"Keep scribbling! Something will happen." Frank McCourt

Monday, January 19, 2015

Sticks and Stones…, but names….

Call me Patricia is something my sister would never say, thanks to me. If you would like your throat punched, you may call her Patricia.  I'll leave that up to you. But at some point in our childhood, I decided to change her name from Tammy to Patricia. I don't remember any good reason for calling her a different name (for a short time) except to be annoying. 

Sticks and Stones may break my bones (and kill), but names will never hurt me. Umm, yes they do. 
There's power in a name. Some of the names I was called as a youth: Red (because of my reddish brown hair), freckles (well you know why), and TP (for toilet paper otherwise known as my initials). 
Names are important. We think long and hard about naming our children the perfect name. Our pets often get the same treatment. We may move from a childhood name of Tommy to Tom or Kathy to Kathryn. 

Names are a part of our identity. 
Here are book characters names you might recognize:
  • Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler.  (Gone with the Wind)
  • Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games)
  • Harry Potter (no not the character from MASH), Lord Voldemort, Draco Malfoy (Harry Potter Series)
  • Bella Swan, Edward Cullen (Twilight Series)
What about Rocky Balboa, Brad Pitt or Cher?  Are these names you recognize?

When I'm looking to name a character, I look at: 
  • Movie credits
  • Baby books
  • Yearbooks (not my own, that could complicate things)
  • Phone books
Here are some other people who have thought too much about choosing the right names for their characters.  

Writer’s Digest Magazine offers seven (brilliant) rules for naming Characters.
But if you can only handle six creative ways to name your characters check out The Write Life.
If you're feeling wild and crazy, peruse these top ten tips for naming characters at The Script Lab
My name means to reap and gather in or a harvester. Famous Teresa's are Mother Teresa, Teresa Brewer (singer) and Teresa Giudice, (Real Housewife of NJ who is in hot water). What does your name mean? If you're a writer where do you find your character names?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Sunday Reflection: Life Junk and Enemy Chases

A long time ago, in what seems like a land far, far away, I went through a divorce. During that time, I was severely depressed, but didn’t have Dr. Lovely Daughter’s expertise, as yet, to tell me to get professional help (although she has bossed me her entire life). :)
During that time, I floated from day to day, wanting the turmoil to end. I cried a lot. I retreated. I prayed. I got really skinny. What I remember most about that time (and I journaled about it) were the miracles—the ones I saw in action. I know there were those I didn’t get to see, too. The one thing I knew for sure during that time was that because of my faith in God, and even at my lowest points, I knew I was never alone.
There are so many awesome accounts of miracles in the Bible like 2 Corinthians 11 where it documents Paul's struggle to stay alive in his journey to tell others of Jesus. Guess what? Paul's enemies didn’t win that battle.
In the end, God wins the battle.  
Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn?
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.” 2 Corinthians 11:24-33 (NIV) (Emphasis mine)
When I’m in the middle of life junk and enemy chases, “...where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth”. Psalm 121
Blessings to you all,

Monday, January 12, 2015

Giving Zombies Another Stab

So, I’ve given zombies another stab. No I’m not wielding a sword to slice off their heads or shooting a crossbow arrow into their skulls, I’m watching it again on free TV.  Let me start at the beginning.
A couple of years ago, I “netflixed” season one of THE WALKING DEAD--a show about zombies. I watched a couple of the episodes, but because it was too scary, I sent it back. In the meantime, I didn't forget how I (sort of) enjoyed it. When I found it showing on a local TV channel, I gave it another chance while thinking it wouldn't be as scary.
That's the lie I told myself.
Except for a few challenges, I look forward to watching back to back episodes, once a week of THE WALKING DEAD. One challenge I’ve run into is that when Millie visits the great outdoors for her last toilet run, of the night, I hear the rustlings of a Zombie community in my old (I don’t go in there anymore) shed. Millie looks, too, so I’m sure they are there.
There’s also a problem with family dinners. After we’re finished eating (mostly) my son and I talk zombies along with my sister sometimes. For some reason, this does not encourage the appetites of the others.
But my real observations, on THE WALKING DEAD, has to do with the lifestyle of a typical zombie. Here they are.
  1. Are there no well-dressed zombies? Who decided that zombies have to walk dead in tattered clothing?
  2. Do they ever kiss each other and if so, how to they do this (with those nasty mouths)?
  3. Are there any zombie vegetarians? If so, how does that work? And is my veggie garden in danger?
  4. Finally, did they get the idea of the zombie character's body movement and mood from the non-morning, pre-coffee people (like me)?
I won’t say never, but I’m pretty certain I will not be writing zombie stories. This is mainly because I would have to watch my back the entire time I'm writing, and that would be difficult to do. 
For all you zombies out there here’s my quote for the day, “You’re not really living, until you’re dead.” -T. Powell Coltrin (Unless someone else wrote it.)
From Wikipedia here’s an article on Zombies. It appears the concept of zombies goes way back, before Millie was born.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Sunday Reflection: Reminders

Wow! My first day back at work and I’m bombarded, not only by student problems, but with staff issues. These included deaths, hospitalizations, cancer, and pending budget cuts. It’s not like I was eager to go back to work, after a wonderful two week Christmas break as it was, but to go back and see the sadness and stress of my colleagues gave me my own level of stress. All rest and relaxation seemed to exit my psyche when I found out "others" were suffering.
As it often does, my memory pulled up a familiar Bible verse to help me fight off the blues:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7  (Emphasis mine.)

On a good day, my memory is bad and seems to grow worse each year, but I rarely have problems remembering the Bible verses I’ve learned. This is because God reminds me in Spirit that He is with me and penetrates my heart with faith. From there, the revelation seems to bubble upward to my brain, and I find comfort.  It’s a God thing.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Trash Planting

It started around Thanksgiving. I ate one thing then another until I found myself thinking about goodies and where I could find them. After that, everywhere I went, there were sugary, fat laden foods to feast on. So I ate and ate and (one more) ate until my waistbands groaned in agony. Of course, that could have been the sound of my skin stretching.

Eww, right? 

It was about a week before our Christmas break, after I threw away three empty candy bar wrappers that someone had gifted me, or I stole, (I don't know) that I began wondering what the custodian thought of all the junky wrappers and paper plates that had been filling up my trashcan, daily.

Vanity seems to be my harasser. I know this about myself. Even though I was being bad by eating everything in sight (none of which were fruits and veggies), I didn’t want to look bad.

So I contemplated on how not to leave evidence of my gluttony, you know, as if I were not binging on sweets, dips, cheeses and sausage. I wanted to continue enjoying the bounty. 

Could I:
  • Carry the stuff in my hand and not use a plate (omitting the evidence).
  • Eat only candies with no wrappers (evidence).
  • Use tissue, instead of napkins, to wipe the sugar and chocolate substances from my face, but blow (or act like I did) my nose before tossing it in the trash (red herring).
  • Throw my wrappers and/or plates in the trashcans of teachers who were on break (red herring).
  • Eat the stuff where the food was offered and throw the trash in with everyone else’s (contaminated evidence).  
  • Set up my own bag inside the trash bag provided me, then smuggle it out in my own car, and when I went home dump it in my dumpster (scattering evidence). OR
  • Not eat the junk in the first place, which didn’t happen (leaving no evidence at all because there wouldn't be any).  
Thinking back, because of vanity, I wanted to control the custodian's thoughts toward me and pretend I didn’t eat the holiday goodies in excess. 

Of course, I ended up not doing any of those things, but I did in the process think about how my desperate creative ways to disguise my trash output is a lot like writing a mystery. 

As I mentioned, I've been restructuring Mona’s book. I’m figuring out where I need to insert clues, false leads all the while hoping hoping the reader is somewhat surprised. I want them to fish for red herrings, but when they pull in the line—no fishy. 

Evidence can be placed carelessly, with motive or any number of ways, but it needs to be believable. By the end of the book, I want the reader to honesty say, I didn’t see that coming, and I like it. 

Need help with deceit, or I like to call clue trash planting? Read these helpful articles.

Using your words to steer in Three Tips for Creating Evocative Prose by Janice Hardy

Don’t Drop Clues; Place them Carefully by Stephen Rogers talks about the types of clues and misdirecting them.  

How did Agatha Christie do it? The Christie Mystery will tell you in Clues and Red Herrings.

On another note, Millie and I had a great Christmas holiday with our family. She behaved, wasn't too overwhelmed and enjoyed her gifts. I saw two movies (without Millie): Big Hero 6 with 3 out of 4 grand babes and Into the Woods with Dr. Lovely Daughter. They were both great movies. 

I want to apologize for the horrible formatting here. Not my fault. I'm on my last nerve with Blogger formatting. 

Did you have any fun during the holidays?