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Breathing Life Into Characters February 26, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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Tim Dorsey knows how to breathe life into his characters.

In a single paragraph, he describes 7 characters using brief sketches, allowing readers to flesh in the rest:

* Major Fletcher ~ steady leader with blond hair, a close shave, and a square dependable jaw

* Lee Barnes ~ a crusty and foul-mouthed veteran with hangover stubble and a footlocker of vintage Playboys

* Milton “Bananas” Foster ~ a highly excitable yet gifted mechanical wizard

* Marilyn Sebastian ~ a plucky aerial reconnaissance officer, as tough as any man, but every bit a woman

* Pepe Miguelito ~ a forlorn youth with pencil mustaches and unending girl troubles

* “Tiny” Baxter ~ a massive country boy from Oklahoma with simple but strong values

* William Honeycutt ~ a former bantamweight champion

Dorsey provides enough detail to bring his characters to life . . . without beating them to death.

Sometimes a skeletal outline or quick sketch connects us to a character faster than too many extraneous details.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related post:  Explanations (Candid Impressions) * Two Writers Debate: Pantsing vs. Plotting (Eric John Baker) * The End is Never the End (Grannymar)

Mumbo Jumbo . . . and Sambo January 14, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Happiness, Humor, Spirit & Ego.
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You know you’ve grown in spirit . . . when external turmoil does not disturb the peace and tranquility you feel within.

You know you’ve grown in compassion . . . when angry words tossed your way make you want to alleviate the suffering of the person doing the tossing, without first wanting to defend your own position.

You know you’ve found your bliss and are headed the right way . . . when your spirit is soaring and work feels like play.

And that’s no Mumbo Jumbo!

Aah . . . that’s better!

When I googled “Mumbo Jumbo” to learn the origin of the expression, one of the links transported me back in time to . . . Mumbo, Jumbo, and Sambo.

The Story of Little Black Sambo is a children’s book written and illustrated by Helen Bannerman, first published by Grant Richards in October 1899 as one in a series of small-format books called The Dumpy Books for Children:

Sambo is a South Indian boy who encounters four hungry tigers, and surrenders his colourful new clothes, shoes, and umbrella so they will not eat him. The tigers are vain and each thinks he is better dressed than the others. They chase each other around a tree until they are reduced to a pool of melted butter. Sambo then recovers his clothes and his mother makes pancakes out of the butter.

The story has been retold a time or two in different settings with changed names.  For example, in “Little Kim,” a storybook and cassette as part of the Once Upon a Time Fairy Tale Series, Sambo is called “Kim,” his father Jumbo is “Tim,” and his mother Mumbo is “Sim.”

For more on the history and resurrection of Little Black Sambo ~ New Takes on an Old Story (L.A.Times, 9/8/96)

Know-It-Alls January 9, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Joke, People, Poetry.
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Books, authors, words ~ how
vast the stacks. No know-it-all
ever knows it all.

And you can tell him I said so.

Aah . . . that’s better!

Do you know any know-it-alls?

Do you view them as a ready reference and reliable resource obviating the need for further research on your part?

Related posts:  Empty Your Cup * The Urge to Pontificate (Candid Impressions)

Wading Through Sot-Weeds January 8, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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My favorite thing about writing is its complete and utter autonomy:

* My book.
* My rules.
* My choice of characters.

Anyone who writes a book, play, or screenplay gets to choose the world, the setting, the time period, and the people populating center stage.

That said, readers do have a voice.

When following the threads of a story, I enjoy a sense of continuity.  Imagery and poetry in perpetuity are not enough for me.  I need something to hang my hat on or my attention wanes.

“Sot-Weed Factor” fan
proclaims it ~ “the best English
written novel yet”

Hopes high, I dove deep
where obscure digressions and
parodies parade

Wading through Sot-Weeds
grew cruelly tiresome, I
turned to other worlds

Reading a voluminous tome or treatise filled with esoteric references holds little appeal . . . when the whole forest is out there waiting to be explored.

That’s my favorite thing about reading ~ the complete and utter autonomy to choose whether to remain in an author’s audience or turn to other words and other worlds.

Aah . . . that’s better!

While writing this post, I learned I’m not alone in my unwillingness to wade through Barth’s laborious labors:

“John Barth’s “The Sot-Weed Factor” is a brilliantly specialized performance, so monstrously long that reading it seemed nearly as laborious as writing it. Obviously Barth (author previous of “The End of the Road” and “The Floating Opera”) believed he needed these approximately 500,000 words to achieve his effects. Few will agree with him, for though he abounds in excellent satirical devices he is addicted to repeating them.”

* * *

“Though it is not for all palates, it is possible that Barth’s book may be cherished by its true audience for some time to come.”

Fuller, Edmond, “The Joke is on Mankind,” NY Times, August 21, 1960.

Have you read The Sot-Weed Factor?  

Did you consume its 500,000 words in one gulp or spit it out before digesting its divergent digressions?

Related posts:  The Clean (Book)Plate Club *  Andrew Zimmern’s Picks Don’t Appeal

Self-Publishing ~ Pros and Cons June 25, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Humor, Life Lessons, Writing & Writers.
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IMGP4187There are two main avenues (with lots of cross streets, thoroughfares, and traffic to traverse) when you’re ready to publish your words as a book or e-book:

* Find a publisher

* Be a publisher

Both approaches have Pros . . . and Cons.

When you self-publish, you have complete control over the process ~ from the title of your book, to its length, to the design you select for the cover.

You get to call all the shots.

You don’t have to send queries to agents or publishers to get them to sign on to the project.  Once you’re satisfied that your words flow in the intended direction, you can upload to Create Space on Amazon (or elsewhere) and send your words out to the World.

On the downside, if you self-publish:

(1) You won’t receive the external validation that comes from hearing an agent and/or publisher say they believe in the worth of your words enough to invest time and energy in marketing your book.

Who needs them?

If your book sales skyrocket, you’ll receive even more potent validation directly from readers (or the Academy!) ~> “you like me, you really like me.”

(2) You won’t get the benufit of professhunal etiding unless you higher someone to fill that roll for you.

(3) You have to wear three hats ~ writer, publisher, and agent.  For writers who are already borderline schizophrenic, this can be a real challenge.  They must struggle to quiet the voices in their heads long enough to come up with a viable marketing plan, handle press releases (to create a buzz), and set up book signings.

If this is a problem for you, here’s the solution:  Assign each role (writer, publisher, agent) to a different voice or character.  Let them brainstorm together while you go out and get donuts.

Despite its challenges, self-publishing is a legitimate tradition which allows authors to make more money, get to press sooner, and maintain complete control of their work.

Need more convincing?

Many well-known and/or best-selling authors have self-published ~ Mark Twain, Edgar Allen Poe, Benjamin Franklin, Rudyard Kipling, Henry David Thoreau, Anais Nin, Thomas Paine, etc..

Here’s a few contemporary examples:

* Richard Nelson Bolles, What Color is Your Parachute?

* James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy ~ over 5.5 million copies sold

* Strunk & White, The Elements of Style

* John Grisham, A Time To Kill ~ first sold out of the trunk of his car

* Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box ~ later sold to Simon & Schuster for $4.2 million

If they can do it, so can you.  (Once you quiet those voices in your head.)

Aah . . . that’s better!

Related posts:  Truths About Self-Publishing (Linda Cassidy Lewis) * Self-doubt, self-publishing, and other selfish writer-isms (Eric J. Baker) * One Year Later ~ Self-Publishing Review (Christine M. Grote) * How to Make an E-Book Using Open Office * The Thrill of Victory & The Agony of Defeat!

And from Global Mysteries:  How to Promote Your Book For FREE * How to Do an Author’s Book Event * What to do When a Publisher Rejects Your Novel 

Believe It Or Not! May 18, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fun & Games, Synchronicity & Mystery.
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I grew up reading books by Ripley, filled with unbelievable oddities and amazing facts, but seldom paused to consider the man behind the cartoons.

A Curious Man: The Strange & Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley,  by Neal Thompson, reveals this real life Wizard of Odd.

“The life story of Robert ‘Believe It or Not!’ Ripley is as intriguing as the many oddities in which he delighted.”
~ Entertainment Weekly

“An engaging, fast-moving biography… makes the case that Ripley was among the first media celebrities, and that his affection for the grotesque and the extreme shaped American pop culture.”
~ Columbus Dispatch

“Ripley’s amazing American life itself plays out like an impossible fairy tale.”
~ Kirkus Reviews

“A Curious Man is the marvelously compelling biography of Robert “Believe It or Not” Ripley, the enigmatic cartoonist turned globetrotting millionaire who won international fame by celebrating the world’s strangest oddities, and whose outrageous showmanship taught us to believe in the unbelievable.”
~ Amazon

Ripley’s efforts to counter claims that he was “stretching the truth” resulted in the fascinating and fun array of artifacts displayed in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not! Museums around the globe.

Once could say that Ripley’s curated collections are the fantastic and amusing consequence of calling a man a liar . . .

“I venture to say that I have been called a liar more often than anybody in the world.  Ordinarily, when one is called a liar, one feels hurt.  But it is different with me.  I do not mind it a bit.  When I am called a liar by a reader of my cartoons, I feel flattered.  That short and ugly word is like music to my ears.  I am complimented because it means to me that my cartoon contained some strange fact that was unbelievable ~ and therefore most interesting, and that the reader did not know the truth when he saw it.” ~ Robert Ripley

Did you read any of Ripley’s books of wonders, miracles, freaks, monstrosities, and almost-impossibilities?

Did you Believe it or Not! ?

Aah . . . that’s better!

What Have You Created Lately? May 17, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Art & Photography, Books & Movies, Food & Drink, People.
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catladyIn life, we have two principal roles  . . . consumers and creators.

Why do we create?

To fill our hearts, homes, and hours with more satisfying fare than watching endless reruns of Seinfeld or I Love Lucy while mindlessly stuffing our pie holes with Hostess Twinkies.

Parents create offspring to nurture.  Cooks create meals to savor and share. Musicians create music.  Artists create paintings, statues, collages, quilts, jewelry.  Photographers create Kodak moments and memories.  Architects create buildings, bridges, and alleyways.  Attorneys create theories of the case, opening statements, closing arguments.  Writers create plot-lines and poetry, heroines and villains.  Friends create relationships, connections, and shared bonds.  Philosophers create ideas and ideals.

Advertising and marketing moguls create desires for us to consume when we are not creating.

A Pensive Moment: Wikipedia ~ Desire (in Public Domain)

As consumers, we consume an endless array of consumables in every waking and sleeping hour ~ books, sleep, movies, classes, TV shows, meals, lectures, jewelry, alcohol, shoes, handbags, concerts, sporting events, video games, puzzles, magazine articles, and the occasional imported cigar.

Our appetites as consumers are insatiable.

Once we have consumed the object of each current desire, a new desire arises to take its place.

To kill time and fill the void between birth and death, we can consume.

Or we can create.

What have YOU created lately?

Aah . . . that’s better!

Holiday at The Dew Drop Inn May 11, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Word Play, Writing & Writers.
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When I received this book as a child, I giggled at its title . . . and dove right in to the Dew Drop Inn.

Holiday at the Dew Drop Inn (third in the series, The Family from One End Street) describes Kate Ruggles’ summer holiday at the Dew Drop Inn.

The Family from One End Street beat out Tolkien’s The Hobbit to receive the 2nd annual Carnegie Medal for outstanding children’s book by a British subject in 1937.

Seventy years later, a panel selected it for the Top Ten List of Medal winning works.

Eve Garnett wrote the series to address the social conditions of the working class in England at the time.

Have you met Kate?

You Can’t Stop Reading This Book May 6, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Bulletin Board, Humor.
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As I mentioned last week, Susanna’s holding a contest to coincide with the e-launch of Can’t Sleep Without Sheep . . . tomorrow!

What d’ya bet Susanna’s too excited to sleep tonight?

For the contest, she asked us to write an advertising jingle designed to make readers tingle with anticipation.

The winners get prizes!
Cool prizes!

If you’re too tired to write a jingle because you suffer from insomnia, or feel there is too much jingling in the world, you can win prizes for tweeting about the book this week.  Details HERE!

There’s also a coloring contest for kids.

Yes!  There’s still time to get in on the FUN.

Here’s my jingle, sung to the tune of Swagger Jagger:

illustration copyright Mike Wohnoutka 2010

You can’t stop reading this book
Reading this book
Reading this book

You can’t stop reading this book
So get a copy now

You can’t stop counting those sheep
Counting those sheep
Counting those sheep

You can’t stop counting those sheep
So get a copy now

Can’t sleep without sheep
Can’t. Can’t.
Can’t sleep without sheep

So get a copy NOW!

(B)Aah . . . that’s better!

Silver Linings Playbook May 2, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Books & Movies, Fiction, Health & Wellness.
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On Tuesday night, we watched Silver Linings Playbook.

In it, a just released mental patient is reading through novels discussed in the HS English class his estranged wife teaches.

When Pat finishes Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, he throws it out the window in disgust and wakes his parents to express outrage that so many “must reads” have twisted unhappy endings instead of “silver linings.”  I share his wrath.

Here’s to finding silver linings in the midst of cloudy days, to being better (not bitter), and to living happily-ever-after on a moment by moment basis.

Aah . . . that’s better!


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