Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fantastic Beasts, Not So Fantastic Effects

One of the Harry Potter series bonus books is a slim volume called Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by Newt Scamander. This small book, written and illustrated by J.K. Rowling, describes the creatures of her magical world. All the profits were donated to Comic Relief UK. I was scanning it this morning--Frick had dropped it on the floor by his bed, and since it had text, well, I had to pick it up--and came across this interesting description:


...A three-headed serpent, the Runespoor commonly reaches a length of six or seven feet...each of the Runespoor's heads serves a different purpose. The left head (as seen by the wizard facing the Runespoor) is the planner. It decides where the Runespoor is to go and what it is to do next. The middle head is the dreamer (Runespoors may remain stationary for days at a time, lost in glorious visions and imaginings). The right head is the critic and will evaluate the efforts of the left and middle heads with a continual irritable hissing. The right head's fangs are extremely venomous.

I don't know about you, but I started thinking all writerly at that point. As in, a Runespoor is a lot like me--or vice versa. With all the activity up there, it feels like three different heads are arguing. All writers have a planner (mine for writing is a bit stuck at the moment), and certainly a dreamer. And without a doubt, we have a critic.

Ah, yes, the vicious inner critic. The one that tells you that you're no good, that you're wasting your time, that writing is a pointless effort and there's no sense in blowing all that nice housecleaning time on piffle such as novels or characters and suchlike. You know, that head. The one that rules the roost, especially if you are, as many writers can be, even the slightest bit neurotic or oversensitive.

If I polled all my writer friends, I wouldn't be surprised to find that they all have that third Runespoor head, venomous and constantly hissing. Why do you bother? That's dreck. That book's worse. That heroine is TSTL. That hero deserves to get his brawny ass kicked. You stink. Shouldn't you be taking up knitting? And so on, and so on, and so on. Hey, we're writers. We can come up with creative ways to say "you suck" all the time!

Maybe we should take our cue from Rowling, who informs us that:

The Runespoor rarely reaches a great age, as the heads tend to attack each other. It is common to see a Runespoor with the right head missing, the other two heads having banded together to bite it off.

Guess it's about time to bite that bad boy off. I have a book to write next month.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ten Favorite Horror Movies

  1. The Others
  2. Halloween
  3. The Terminator
  4. Signs
  5. The Shining
  6. Alien
  7. Aliens
  8. The Silence of the Lambs
  9. The Howling
  10. The Blair Witch Project (this one only works if you have a great imagination)
  11. Really, though, anything with the Olson twins in it

Monday, October 27, 2008

What Kind of Halloween Candy Are You?

Um, yeah. Scary, but yeah.

What Your Love of Nerds Says About You

No doubt about it, you're a bit of a geek.

You're a bit offbeat in an appearance, but you're still real cute.

You don't care much about what other people think. You're too busy doing your own thing!

You're definitely one of a kind - and in your case, that's a very good thing.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Whassssssup!! 2008 Edition

No matter which way you plan to vote, you have to admit this is brills:

Friday, October 24, 2008


Heh heh heh...Dana Summers is on my weird little wavelength with today's Bound and Gagged:

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Stephen King's "Who Says Men Don't Read" column from Entertainment Weekly, a late September installment of his "The Pop of King" column (yes, I'm behind in my reading), provides some interesting food for thought about genre fiction in general, but the divide of the sexes in particular. In countering the industry's moanings that "men don't read anymore!," King has this to say:
Here's a concept so simple it's easy to miss: What men want from an Elmore Leonard novel is exactly what women want from a Nora Roberts novel — escape and entertainment. And while it's true that manfiction can be guilty of objectifying women, chick lit often does the same thing to men. Reading Sandra Brown or Jodi Picoult, I'm sometimes reminded of an old Julie Brown song, ''I Like 'Em Big and Stupid.'' One memorable couplet goes, ''My father's out of Harvard, my brother's out of Yale/Well, the guy I took home last night just got out of jail.''
Sounds like David Allan Coe's "You Never Even Call Me By My Name" (aka "the ultimate country song"), doesn't it? Especially the "I was drunk the day my mama got out of prison" line. King goes on to ask,

Is this a bad thing? From an entertainment standpoint, I'd say not. Women like stories in which a gal meets a handsome (and possibly dangerous) hunk on a tropic isle; men like to imagine going to war against an army of bad guys with a Beretta, a blowtorch, and a submachine gun (grenades hung on the belt optional).

I'm thinking no. I've read plenty of blowtorch fiction in my life--the entire Robert Ludlum canon, for one thing, seasoned with Trevanian and Ken Follett--and I have to say that King's spot on the mark, as usual. There's nothing wrong with escapist fiction. We've gone through whole decades (Great Depression, I'm talkin' 'bout you) where most of the movies were pure fluff. When times are hard, it takes something special to get you to read about hard times, The Grapes of Wrath being a prime example. But when you're hungry and worried and dreading the phone call from the bank or the credit card company, you're much more likely to go for Bringing Up Baby than you are Million Dollar Baby.

So you go, girls--Nora and company--who make us laugh and cry and forget our troubles. But we might want to hunt up some mayhem-ly manfiction, too. Sometimes, the happy ending needs a little seasoning. Grenades work.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Annual Dose of Crazy

So two years ago I decide to throw the biggest wrench in the world into my already packed schedule and do NaNoWriMo. Thirty days, fifty thousand words--one month to a complete first draft of a novel. Normally, I'm a save-it-up-behind-the-dam gal. I'll think and fidget and think and ponder and then finally sit down and blurt out whole chapters at a time. Those chapters tend to be relatively nicely written, so rewrites are actually fun and quickly productive.

But a novel in a month seemed challenging and maybe fun, so I tried it. Won, the first year (had to cough up over 10k on the last day of November), came close the second (9k to go, but didn't have the steam). So now I'm on the precipice. It's mid-October. Go for the crazy, or try to stay sane.

Bonus points for crazy: book written. Bonus points for sane: sanity. Not overrated if you're a mom, I must say. So, which should it be? I'd be way behind in the idea area this time. The first go-round, I'd been thinking about the story a lot beforehand. Last year, I had more to go on, but ran out of steam. This year, pretty much ground zero. Maybe a name or two, a paper-thin premise (think one sentence). A title. Think I should go for it?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Ten Bands/Artists That Remind You of High School

  1. Bruce Springsteen - "tramps like we were born to run!"
  2. Duran Duran - "...and I'm hungry like the wolf!"
  3. R.E.M. - " free Europe..."
  4. John Cougar Mellencamp - "...little ditty 'bout Jack and Diane..."
  5. The Police - "don't stand...don't stand so...don't stand so close to me..."
  6. The Pretenders - " I'm back on the train, yeah....oooooohhh....back on the chain gang..."
  7. Blondie - "...once I loved, and it was a gas--'til it turned out...had a heart of glass..."
  8. Rush - "...a modern day warrior, mean mean stride, today's Tom Sawyer mean mean pride..."
  9. Journey - " now I cooooooooome to yooooooouuuu with ooooooopen aaaaaarms..."
  10. Foreigner - "...everybody's workin' for the weekend!"
How totally eighties is that list? And I could go on and on and on, kind of like the Sugar Hill Gang.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Leaf Peepin'

mimi père and Wicked have lived in the mountains for seven years now, and this is the first time we've visited in the fall. Leaf peepers, the locals call those of us who slow down traffic and wander about agape. But can you blame us? Check these out:

Autumn. Le sigh. I have a sudden urge to go read some Keats.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

You're Lucky Enough

Woke up to this today:

As the little plaque in the powder room says, "If you're lucky enough to be in the mountains, you're lucky enough."

Monday, October 06, 2008

Staying Young

Happy B-Day to me! Normally birthdays involve lots of soul-searching and whatnot, but I think the best advice for staying young is courtesy of baseball's legendary Satchel Paige:
  1. Avoid fried meats, which angry up the blood.
  2. If your stomach disputes you, lie down and pacify it with cool thoughts.
  3. Keep your juices flowing by jangling around gently as you move.
  4. Go very gently on the vices, such as carrying on in society--the social ramble ain't restful.
  5. Avoid running at all times.
  6. Don't look back--something might be gaining on you.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Meme From Hell

Dara over at Slave to Romance is dead meat. I spent all day with her in a workshop yesterday, and she didn't say she'd tagged me for this meme! (Okay, not really dead meat, since she is so very nice, but paybacks may be in order.) Here we go, the longest meme in the world:

1. What is your occupation? Teacher, writer, mom, Chief Cook and Bottlewasher
2. What color are your socks right now? No socks unless it's cold outside; I'm a barefoot Florida gal!
3. What are you listening to right now? The background music for Zelda: Twilight Princess that Frick is playing
4. What was the last thing that you ate? chocolate layer cake for dessert last night (no breakfast yet)
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Inga is a stick shift
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? ultramarine
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? DH
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes, even though she is a Sneaky Pete for tagging and not telling!
9. Favorite drink? iced tea or Dr Pepper
10. What is your favorite sport to watch? baseball, especially live with a score pad and a great hot dog
11. Have you ever dyed your hair? not any more! mimi will admit to the aubergine rinse if pressed, but will claim in her defense that it was the 80s
12. Pets? three dogs
13. Favorite food? Southern cooking, Italian, or Mexican
14. Last movie you watched? A Lot Like Love
15. Favorite Day of the year? the last day of school
16. What do you do to vent anger? fume and scream and run away from home
17. What was your favorite toy as a child? my Breyer horses
18. What is your favorite, fall or spring? fall
19. Hugs or kisses? hugs
20. What kind of pie? key lime or pecan
21. Living arrangements? 4B2b house that's never clean
22. When was the last time you cried? yesterday, having to read W.H. Auden's "Funeral Blues" at the writer's workshop ("Stop all the clocks...")
23. What is on the floor of your closet? too many shoes and last night's pajamas
24. Favorite smell? freshly cut grass
25. What inspires you? people who do amazing things for the right people, the fearless creativity of children
26. What are you afraid of? falling
27. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? cheese
28. Favorite car? Inga makes me quite happy, thank you. Who wouldn't be happy with a convertibeetle?
29. Favorite cat breed? mimi does not do cat. Ever. mimi has two Brittanys and a Cocker Spaniel.
30. Number of keys on your key ring? 3
31. How many years at your current job? 21
32. Favorite day of the week? Tuesday
33. How many states/provinces have you lived in? five--Tennessee, North Carolina (twice), South Carolina, Ohio (yegods!), and Florida
34. How many countries have you been to? 3
35. How much do you love "Knowing Me, Knowing You" by ABBA? I know all the words and can sing it very, very loud--but it's not my favorite ABBA song.
36. The name of the first person you kissed (romantically)? Jon.
DH is a far better kisser, though.
37. Are you the oldest child, youngest child, middle or only?
38. What is your favorite TV series currently still on?
Heroes or CSI
39. What is your favorite book right now?
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It does great things for your creative soul.
40. How many children do you have?
117. Only two of them are my own personal children, though. The rest I mother from 8:30-4:30 on weekdays.
41. Literary character you would most like to meet:
Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice

Okay, Contract in 12 gals (that means you, Dancing Deb and "Lefty"); tag, you're it!

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