Random Randomness on a Friday

A Friday Haiku

Rain rain go away

And you had better not freeze,

No ice ice baby!

Weigh-In Friday

Good news. I lost two pounds.

*Does the happy weight loss dance*

Now if I could only figure out what I did different this week from last. Although, I did buy a medicine ball and I’ve been doing various exercises for my core with it.

Writing and OCD

I don’t know if I really have OCD, but I have ADHD-induced obsessiveness.

I’m refering to yesterday’s blog where I mentioned I was sinking into a research quagmire because I felt a scene needed a humorous anecdote to balance a tense moment where my MC is combating a demon, specifically the Egyptian demon Ammit, the devourer.

Have I completed the research and continued with my almost finished edits on my novel so I can start having it beta read?

No. To show just how obsessive I can be about being as factual and historically accurate in my fiction, even an urban fatasy faerie tale, I’m reading the entire text of “The Egyptian Book of the Dead.”

Just so I can write one short paragraph.

Tell me that’s normal behavior and all writers do the same thing.

Please?

Wisconsin is rejoicing

Yes, Wisconsin is rejoicing, or at least the intelligent part is.

Paul Ryan, who has represented Wisconsin’s first congressional district, is retiring.

What will the legacy be of Ryan’s 20 year career in Washington? One of complete and utter failure.

Looming largest for the people of Wisconsin was his total inability to prevent the closure of the Janesville GM plant, which had provided significant employment to the area for 90 years.

Ryan will also be remembered for not having the balls to stand up against Trumpy the Clown with his insane outbursts and unpredictable shifts on every position that have made the United States a laughing stock to the rest of the world and has put us on the brink of nuclear war against two countries, so far.

Ryan, who for 20 years was touted as the Republican’s budget wunderkind despite never being able to pass one of his budgets, will now be remembered as the architect of the most financially ruinous budget ever passed, one that screws the middle class, widens the gap between the rich and the poor, all while crearing a fiscal conservative’s worst nightmare of an out-of-control deficit reaching record heights never before imagined.

Good riddance to bad rubbish, as they say. May Kharma make Ryan’s retirement as financially uncertain and and terrifyingly insecure as those of the elderly he has screwed, and tried to screw, over the years.

Once more for those in the back, social security insurance and Medicare are not entitlements, they are benefits we pay into throughout our working life.

Paul Ryan will not be missed.

Smart missiles, stupid leader

On April 11th, Trumpy the Clown tweeted: Russia vows to shoot down any and all missiles fired at Syria. Get ready Russia, because they will be coming, nice and new and “smart!” You shouldn’t be partners with a Gas Killing Animal who kills his people and enjoys it!

The next day, he then tweeted: Never said when an attack on Syria would take place. Could be very soon or not so soon at all! In any event, the United States, under my Administration, has done a great job of ridding the region of ISIS. Where is our “Thank you America?”

Wow. Trumpy the Clown sure has Russia guessing now, doesn’t he? “Will he? Won’t he? Golly gosh! The suspense is unnerving.”

When Trumpy’s lawyer had his office raided and files detained, Trumpy went on a twitter rant: “Attorney-Client privilesge is dead!” and “A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!”

He’s also ranted about his wall, about sending National Guard troops to the border, how our relations with Russia are the worst ever because of Meuller and the “Fake and Corrupt Russia Investigation.”

And today he’s ranting about Comey, calling him a “proven LEAKER & LIAR,” how everyone in Washington thought he should be fired (at least every one of the voices in Trumpy’s head, anyway), and so on and so forth.

Anyone else see the striking resemblance to Captain Queeg from “The Caine Mutiny?” Trumpy the Clown is sinking deeper and deeper into an arrogant, self-possessed, delusional paranoia. I predict he will soon tweet: Aah, but the strawberries that’s… that’s where I had them. They laughed at me and made jokes but I proved beyond a shadow of a doubt and with… geometric logic… that Crooked Hillary, that leaker Comey, the conflicted Meuller, and the Fake News are all out to get me and ruin America! But the people know I’m great… the best President… better than the failed Obama!

Sad!

It’s sad that we allow him to destroy the dignity of the office of the President of the United States and our country’s standing among the world community.

Forget impeachment.

Guys! The 25th Amendment is there for a reason: to rid ourselves of unstable, dangerous people like Trumpy the Clown.

Last word

It’s the weekend. It should be Spring, but it isn’t. Not that I’ve ever really seen a Spring here in Wisconsin. Maybe once, back in the 1960s, I think we may have had a real Spring with warming weather, April showers, and May flowers.

Either that, or I have a false memory courtesy of Al Jolson.

I do know that for as long as my wife and I have lived where we can plant flowers around the house, which is about 20 years, we’ve experienced a May where the ground was thawned enough and there was no danger of a killing frost to allow us to plant only a handful of times.

Despite my haiku suggesting otherwise, I’m never surprised or disappointed when it’s still cold in April or May. This is Wisconsin. Wisconsin doesn’t care what season your calendar says it should be.

Therefore, this weekend’s forecast of freezing rain, snow, ice, and a winter weather advisory is just par for the course.

Enjoy your weekend no matter what the weather.

Keep resisting.

And, as always, a song.

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A belated Writing Wednesday

Yes, I know it’s actually Thursday, but calling this Tachygraphy Thursday or even Teleautography Thursday don’t have the same ring as Writing Wednesday.

Anyway, I just wanted to share something that will demonstrate what a dope I can be while writing.

I’m closing in on the final edits. I’m down to the last 50 pages. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m finally nearing the finish line.

And then this happens:

If you recall, this is my urban fantasy fairy tale novel, so it has magic, gods, demons, faeries …

Oh! Speaking of faeries, the characters in the know — the ones familiar with the supernatural and cryotozoology — always call them faeries, spelled with the E. On the other hand, when mere mortals talk about them, with a smirk because they know they don’t exist, they say, fairies, with an I.

Will changing the spelling back and forth like that confuse the reader? Should I go with one common spelling?

OK, tangent over. The novel is filled with mythological beings and references to ancient historical sorcerers and philosophers, blah blah blah.

I’m at a point where my MC is being attacked by an Egyptian mythological creature and he has to remember a passage from the Egyptian Book of the Dead to save himself. As I’m editing, it suddenly occurs to me that the scene could use a humorous reference to why the MC would remember said passage in the first place. Therefore, I’m creating a short anecdote about how and why a certain ancient Egyptian magician/philosopher taught it to him.

But I don’t know the names of any ancient Egyptian magicians!

Now, instead of completing my edits so I can send it out to beta readers, I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of research.

(A gasp can be heard in the audience.)

Yes. Research!

And it looks like finishing edits today isn’t going to happen.

Tomorrow doesn’t look so promising either.

Anyone have any names of ancient Egyptian philosophers/sorcerers/priests they could throw my way?

Otherwise, I’ll be making a run to the library on my lunch hour.

Thanks.

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Writing Wednesday

I think I’m just procrastinating now.

I heard someone say, “What? You, procrastinate?”

I know, right? It may come as a shock to you, but if you look up “procrastinator” in the Dictionary, they have my picture. It’s a recent addition. Merriam-Webster sent me a concent form asking permission decades ago, but I kept putting off signing it.

Where was I?

Oh, regarding my current WIP, I think I’m at the procrastination stage.

For me, that’s the stage that comes after the editing stage has been more than satisfied. It’s where everything I look for on my editing list to correct has been fixed and I’m reading and rereading the story and just changing words to change words.

For example, take the sentence, “We appeared in the middle of the street to the sounds of horns honking and drivers swearing.”

In one pass I’ll change street to road. In the next pass I’ll change road to boulevard. And on and on, ad infinitum.

It means I’m done but I’m putting off the next step, which is either sending it to some beta readers or writing the cover letter and synopsis and sending it all to literary agents.

Wait. Maybe avenue works better.

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Writing Wednesday

I’m nearing the finish line for my current work-in-progress.

I’ve gone through most of my list of things to watch out for and words that need to be replaced, like too many buts, passive voice, overused adverbs, and things like that.

Now I’m reading and rereading each scene for voice, flow, and continuity errors.

I’m also adding little bits here and there to add foreshadowing or give more depth to the characters’ personalities.

When I’m done, which might take another few weeks, I can spell check it one last time, then start in on the fun stuff.

By fun stuff, I mean the query letter and synopsis.

And by fun stuff, I mean excruciatingly painful torture.

Then, when those two pieces are presentable, and if they haven’t driven me mad, then comes the truly fun part: sending out the agent queries!

Whoohoo! The good times just keep on rollin’.

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Writing Wednesday

In rereading my urban fantasy fairy tale, I came across a scene that I had pulled from the trunk novel I was using for donor parts.

The scene features the MC and another character, the MC’s friend who is also the Homicide Police Captain.

My MC is called in to look at what turns out to be a magic circle, used to summon demons, because he’s an expert on the esoteric. He is often called in by the Police to identify occultish symbols or objects. Not because anyone believes in the occult, but in the hopes that by giving the item a historical context they will have a better chance of assigning motives and tracking down suspects.

Now as I said, this is an old scene, one of the original scenes from my trunk novel that I had started 15 years ago.

In the scene, my MC meets the Police Captain in a corn field and together they head toward the murder scene.

On the way, they pass the Medical Examiner, who is leaving the scene, heading back to his car. He quips a few morbid jokes and is gone. Never to appear in the story again.

At the time, I thought nothing of that meeting with the ME, nor did any of my beta readers mention it. I knew nothing about writing crime scene fiction nor had I read many police procedurals.

But this week, I started thinking about it. Something nagged at me that the scene was inadequate. But what?

It occurred to me that the ME just leaving the scene, the bodies, without so much as a “How do you do?” was a little odd.

If you’ve ever watched the television show NCIS (or any of the hyper-graphic crime shows), you know that Ducky never just leaves the scene. He and his assistant are there investigating and providing Gibbs with a running inventory of findings. Then, after they’ve done all they can at the scene, Ducky tags and bags the bodies and ensures they get to his lab for the autopsy.

My ME, on the other hand, tells a few jokes and is gone.

Because I now have a better understanding of how (fictional) MEs work, I’m going to revise the scene.

The ME will still leave, still make some jokes, but now I’ll add some more dialog. The Captain will ask a few questions, including something like “Leaving already?” And the ME can respond, “I know how to deligate.”

At the crime scene I’ll add a few ME assistants and forensic techs, even giving some pertinent dialog about the bodies to one of them.

Why did I start thinking about this scene this week? My oldest son just started interning with the local Medical Examiner’s office and I guess that made me more conscious of what was going on in this story.

A writer’s job is never done. That’s because writers are always expanding their knowledge and always applying that knowledge to improve their writing.

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Friday roundup

A Friday Haiku

You can stand or kneel

Doesn’t matter which you do

But take off your hat!

Weigh-In Friday

I thought I’d get this out of the way first because the rest of this blog is political ranting. You have been warned.

My weight is up 0.4 pounds to 203.2 pounds. Way up from the beginning of August when I was down to 19i.6 pounds.

It’s frustrating to lose traction like this. I don’t believe I’m eating more, althoigh I have been eating pb&j for lunch instead of salads.

But the main problem, I believe, was my tinkering with my blood pressure meds, which caused me to bloat up to 208.

I’ll really have to crack down on all extra snacking, get motivated to exercise harder, and see where I stand next week.

It’s always so disheartening to lose ground.

Writing progress

My manuscript is coming along nicely. As mentioned last week, I’m going through my list of search words (and even added a few more, “just” and “that”), and making my sentences more concise.

And my mind stays in writing/rewriting even when I’m not in front of the computer, revising scenes in my head. Then I have to hope I remember it by the time I get to the computer. So far, I have.

One thing happened that I thought was interesting. My mind had two scenes, completely unrelated, that it was mentally revising simultaneously. Don’t ask me how that’s even possible, but it happened and I can’t explain it.

And when I made those edits to the scenes, they flowed better, were much tighter, and, I hope, will have a more visceral impact upon the reader.

The take a knee controversy

Let me tell you right off, this is much ado about nothing. As a veteran, I’m more offended by the assholes who don’t remove their hats or talk during the playing of the National Anthem then I am about how people choose to be reverent.

Let me also say, that when joining the military we take an oath to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America (as well as the Prdsident, which makes me glad I don’t serve under the orange turd).

I did not take any oath to protect and defend the flag or the National Anthem or to care one way or the other if someone is allegedly, according to said orange turd, disrespecting said flag or anthem.

Additionally, nowhere in the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, or the Amendments to the Constitution does it mention anything about the flag or anthem.

It does, however, mention a little thing called FREEDOM OF SPEECH. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s in the First Amendment. Go read it and shut the fuck up.

And take off your goddammed hat, asshole.

Respecting the flag

No one cared about the flag until the orange turd started his tweet shitstorm against the NFL.

If people actually cared about the flag, they wouldn’t allow it in advertising. They wouldn’t use it as “wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”

If people cared about the flag, they wouldn’t use it as decoration or have it “embroidered, printed, or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.

But the same people up in arms about someone kneeling before the flag ignore how they themselves disrespect the flag every day.

Go read the United States Flag Code and shut the fuck up.

Are you really concerned about disrespect for our flag? Complain to advertisers when they use it. When you see a tattered and worn flag flying outside a business, call them and let them know they should replace it. If a business leaves the flag out overnight but has no special lighting on it, complain about that, too.

Archie Bunker lives

All in the Family was a sitcom that ran for nine seasons from 1971 to 1979. Created by Norman Lear, it dealt with some heavyweight issues of the day, like race, homosexuality, and other taboo subjects, and centered around the character of Archie Bunker, an ignorant racist, bigot, misogynist, homophobe, who loudly expressed his beliefs in every stereotype imaginable. He was meant to be so utterly foolish and exaggerated in those beliefs that it would allow us to see just how absurd bigotry in our society was.

Archie Bunker was never meant to be a role model, and yet, he certainly became that to an entire segment of the population known today as the deplorables. They even elected an Archie Bunker clone as President!

A clone that spouts ignorance, hatred, and prejudicial views daily from his Twitter pulpit.

The more we go forward in this country, the more the deplorables try to drag us back. Sad!

Master of Deception

Archie Bunker is, excuse me, TheRump is a master of deception and misdirection. He’s like a stage magician who distracts us with one hand while he does the actual illusion with the other hand.

In the case of the orange turd, he distracts us with tweets about silly, unimportant things, like the NFL taking a knee, in order to keep us from seeing what’s in his other hand.

In this case, he’s trying to hide the Russian investigation into collusion and influencing the election, the use of private emails by his family and Administration, the vote in Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare (which luckily we saw and it failed…again), the fact that he was going to ignore the plight of Puerto Rico (and didn’t even know they were Americans!), and the current GOP proposal to “streamline” the tax code.

The GOP doesn’t want us to take a look at their tax proposal, because if we did we’d see it is just more of the same old GOP nonsense of lowering taxes on the rich and corporations and making the middle class foot the bill.

For example, the elimination of the estate tax is being touted as a great benefit to the middle class. Bullshit. It’s going to benefit the first family, their cronies, and many serving inside that regime. The rest of us? Unless you’re expecting to inherit an estate worth more than $5.45 million, this tax will never affect us. So don’t let them bullshit you that this helps the middle class.

Another example, the current economic advisor, Gary Cohn stated that the typical American family making $100,000.00 a year would save $1,000.00 with the GOP plan. The reality is, the typical American family only makes $74,000.00, while the median American family only makes $55,000.00, half of his estimate. In other words, although they say the middle class will benefit, they don’t even know what the middle class is!

In fact, the GOP tax plan is just more trickle down voodoo Reaganomics. This gives tax breaks to the wealthy, who then go on the piss on the rest of us.

Stop being distracted!

Tha-tha-tha-that’s all folks!

And that concludes another Friday roundup. I hate that current events and a certain orange turd force me to write political rants, I’d rather write about something fun, as I’m sure you’d rather read something fun, but it is cathartic, and it is necessary we continue to resist and obstruct this white nationist regime.

So, have a great weekend and keep on fighting the good fight.

I leave you with a protest song I’ve already posted on my Facebook and Twitter feed. It should be obvious it’s NSFW. Enjoy!

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Writing Wednesday with Chekhov’s gun

“One must not put a loaded rifle on the stage if no one is thinking of firing it.” — Anton Chekhov, from an 1889 letter to playwright Aleksandr Semenovich

“If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.” — from Gurlyand’s Reminiscences of A. P. Chekhov

“If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on a wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” — Anton Chekhov, quoted by S. Shchukin, Memoirs

Anton Chekhov’s oft-quoted piece of writing advice, often referred to simply as “Chekhov’s gun,” is a literary concept that means every element introduced in a story must be necessary to the plot or it is superfluous and should be removed.

In other words, you should remove all false guns from your writing. This applies not just to physical objects and characters, but irrelevant scenes that don’t advance the story, as well.

gw077-chekhovs_gun

I bring up Chekhov’s gun because as I was reading through my own manuscript, I found one. I missed it my first read-through, however, it must have made an impression upon my subconscious because while I was sitting enjoying a cup of coffee (Sumatra from CoffeeIcon. Yum!)j Saturday morning while watching an episode of Star Trek on BBC America, it popped into my head.

“The knife!”

I immediately wrote knife on a notepad and placed it on my computer to remind me.

“Well? What about the knife?” I hear you ask.

I’m getting to that. Patience, young grasshopper.

I have a scene in my manuscript where my MC, an expert in things occult, and his friend, who happens to be a captain with homicide of the local police department, are together investigating a recent gruesome murder scene when one of the investigating officers discovers an ancient obsidian knife.

The knife turns out to be evidence from an earlier murder that the MC believes was a human sacrifice in a ritual to summon a demon.

The MC takes a picture of the knife and sends it to an expert in early Mesoamerican civilizations, who is aiding the MC in the hunt for the demon, in the hopes that he can identify the artifact.

When I had introduced the knife, I had fully intended to have it serve as a significant clue and later my MC and his Mesoamerican expert would get together to discuss where the knife had originally come from.

One thought I had was the knife was an actual museum piece stolen from an Aztec museum somewhere Central or South America and it would help the police to finally identify the killer.

The thing is I never mentioned the knife again!

That’s right. I placed the knife there for the reader to see and then I completely forgot about it.

Now, however, all sorts of new scenarios are presenting themselves on how to make use of the knife, including, but not limited to, adding needed information to not only identify where the killer came from, but also to help develop the relationship between the MC and his police captain friend.

I did a quick Google search just now and found a cool Aztec ceremonial knife that would work, but unfortunately, that knife is held in the British Museum nor is it ancient enough, which means it won’t work in my story. Shame.

aztec ceremonial knife

I’ve got more research to do. Down the rabbit hole I go!

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