Monthly Archives: December 2013

Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age…Does It Really Matter?

English: The oldest writing in the world - The...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you remember the Flintstones? You know: Fred, Wilma, Pebbles and Dino, “the Modern Stone Age Family.” Little do people know that there was another Flintstone–a son.  They never spoke much about him and he didn’t have a role in the show.

His name was Grog, and Grog wanted to be a writer. Day after day Grog could be heard in his bedroom chiseling out the words of his first novel on a stone tablet. Tink, tink, tink….tink, tink, tink… tink, tink, tink…day in and day out.

Now Grog’s first attempt at prose included a Brontosaurus as the protagonist and a Stegosaurus as the antagonist. These two creatures were from feuding families and as fate would have it, madly in love with each other. Of course their love was forbidden but this made no difference to this dinosaurian couple.

Tink, tink, tink…the action would wax…tink, tink, tink…the action would wane. Grog was eighteen years old when he began this epic novel and twenty-seven years of age when the first manuscript was ready for the publisher. (So few manuscripts were completed in those days that publishers had long waiting periods between receiving rough drafts and finished products. Interestingly enough, agents had yet to be invented.)

Grog’s manuscript weighed seven tons when he shipped it to the publisher. He received word the next day that it has been accepted. Now he would have to begin to edit and rewrite.

Tink, tink, tink…edit, edit. Tink, tink, tink…rewrite, rewrite. This continued on for twelve more years until finally the second draft was complete. Once the publisher received the second draft, they were ecstatic. Now at last the final draft could begin.

Tink, tink, tink…final stuff, final stuff. Tink, tink, tink…final stuff, final stuff. After nine more years, Grog once again shipped his final manuscript back to the publisher.

Now the publisher could begin the cover art work and the back matter.

Tink, tink, tink…pretty picture on the front. Tink, tink, tink…interesting stuff on the back. The novel was at last finished and ready for retail sale.

Unfortunately, Grog was now in an old caveman’s home drooling into a stone cup and occasionally uttering these words “tink, tink, tink….tink, tink, tink.

Such was the fate of the prehistoric novelist. So the next time you feel like putting your fist through your computer monitor (as I often do) take a moment to think of Grog.

Tink, tink, tink…

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Merry Christmas and Happy Everything Else

The Space Shuttle Discovery and its seven-memb...

. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you had your “drathers,” would you catch a ride on the space shuttle,  journey to the deepest spot in the ocean, or write a novel?

We are all too familiar with the dangers affiliated with space flight.  Apollo One saw three astronauts, Ed White, Gus Grissom, and Roger Chaffee, lose their lives in a freak accident on the launch pad. Then, in 1986, the Challenger Space Shuttle exploded shortly after takeoff, killing all aboard, and the crew of the Columbia was lost on reentry, in 2003.

Thousands of souls have been lost in maritime disasters; however, one crowning moment was achieved in 1960 and has not been duplicated since–an excursion to the deepest point in the ocean by Challenger Deep. The walls of the vehicle were five inches thick with plexiglass view ports, one of which cracked near the ocean floor emanating an alarming thud and sending a vibration through the sub. The trip itself plunged to a depth of nearly 7 miles.

 Not being an adrenaline junkie or inquisitive enough to explore the depths of space or the depths of the oceans, I would choose to write a novel. In fact, I’ve managed to write several. They all seem to contain elements of danger, be it of the natural or supernatural varieties.

 If I look closely enough, I can usually detect a small part of myself somewhere within the menagerie of personalities. I guess I’ll live vicariously through my characters as far as danger is concerned… 0n second thought, that statement is more than likely false, as I have no desire to indulge in risky activities.

 Do you see how I can confound the sanest of people, while keeping myself in a total state of confusion?

 As I take a few seconds to beat the cobwebs out, I’ll attempt to continue this post in some coherent fashion.

 I consider this to be my Christmas post. I know it may seem a bit odd to associate such a joy-filled holiday with so many instances of tragedy and man-made disaster. However, I think it accomplishes two things.

 In many ways, it showcases our best–that unwavering human spirit, undaunted even in the face of certain demise. It is this spirit that has given us our many freedoms, medical advances, and countless discoveries that have made the world a better place.

 Secondly, it should keep us mindful of the sacrifices made and the families left behind. It is impossible to name all of these hero’s, though it is possible to remember all concerned, not just this time of year, but each day that we ourselves awake.

Finally, have a grand time with family and friends this year. Take care and be safe in your travels. And no matter what this new year brings, take solace. The one who came 2000 years ago to save, well… He’s still got your back!

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I Give up, You figure it out.

Moon and Space Ship

(Photo credit: Je.T.)

 Consider star travel:  In order to do this, we must think in terms of light years. If light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles per second, then the distance you could achieve in the span of a year is what I would call, “a mighty fur piece.”  I bring this to your attention to highlight the difficulties and similarities for the writer between light travel and the mind numbingly, but necessary, job of obtaining a literary agent.

 What would one have to do in order to travel to the stars? Quite simply, develop a rocket motor that would hurl a spacecraft as fast as the beam from a flashlight travels. First problem solved.

 What do you do when searching for a literary agent? First you must determine the genre of your writing and then match it with the correct agent. First problem solved, maybe.

 Next obstacle on your way to the stars: Traveling from sun to sun tends to take large amounts of time. Your next hurdle, develop a cryogenic suspension system to sustain astronauts over long distances. Second problem in the bag.

 Next problem for agent search:  Learn to write query letter and synopsis. Second problem solved, maybe.

 For our next hitch on the way to Alpha Centaur a. Have enough food to maintain astronauts over extended periods of time. Develop hydroponic garden system so adequate varieties and amounts of food can be grown.

 Still searching for agent: Once you have completed query, synopsis, sample chapters (different agents have different requirements) email to selected agent and prepare to wait up to three months.

 I am now standing on an alien world getting ready to sit down to my first hydroponically grown meal.

 In my search for an agent… still waiting.

 Of course I write this with tongue firmly planted in cheek. A literary agent has an insurmountable task with thousands of manuscripts to read and authors to represent, being only a part of their responsibility.  I applaud the work you do.

 So the next time you look up in the sky, count the stars and let me know what you come up with, then I can see if your count is correct.

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And Down Will Come Baby, Cradle and Whatever Else Has No Business In the Top of a Tree

Dog Looking at and Listening to a Phonograph, ...

(Photo credit: Beverly & Pack)

As I sit in my lonely writer’s room, I ponder my very existence. Do I actually exist? If so, why am I here? How can I possibly accomplish the task for which I was brought into existence to accomplish? “How,” I ask you.  “How?” As my soul sinks into the depths of despair, I feel my very life’s blood flow into nothingness, for I am nothing…a mere thought, unable to accomplish the simplest of accomplishments.

 How sappy can you get? I almost threw up writing it. It may have flown a hundred years ago, and although my version was a little over the top, it just goes to show you how writing styles have changed over the years.

 I used this intro to segue into sayings we use today, but which have lost their relevance, (had they possessed an iota of relevance to begin with.)

 Remember this one?

 “Work like a dog.”

 Now I’ll admit that there are breeds of “working” dogs that actually labor today and this practice was much more prevalent back in the day when dogs were bred for a specific job.   The notion that, “work like a dog” has any real meaning today careened down the mountain side, through the veterinary specialists (including psychiatry) canine insurance, into businesses catering exclusively to our four-legged friends  complete with gourmet food, sweaters, bows and, the crème de la crème, fake reindeer antlers.

  My dog’s definition of work would be as follows:

 Eat, drink, lick, standup, yawn, chase squirrels, become bored, give up, bark at a cloud, water bowl too far away, yawn, circle twice, plop down, lick, take nap. Repeat process until bedtime.

 “Work like a dog?” I think not.

 How about this one?

 “Sleep like a baby.”

A friend spends the night at your house. The next morning you meet in the kitchen for breakfast. During coffee you make an offhand comment.“How’d you sleep last night?” “Like a baby,” comes the reply.

So you went to bed around 8 p.m., I think to myself. Cried yourself to sleep, woke up at 10 and 12 for a feeding and diaper change. At 2 a.m. you drank your bottle, burped ever so slightly and then pressure-puked all over your mother, your crib and yourself. Finally returned to sleep at 3 a.m., woke up at 4 a.m. for bottle and diaper change , then laid back down just in time for a rectal blowout. This little slice of heaven managed to push through the diaper legs and all over the crib. Someone cleaned you up and all involved were back to sleep by 5:30 a.m.. You were up for the rest of the day by 6 a.m.

 Once again, “sleep like a baby.” I think not.

 So what can we take away from these paragraphs of wisdom? Unfortunately, not much, so I’ll leave you with this tidbit:

 Elephants could fly, if bicycles would stop eating ham sandwiches… Now think on that one a while and get back to me.

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When They Chew You Up and Spit You Out, Just Be Glad They Didn’t Swallow

Praying mantis

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Have you ever written a page or even a paragraph and as you wrote you were certain in your heart of hearts that this piece was some of your finest work? If Hemingway, Fitzgerald, or H. G. Wells himself could have read this single page in their day, I am convinced that nary the three would have dared to put pencil to paper ever again for fear of substandard work in comparison. Then, as you backtrack to read the stellar work you have just produced, you realize that a third grader has somehow entered your article through a secret backdoor and rewritten your magnificent page.

 Or, have you ever written a piece that reinforced the notion that your writing skills were actually that of a third grader, only this time when you reluctantly began to reread, now there seemed to be a possibility that you were one big ball of benevolence–a gift to the literary world?

  After the highs and the lows, you settle into your latest project, enjoying each word, sentence, and paragraph.

 Then comes the reviews…

 Oh, you’ll revel in the adoring four and five-star reviews. Just don’t let the ones and twos, pull you down.

 My first suggestion in surviving reviews is to eat foods which promote growth in the outer layers of the epidermis as thick skin will become necessary in order to survive the onslaught of negativity and rejection you will no doubt have to face.

 I’ve had reviews that lifted my head above the clouds and with the same book, a review that ripped me to shreds. It bordered on a personal attack; all from the organizer of a book club that I gave a book to in the first place.

 It reminds me of our friends in the animal kingdom, the “praying mantis.” During the mating season when the male and female come together (the female being the larger of the two), they engage in an elaborate dance of love before the big event.

 I can imagine the thoughts of the smaller brown male. Wow! What a big green hot momma! She sure got some kinda six sexy legs; that pretty face; those emerald eyes; and man oh man, what a thorax! I sure do hope that she doesn’t have a boyfriend.

 And the female’s thoughts:

 He sure is cute and looks to be right strong. I wonder if he’s got a job. He’ll have to call in sick on Monday. She gives him a wink and he saunters over. They dance the night away, and then finally comes copulation.

 They both sigh a long breath of satisfaction. The male lights a cigarette and the female chews his head off.

 Oh well, just like writing, it’s one more thing that comes with the territory.

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