Could We All Just Get A Grip Already?

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Originally, I intended to lampoon the Dr. Seuss kerfuffle, in support of one of the greatest children’s writers of all time. But the desire to pen witty or clever repartee evaporated with the lunacy of Las Vegas. This succinctly sums up my thoughts:

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
Dr. Seuss, The Lorax

So much for old, tired clichés.

On to the business of the First Wednesday IWSG Blog Hop. Captain Ninja Alex has posed the following pithy question for our consideration:

Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

Yes and yes.

On the intentional front, my protagonist is a lawyer and a runner (what? me too!). She also has some difficult family relationships (don’t we all). Some of her thoughts and reactions mirror my own. But sometimes she says and does things I wish I had said or done. A Freudian attempt to rewrite history, perhaps? I give the MC traits that don’t require an extraordinary amount of research, and still allow her to develop an individual persona.

Personal information is more likely to make its way ineffectively into other characters unintentionally, particularly when I attempt to comprehend motivation. For example, my antagonist is a serial killer. I will end the suspense to the burning question many people have asked and confess:  No, I was not the inspiration for Serial Mom (but seriously, Beverly was right: NO white shoes after Labor Day!). I don’t understand the mental state of a person who repeatedly kills. I have trouble divorcing myself from the pesky moral conscience that keeps most of us from engaging in and enjoying this behavior.

I populate my antagonist with unique personal information (meaning, not mine), gathered through industry research, such as Into the Minds of Madmen and craft books like The Writer’s Guide to Character Traits and Thesaurus series. I also have a well-worn copy of The Sociopath Next Door on my bookshelf (which, IMHO, should be required reading from about the third grade on) to get psyche details correct.

That said, I suspect, and perhaps hope, that all my characters possess a bit of my humanity, however dark, in their souls. The God complex – yet another task for Freud. Or a glass of Pinot Noir. One of those.

Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts:

Olga Godim
Chemist Ken
Jennifer Hawes
Tamara Narayan

and the rest of our krew is here!

Posted in I'm Not Sure What is Going On Here, IWSG, Killer Reads, The Road to Hell . . . | 24 Comments

That I Write in Any Genre is a Surprise

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AUTUMN IS COMING!

Ok, this is not the motto of one of the Great Houses of Westeros. But as I am one season closer to £500 a year and a room of my own, it is worth a trumpet or two (spring! it’s happening in the spring!).

September. The season of color, crunch, and crisp. Cooler mornings for runs, bright afternoons warming leaves on the cusp of transitioning from green to the fall palette. And the IWSG First Wednesday posting.

The September Question posed by our Ninja Captain: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in??

Yes.

I write mostly mystery/horror, with a bit of bizarre poetry thrown in. A few years back, memoirs of the humorous, snarky-ish type seemed to be all the rage. “Hey!” I thought. “I can be as much of a smart-ass as anyone, without all the eff words.” [side bar – while I may occasionally talk like a sailor, (or use what my colleagues and I call “technical legal terms”) I don’t want to read a bunch of profanity, unless the character IS a sailor]

While not really “my” genre, I dinked around a bit, outlining what I hoped could be humorous, snarky anecdotes. I even made a cover with catchy working title. To wit:

It Seemed Reasonable cover5

And boy, was I surprised.

“Humor is almost always anger with its make-up on.” ― Stephen King, Bag of Bones

Memoirs involve memories, true stories from the past [unless you’re James Frey]. But as the ink flowed, my memories were not humorous. My truth was scary, not snarky. These anecdotes were angry and no amount of lipstick and mascara would make them funny.

But this isn’t what surprised me. The surprise was how quickly one can be sucked into the vortex of a desolate abyss when tarrying too long at the portal to the past. It is, perhaps, best not to windowshop at Hell’s Emporium.

“We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones.” ― Stephen King

The master of horror knows whereof he speaks. This project has been shelved until such time as . . . Hell freezes over. For now, I’ll just stick with making up the horrors and leave the memoirs to those who like surprises.

**

Please visit our awesome co-hosts for this posting of the IWSG:

and everyone else is here!

Posted in I Am Not Making This Up, IWSG, The Road to Hell . . . | 20 Comments

Running Made Me Part Zombie

zombie-uphill moonlight1

Me on that last damn hill
 

Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m., it was 180*, 500% humidity. For reasons unknown, other than the possibility that the Zombie part of me has eviscerated my brains, I was signed up to run a 10K.

IN AUGUST. IN THE MIDWEST.

For those of you not on the metric system, that is 6.2 miles.

Oh, it’s all good, I told myself as I fidgeted at the starting line. I’m here for the experience, yes, the very JOY of running. I’m not here to worry about setting any records.

That last part is true enough, because the “setting any time records” ship sailed when I smashed the tibial plateau of my left leg to smithereens in January of 2011. [Freak training accident, of which the boring details are omitted so as to not bore you. Plus, it was NOT my fault.]

The doctor put my Humpty Dumpty leg back together. Complete with cadaver bone and metal rods, my brand new mini-Frankenstein tibial plateau enabled me to become mobile again. Fast forward to a year ago, thanks to/complete blame belongs to, the inspiration of my writing pal Alyssa in Texas, I abandoned my slothful ways and resumed running again.

For. My. Health.

But because I just cannot leave well enough alone (I blame the apparent brain loss that occurred when the leg surgery was done) I thought it would be a brilliant idea to do a local road race. I trained for this run, with 6-7 milers on the weekend, with hills. Yes, the very JOY of running.

The air was already thick and suffocating as some 600 of us lined up. As the runners surged ahead at the GO, I immediately remembered why I get up at 5:30 a.m. to run, even on the weekends. By 7:35 a.m., having traveled the grand distance of about ten feet, I was already soaked. After what seemed to be 2 hours, reaching the 1 1/2-mile mark, I realized that the next 4 miles consisted of looooong, wicked hills, snaking through a graveyard on a blistering blacktop surface. The irony of the location was not lost on me.

I summoned my Zombie skills from the depths of wherever they lurk in the daylight, as I forced myself to battle with my brain when it finally figured out what was going on and screamed at my feet to stop moving. The lungs got in on the WTF action, but backed off each time I stopped for water. My arms complained about pumping my body forward, especially up the hills. I repeatedly reminded all body parts that the car was in the parking lot back where we started, whereupon the brain loudly wondered whose stupid plan that was. I fought the cacophony of whininess for the entire run.

Long story short (considerably shorter than the 1:21:55 time I posted) I managed to drag all of my mutinous parts across the finish line and lived to tell about it.

Or died to tell about it. I’m still not sure which.

Posted in I'm Not Sure What is Going On Here, Just Kill Me Now | 4 Comments

IWSG AIRING OF THE PET PEEVES

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Insecure Writer’s Support Group

It is again the First Wednesday for IWSG, and the August 2 Question: What are your pet peeves when reading/writing/editing?

Alex always comes up with the most entertaining questions! I have an entire menagerie of pet peeves on all three subjects, but space requires me to limit to one, so I choose:

Pet Peeves When Reading

Pet Peeves involving Dearest Husband/Significant Other/Love of My Life (just to clarify, all the same man)

  • I am engrossed in a thrilling “what’s going to happen next” book.
    Coe: “Hey Lee – watch this amazing [insert stupid sports game of your choice] replay!”
    Me: “Yup. Pretty amazing.” [grumbling while I attempt to regain my literary reverie].
  • We are both engrossed in a thrilling “what’s going to happen next” book.
    Coe: “Hey Lee – here’s some really great dialogue you can use in your book.” Proceeds to read really great dialogue aloud.
    Me: Yup. That’s really great dialogue. But I can’t use it, because that would be plagiarism, and that’s against the law.”
    Coe: “Well, you could change some of the words.”
    Me: “Indeed. I could do that.”

On the non-Coe list of peeves:

  • Authors setting up Rules, then not following them, particularly in the paranormal genre. But this is applicable to others, i.e. the history in historical mysteries sets up Rules. When characters behave outside of the historical time-frame, they break the Rules, thereby taking me out of the story and causing a big eye-roll. (BIG TIME author guilty of this).
  • Getting into a well-crafted story, with good character development, lots of twists and turns, then being cheated by an irritatingly sloppy, rushed wrap-up. (More than one BIG TIME author guilty of this).
  • Characters who make one moronic decision after another, on the pretext of “moving the story forward.” It particularly peeves me when those characters are female.
  • Writing about any specialty, (i.e. police work, firefighters, firearms, medicine) without doing the research. I know movies and television are completely disassociated from reality (for example, handing a criminal/terrorist a handgun with an empty clip, and the criminal/terrorist is SURPRISED that the gun isn’t loaded. Anyone who has handled a firearm would KNOW the clip was empty. Ammo is heavy). Again, I am rolling my eyes and looking to spend my hard-earned book money on a different author.
  • Coincidence to explain anything. Coincidences cause me to stop reading. Life is too short to waste time on coincidences.

That said, it is no coincidence that our fabulous co-hosts will have many more insights on these subjects and none of them will include crabbing about Coe. Do stop by:

Christine Rains
Dolarah @ Book Lover
Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor
Yvonne Ventresca
LG Keltner

Posted in It's the Law, IWSG | 10 Comments

It Was a Dark and Stormy Night

and it was amazing!

A_rainy_night

Sunday. The air hung hot with muggy heat that sucked the strength right out of you. Anyone with a brain was inside, air conditioning blasting full force. Coe and I had eaten an early dinner and I puttered around cleaning up and shuttling loads of laundry from the washing machine to the dryer.

Suddenly, the 5:30 sky turned black as midnight and thunder rumbled in the distance. A patter of rain skipped across the patio. Oh happy day! A storm to cool the temperature. I stepped outside to the covered porch, immensely enjoying the rain that sprayed across my face as the surprisingly brisk winds blew the gentle rain sideways. And then, a miracle occurred.

The power went out.

My bliss was short-lived. Coe was beside himself. How would he ever know who won the golf tournament? (because, it would never be reported on the news once the power was back on or printed in the sports page in tomorrow’s paper, or available for unlimited freaking repeat viewing on the DVR.) What was he going to do for the next eternity, while waiting for the power to come back on, because he still has an original Kindle and the lanterns and candles I set up didn’t provide enough light to read by. And would the candles heat up the house(!) before the air conditioning came back on? And would the fuses blow with all the appliances in full-use mode?

As is my wont, I donned my super-power costume (it makes me look a lot like Catwoman – probably because it’s so dark) and set about averting crisis. I loaded his book to the correct page on my backlit Kindle. I pretended to turn off enough switches to save the fuses. I assured him that I still had internet access on my phone and would keep him apprised via Chicago Trib alerts (there is no amount of sports minutia that the Trib finds unworthy of an “alert”). Then, I filled my wine glass and opened my own Kindle book via my tablet.

And there we sat. For an hour and a half. Just being together, reading our books, with our pets resting comfortably (a constant concern to both of us). No noise. No television. No humming of the AC. No dinging of the dryer. No nothing. Just the peaceful sounds of rain and thunder. The flickering of candlelight. A complete disconnect from the crazy.

It was amazing.

Posted in Enjoying the Journey, Just Killing Time | 2 Comments