funny? (I think I'm hilarious, but that doesn't come through my writing.)

I think I may fail the easiest assignment yet! I don't know what my voice is. See, it was just eavesdropping that got me here . . . only time will tell if their genius will rub off on me. :)

What is your voice like? Deep and gravely, or sweet and sincere, like a dove or like a crow?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Discuss amongst yourselves...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Acronym Soup

I don't "Ebay" very often. Every once in a while, I find a need for something that I can't find at the store so I look online. Recently I decided to look for a Halloween item. I was slightly appalled to realize that Ebay is attempting to ruin the English language. Descriptions like "EUC" and "NWT" kept popping up, these foreign acronyms with mysterious meanings. I even saw a few descriptions that read "GR8'. Apparently typing out the entire word "great", which is only two letters longer, would have taken too much time and space. LOL!

We even have to shorten the names of celebrity couples, like "Brangelina" and "Gyllenspoon". Perhaps, to save time, we can all legally change our names to form some combination. From now on, I want people to refer to my husband and I as Rebbie Hibberson. Kirk might have to be known as "Jirk", a slightly easier transition. LOL!

LOL is so overused that, while some still use it to indicate humor, others use it to say, "I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to this conversation."

These acronyms are popping up everywhere that writing is found; on blogs, in emails, texting, and even Ebay. At this rate, it won't be long until an actual novel is passe, and we have shorter, acronym filled books that take up less space. LOL!

What's your take on the acronym revolution? Love it? Hate it? Do you have a favorite acronym? Give me your thoughts.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Puff the Magic Dragon

The death this week of Mary Travers, of Peter, Paul, and Mary fame instantly reminded me of my kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Pelkey. She was young, pretty, and often brought her guitar to class to sing to us. My favorite? "Puff the Magic Dragon"

The song has held a special place in my heart since then, but as I thought about it this week I realized I'd forgotten most of the words. It was mostly the catchy chorus that played over and over in my head. I reviewed the lyrics and was a bit surprised to remember it tells a pretty sad story.

As many of you probably know, in the song, Puff and his young human friend Jackie use their imagination to have many different adventures when they play together. Everything is wonderful until Jackie gets older, and he leaves Puff and their imaginative play behind. Puff becomes depressed and crawls back into his cave, leaving the shores of the magical seaside place of Honalee.

This song touched me as a child. I believe it is because imagination has always been important to me. Our imagination is our strongest tool as writers. I don't want to give up that childish enthusiasm for make-believe.

(BTW, I know there is a popular belief that this song is about smoking marijuana, but because I like the outward message of the song and it is associated with a fond memories of a beloved teacher, I choose to believe Peter, Paul, and Mary's assertion that it is not.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tu Publishing

So I wanted to share this today. One of my friends, a fellow editor, is starting up her own YA speculative fiction publishing company. Here's the details from Stacy Whitman:

I'm cross-posting this from the Tu Publishing website, the website of my small press. I promised you the announcement of a project, and I've finally finished it at 3:15 a.m. I'm going to go ahead and share it everyone despite the video needing a little fine-tuning still. (I seem to have a different resolution camera than Christine Taylor-Butler, who helped me out by providing an educator's and parent's perspective on multicultural fantasy and science fiction.) The Tu Publishing site is a work in progress--I didn't have time last night to completely update it when I posted the video, but it will be changing and getting more informative soon.

Just a reminder (though I iterate it below, too) that those who have used the "donate" button here on this blog are on the list to receive the same incentives put in place in the Kickstarter project. You've been very helpful as we've gotten through the red tape to start a company, and I want to reciprocate, even if it's a pretty small gesture comparitively.

Tu Publishing is a woman-owned small press startup that believes in the power of books to change lives. Childrens books, especially, have the ability to inform, inspire, and entertain in a way that few mediums can.

The word tu means you in many languages, and in Ainu (the language of Japans native people), it means many. Tu Publishing is dedicated to publishing fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and historical fiction for children and young adults inspired by many cultures from around the world, to reach the "you" in each reader.

Kids who love to read do better in school. One way to encourage that love of reading is to provide stories that readers can identify with. By increasing the number of books that feature multicultural character and settings, we can influence the multicultural world of tomorrow.

Fantasy and science fiction, mystery and historical fiction--these genres draw in readers like no other. Yet it is in these genres that readers of color might feel most like an outsider, given that such a large percentage features white characters (when they feature human characters). It is the goal of Tu Publishing to publish genre books for children and young adults that fills this gap in the market--and more importantly, this gap in serving our readers.

As author Mitali Perkins and many others have pointed out, books can be both a mirror and a window to other worlds for readers. Tu Publishing hopes that by publishing books that feature multicultural characters and settings and books with worlds inspired by all the many non-Western cultures in the world, we might shine a mirror on you and open a window to many.

To be able to achieve that goal, we need to raise enough money to fund the acquisition, production, marketing, and distribution of our first two books, for which we hope--with your help--to begin acquiring in January 2010. With your help, we can make this happen.

We have officially started our fund-raising project at and invite anyone interested in being a part of making Tu Publishing a reality to check out the project.

What is If you know Cheryl Klein, you might have seen her project to publish a book of her essays on writing there. This project is similar, except that it's a bit more than Cheryl needed because we also need to pay a modest advance to the authors and publicize and market the books we acquire. It takes a lot of money to get a publishing company started, and we thought that this would be a nice, secure way for anyone interested to get involved, and to get something back for it. Kickstarter runs their payments through Amazon payments, and the project is only funded if the full goal amount is reached by the deadline. If it isn't reached, no harm, no foul, and no payments go through, with the idea being that it would be worse to have a project be underfunded than not funded at all.

For those who have already donated before we started the Kickstarter project, you are on our list already of people to receive the same incentives here. Thank you for your support.

ETA: Yay! I've figured out how to fix the video. I had to completely upload a new one to replace the one that squished Christine, so I ended up adding music and making it shorter, too. If you've been sharing it, please note the new location.

The challenge portion of this

Whether or not you can donate, I'd love to see people, especially teen readers/nonreaders, share their own video or blog responses to this video, discussing whether you identify with the characters in the books you read and whether it matters to you. Mitali Perkins got this ball rolling separately as a part of the larger conversation about race in children's and YA in her blog post asking "are books windows or mirrors?" I found her use of the mirror/window analogy very important--books can be a window to other worlds, but they also need to be mirrors in some ways, especially for young readers. The more "mirror" books we have for every child, the more "windows" there are for everyone. What do you think?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Poor Clorinda...

"Poor, Clorinda." This sentence makes me smile every time I think of it. However, if you have not read Georgette Heyer's book Regency Buck then you will not recognize just how funny these two words can be together. For the initiated connoisseurs of Heyer's brilliant regency romances, the thrill will always live in this phrase.

For those not in the Heyer fan club, here are the facts:
1. Clorinda is not the character's name. Its a nickname for the main character created by the smarmy and fascinating hero/villain (you won't know which until you read it.)
2. Lord Worth is one of those incredible characters you can hear in your head while you're reading. Heyer makes him soooo real that I can hear the emphasis, the sarcasm, and the tenderness all wrapped up in these two little words.

As an aspiring author it is my dream to create a terrific "Poor, Clorinda" moment in my stories. That is a goal I am still working on. Reading great writing is essential to being a good writer though. So here are some other books and authors I love to revisit when I need inspiration:
Georgette Heyer
The Grand Sophy

Elizabeth Peters
Amelia Peabody Series
Vicky Bliss

Orson Scott Card for the storytelling.

Brandon Sanderson for world building.

Skipping Christmas by John Grisham for the humor.

I told a new friend of mine that I would blog about Georgette Heyer and how much I love her SR here you go. I hope you will read her books. They are my winter companions and I am grateful to have them around on a dull snowy day or any other day for that matter.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

This Is A Test

Is this actually going to work? Are my days numbered of running to the library every Wenesday just to publish my post?? Can this be the end? Wowee if it be so.

Thoughts That Lead to Ideas

I went camping over Labor Day weekend. It was a great time with tons of little kids and good friends. The adults laughed around the campfire 'til 1 am and the kiddies played hard and spoiled my dog.

Most everyone left, but another mom and I (both our husbands were MIA) took our kids further up the mountain for more adventure. We headed for Provo River Falls--they are amazing! Tumbling water over book-like cliffs. The water flows at a steady pace. They are spectacular with easy access.

Maybe that easy access is part of the problem. Since it was a holiday weekend the falls were very crowded. And the crowds consisted of mainly teenagers. I don't have a problem with teenagers--except when their choices effect my kids.

The teenagers were being reckless around the powerful falls. It led the two youngest in our party to be reckless. They were running through the intermittent pools of water (right on the edge of the falls); running up to the edge of the rocks and jumping down; and wanting to climb the cliffs across from the falls.

I thought for sure that we would arrive in Eagle Mountain with one less kid. And then how would the MIA father's feel? I about had a heart attack every few minutes watching these kids.

The other mother caught up to her boy at one point and asked "Why are you doing this?"

His answer is interesting: "I keep having these thoughts in my head that are giving me ideas."

I love that logic; although I do not love where his thoughts were leading him--right over the edge of the falls. I guess the object of parenting is to teach our kids which thoughts to encourage and which thoughts they should just ignore.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Writing ADD

I was recently told that I have writing ADD because of my inability to sit down to a project for any length of time....

Yeah, that's pretty much true. The same friend used a great comparison between writing and exercise. That first 5K race is hard because you've never done it before and you don't know what to expect, but the finish is so satisfying that you train for another three months and do a 10K. After all, it's not that much further. It can be the same with writing. That first short story is like a break through, a ray of sunshine that titillates your little brain cells into creating more (and sometimes better) characters. You work on those characters until there's enough meat for more than just a short story. So, why not move on to a full-fledged novel? Of course, I'm not qualified to give that kind of advice, but in my mind both writing and racing require the same characteristics. Perseverance, determination, strength of mind, endurance and the ability to sacrifice your time to reach your goals.

So get at it! (Me included). :)

Monday, September 14, 2009

In the Foot Zone

"Today I am going to connect your physical body to your ethereal body." These were the first words spoken to me by a foot zoner, who had a rather common name, much to my disappointment. For the rest of this post, for my personal satisfaction, I will refer to her as Zaltana.

I had never heard of a "foot zoning" before, but a very good friend told me I should try it out. So I did. Besides, what could be bad with an hour long foot massage?

Zaltana, while massaging my feet, gave some very interesting pearls of wisdom. Zaltana told me the feet mirror the whole body, and according to my feet, she could tell that I am a professional stuffer (her term, not mine). This means I stuff everything into my solar plexus, all my problems, emotions, and frustrations. Her suggestion? Let myself cry.

I DON'T cry.

She also told me I have trust issues, unresolved problems with men, and that I need to stop wearing a bra with an underwire. Yeah, I'm not sure why either.

What have I done with this sage advice? I, by nature, am a skeptic. But I've wondered why I might have trust issues, I've assured the four "men" (that would be my husband and three sons) in my life that I love them, and I've worn my sports bra a little more often than I used underwire there.

But I haven't cried.

If your feet could talk, what would they tell you? Maybe you should visit a foot zoner and find out.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Remote Control

As a child who loved, and I mean, loved television, the start of the new Fall TV season used to make me tingle in anticipation. In my youth, they would do a one hour preview special of the Saturday morning kids' shows during primetime. I would beg my mom to watch so I could pick my hits and plan my schedule. Shows like Land of the Lost, Isis, Shazam, and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl kept me glued to the set. Over the years, my love for the box has waned, which I'm told is healthy and allows one to actually accomplish things. Not that I don't watch, but there are fewer shows that I get really excited about.

In this coming season I am most looking forward to the finale of Lost, a show I have immensely enjoyed, despite feeling as though the writers/producers themselves got lost around season 3. This past season was their definite best and sets things up for a great finish (fingers crossed). It is the only drama series I watch because, at the end of the day, if I'm gonna watch drama, it's got to be entertaining drama and not-like-real-life drama. My other returning favorites are 30 Rock, The Office, The Amazing Race, Survivor, and American Idol. Two other favorites, to my delight, run year-round - The Soup, and Conan O'Brien. My rule for comedy is it has to routinely make me laugh out loud to be worth my time.

Although I have made a vow, a casual vow, not a solemn one, to not take on any new shows until one from my current line-up ends, I may cheat and watch FlashForward since Lost is almost done. The premise of FlashForward is that it "follows the chaotic repercussions after every human being on earth blacks out for two minutes and 17 seconds," according to EW. The cast is also intriguing, with Joseph Fiennes and Dominic Monaghan on board. Besides, with one of the greatest inventions of all time, the DVR, at my fingertips, I'm no longer at the mercy of the TV schedule. I watch when I want, save time by skipping commercials, and yes, make time to actually accomplish something of my own - finishing that novel.

Friday, September 11, 2009

This is a test of the emergency broadcast system.

Most likely you're safely reading this message in the security of your own home. Little do you know that aliens bent on the destruction of this very planet have started bombarding it with radiation and thermonuclear devices. So enjoy this post. It might very well be the last one you ever--

(White noise. Static. Concussive waves of utter annihilation.)

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Importance of Story

I've been pondering the importance of stories in my life. I remember wanting to step though my closet and meet Aslan, I wanted to be brave like Frodo and loyal like Gurgie (The black cauldron series). I dreamed about fantastic futures with fairies and unicorns and hidden magic waiting to come alive at my touch. Stories helped me cope, taught me to dream, to believe and to imagine. I still believe that anything is possible. (Ask my husband. The poor man often has to deal with my unending determination to make things happen which can be difficult when its nearly midnight and the thing I want to happen is fixing the garage door. Where is that magic wand when I need it?)

Recently I read "Uglies" by Scott Westerfield. In his post apocalyptic world of super model humans, where everyone normal is ugly until they are surgically turned 'pretty,' the adventure is good. The characters are likeable or hatable depending on their purpose and the conflict is clear and compelling. However, that is not what makes the story important. The importance of the story is the message. There is no preaching, no fable, no eye-rolling moralizing. Instead the entire story weaves into the readers mind the idea that making people pretty is crazy and being normal is awesome. Bring on the asymetrical faces and uneven brows, the thin lips and fat lips and glasses. Being unique rocks. I haven't read the other books in the series yet, but I'm looking forward to them.

Because of my memories of what stories did for me as a child and because of the importance of story in my life, I've been thinking that I want more importance in the stories I tell also. Think of your favorite books and what they taught you or made you feel.

Great stories, I think, are the ones that carry their message between the lines, woven into the fiber of the characters until the story and the themes are inseperable. I think we need more books like that in today's market and less fluff for the sake of fluff or action for the sake of the next video game. Can't fun adventures also inspire us and make us want to be heroes?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Next Big Thing

My son started preschool today. Let me hear the cheers! Come on, people! Woot! Woot! Huzzah!

And on to other news. I went camping on Friday and got to talk to a fellow bookaholic who had a love/hate relationship with the last Twilight book. This brings me to my next question. Has 'the next big thing' come out yet? Is it in the editing process as I type this? Is there a debut novelist out there just waiting for the limelight to fall on them? If you all have a series in mind that you think is filling the niche, please, by all means, make your comments known. For myself, I don't think it's been written yet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Four Conversation Habits of Annoying People

We all have conversational habits, those little things we say or do that have somehow become ingrained. Some of us may use the same word a lot (I've heard mine is 'absolutely'), or some of us may have adopted sarcasm as a form of expression. But there are certain common habits that can cause a deep sigh with accompanying eye roll almost immediately.

Braggart: Someone who rambles endlessly about something until the subject becomes irrelevant or everyone stops caring. Also can be found in the form of a FaceBragger, someone who posts Braggart messages on Facebook.

Bob: I still have the top score on that Mortal Combat arcade at Pizza Palace.
Bob John Bobbaganush still has the top score in Mortal Combat. Take that!

One-Upper: A person who upon hearing a story, has need to tell a similar story with a greater, or poorer, outcome.

Jane: I got this sweater on sale for five bucks.
Jill: Yeah? Well, I got this sweater on sale for three. Plus the jeans were four, the shoes six, and I got a whole package of underwear for a dollar.

Joke Poacher: Someone who hears a joke told privately, then 'poaches' the joke to get a laugh.

Jane: (to Jill) If Frank has any more to drink, he's gonna sweat fruit punch.
Jill: (loudly) Hey Frank, if you drink any more tonight, you're gonna be sweatin' fruit punch.
Crowd at party: ha ha ha

Know-it-all: A person who knows nearly everything about nearly every subject...or will talk until others believe it or want them to shut up.

Frank: No, really. Jon Heder was totally going to replace Christian Bale as Batman, but Christian agreed to be easier to work with, he even signed an "attitude clause" in his contract.
Bob: Whatever, Dude.

To all the Braggarts, One-uppers, Joke Poachers, and Know-it-all's out there (or to those who know one), go ahead and post a comment. Let's see what you've got.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A Few Good Words

After a pretty intense writing week at work, I am at a loss for words.

Thus, I would like to submit a challenge for everyone to share a couple of their favorite words. If you choose to, you can also tell why you like them.

Here are two of mine - bliss and spry. Bliss, because it means a state of supreme happiness, and who doesn't want that? Spry, because I like to use old fashioned words, and it is fun to say.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rafting Down the Weber River

I'd like to dedicate this post to my wife, Joy, who is unbelievably amazing. She planned an awesome birthday weekend for just the two of us, involving rafting the Weber River, up by Park City, checking out a movie and trying out California Pizza Kitchen for the first time (it's crazy I haven't been there before since pizza is my ambrosia), and dropping in to Barnes & Noble Sugarhouse (the best B&N in Utah, people! Two FLOORS of printed goodness!!).

The best part of that last bit is that she let me browse for at least an hour (I lost track of time, so it might have been an hour and a half or two, but she had her book to read, so she was happy enough and as part of her birthday gift, she never once rushed me).

I ran into some great titles that I hadn't noticed before, like S. M. Stirling's post-apocalyptic series, starting with Dies the Fire, which looked amazing! I also added some Guy Gavriel Kay to my list, along with The Drowning City, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere (I also convinced a lady while near the Neil Gaiman books that no, she shouldn't buy American Gods for her younger kids, even though they loved Graveyard Book . . .), A Shadow in Summer, and Aurelia's Colors (isn't that a gorgeous cover!). I have been eyeing for some time Glen Cook's Black Company Chronicles, and so that was my pick for this BD B&N trip. I think it's the same artist that created the phenomenal cover for John Brown's debut novel, Servant of a Dark God.

Magnificent covers, aren't they?

Anyway, back to why I love my wife: because she knows me better than anyone and couldn't have planned a better birthday weekend getaway.

Love ya, Babe!


Thursday, September 3, 2009

Karma gods...forgive me!

Why is it that when I say anything slightly critical of anyone the Karma gods strike directly at my muse? Oh yeah, it's because we're not supposed to judge others. Well, this week I'm pretty sure that I managed to not say anything very snarky...In fact I am pretty sure that I am suffering from reflected bad karma. I listened (yes merely listened) to a critical (but true) remark and now my muse is dancing away in my stuffed up head and my flu symptoms WILL NOT allow me the time or energy to put my inspiration on paper.
Beware the Karma gods...they are vengeful in the extreme. Either that or I have a head cold and the meds are making me loopy.

Maybe we should take a poll.
1 Evil Karma Keepers?
2 Loopy on meds?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Calling All Writers . . . HELP!

I need help, and it has to come from the entire writing community: authors, agents, editors, publishers. I need a middle grade book that will hold the interest of an 8 year old boy. Is there anyone who can help me??

My son came home yesterday with his first book report assignment EVER. The book has to be 100 pages. I read the assignment, like a good mother, and suggested we take a book walk through our library to find him a book that he could read over the next month.

We traveled down to the basement (only after his hot turkey sandwich was finished--he couldn't let it get cold) and pulled out a Magic Tree House book; only eighty some-odd pages. None of the Jack and Annie books that we have are any longer. Then I started searching through the kids' section and they were all "girl" books.

He's not a strong reader and this is going to be the challenge of third grade. But I need books for him, now! The boy easy chapter book section is very small. Junnie B Jones doesn't have many male counterparts. And the ones that he is capable of reading are so insulting to his intelligence (in other words "They are baby books, mom!").

So that is my rant for the day. Please write easy chapter books for boys (and if they are over 100 pages, so much the better). By the time they are published, he will hopefully have moved on to Faeblehaven and such, but he can't be the only boy who genuinely wants to read, but can't find anything of interest in his skill level. The need is there, what can we do to meet it?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

"Holding Out For a Hero"

Yes, the song by Bonnie Tyler. I was listening to it the other day. What a shock, I'm a fan of '80's rock...sort of. But that's beside the point. The point is that the funniest application of this song is in Shrek 2. If you haven't seen it, skip to the end when Shrek comes to the rescue. This song accompanies that scene. Now go and read the lyrics to the song. Oh alright, here's the first verse and the chorus:

Where have all the good men gone and where are all the gods?
Where's the street-wise Hercules to fight the rising odds?
Isn't there a white knight upon a fiery steed?
Late at night I toss and I turn and I dream of what I need

I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero till the end of the night
he's gotta be strong and he's gotta be fast
and he's gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I'm holding out for a hero till the morning light
He's gotta be sure and it's gotta be soon
And he's gotta be larger than life
Larger than life

Bonnie Tyler maintains a preposterous sort of growl throughout the entire song...again, beside the point. What I'm getting at here is that there is a draw to hero characters who stand up to the overwhelming odds before them. And not just in fiction. I watched Braveheart last night and couldn't get over what an amazing figure in history he is. Aside from the obvious theatrical license they use in the movie, he truly was a remarkable person. His stature alone, especially for that time period, is staggering. His sword was aproximately 66 inches long, the blade making up about 52 inches. It's estimated that he would've had to be about 6 1/2 feet tall to wield it. That, combined with his long-ingrained stand on personal liberty and freedom made him a daunting adversary to the English and a captain worth following to the Scots. Creating a character in fiction worth following is, in many ways, much more difficult to accomplish because that character has to be able to stand up to real life heroes such as William Wallace and Robert the Bruce. Two people who actually put everything they had on the line to win a free country of their own.