Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Three Things Writers Should Know

Murgalump scolded me for not working harder on my platform. She said that gaining writing experience by telling stories is fine, but I should be concentrating more on the craft itself. So I scoured the internet to see what to glean that I may be able to pass on to you.

I came to the conclusion that there are three things a new writer should know.

  1. There is a lot of excellent advice given by responsible and knowledgeable authors for the simple reason of helping others.
  2. There are thousands of blogs that have tag words screaming numbers, like the one I'm using today. For instance, headings tell you 5 things always to do, or 7 things never to do, 12 tips to jumpstart your career or 30 things to keep in mind when character building. Folks, they ain't gonna run out of numbers. Tomorrow there will be more numerals to follow. If you get in that mode, you'll need a spreadsheets bottom line to decide when you've become a writer.
  3. You can be a better writer. Read, write, hone your craft. Then - who knows? You still have to bring a skill with you, and even if you have it, you may never win a traditional publisher.
So why bother?

Because it's your story.

One more thing.
By all means, read the articles that have numerals in the headings. Just understand what Hemingway meant when he said, "To get started, write one true sentence."

That's it for me. How do you feel about it? To leave a comment if the comment box isn't visible, click on the blue heading.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Gentle Sister Susie

Roy and I have a sister.

She grew up next door and had a different last name, but if fighting, laughing, playing, and suffering boredom create a family, then we were a blended one. Still are.

Susie had abilities early. She was at ease wearing Levi's, her red hair in pigtails, throwing a basketball or throwing punches. The next thing you knew, she'd be in a gown heading off to a Rainbow Girl's meeting. If you didn't know she had a thick scab on her knee, you'd take her for a lady.

In the 1950's, a favorite get-away for Kingman folks was the Hualapai Mountain Park. Fourteen miles into the mountains up a steep, narrow, winding dirt road. But once there, the picnic benches under the pine trees made fried chicken and potato salad taste better than any food on earth. There was a private lake deep enough for swimming and catching small catfish that the owners opened to the public. There was also a lodge for all sorts of social amenities including horseback riding.

I have a lot of fine memories of being in the mountains, and a splotchy one. In fact, I confessed to Susie that because of the freeze-frame scenes I recall, I didn't know if I actually witnessed the event and was traumatized, or if someone else related it to me. She said I was there.

The first scene has Susie and Roy racing their horses down a hard-packed dirt road. The decomposed granite that makes up a lot of the Hualapai Mts. is like concrete.
Susie is in front, the sound of galloping horses and thousand pound animal bodies hurtling along comes to mind. She is grinning.

Jump to the next scene. Susie is a ball, still in the saddle, underneath the horse's belly. She is a boxer's punching bag for flying hooves. Her cinch was loose and the saddle slid. A least one steel-shod hoof clipped her head. She was getting her peanuts shelled.

She said when she came to, I was looking her over to see if she was breathing. Roy jumped off his horse to check on her, then instead of remounting and riding, ran two miles to the park where Susie's mom was. Susie's head was a bloody mess. She got up and walked to the cabin her folks owned while I rounded up the horses.

Her mom had to take her to the hospital. I think stitches held her together for a few months.

She's still torqued that she didn't saddle her own horse and, Heavens Sake, she broke her glasses.

It's a good thing she had the cool-headed Voss boys there. Neither one of us was hurt.

How do you protect your sister? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Dad Learns About Symbiosis

Most dads teach their sons about the birds and bees. Our family had Roy. Teaching trickled up, not down, and it involved Roy's new girlfriend, Twinkle Veldermann.

She wasn't his girlfriend in a romantic sense, and that's where the symbiosis came in. Twinkle taught Roy the finer points of playing linebacker and increasing the odds of sacking a quarterback. In return, he shaved her back so the hair wouldn't mat up under her shoulder pads.

Dad loved Roy but was eternally perplexed by this particular offspring and tried to help him. But how? He drew on his farming background as when the old plow mule started acting funny. Maybe the same medicine that cured the mule would work on Roy.

This stage of Roy's upbringing began a family routine for us. Mom would relate my older brother's activity; Dad would eat a roll of Tums, then give Roy another dose of worm medicine.

It was Kismet. Saturated with parasitic protection probably helped Roy stay healthy through his dating years. Some of his later dates you will, no doubt, learn of here.

As for Twinkle, some good, some bad. Getting wormed left Roy half comatose and gave him a light touch to shave around her bruises from being poked with a ten-foot pole by courageous young men, but rendered him useless as a linebacker. She left Roy for a guy that became a stevedore in Antarctica.

How did your date go? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Rattler Contest

Results of  the 2016 Phoenix Rattler contest sponsored by Christian Writers of  the West have been announced.
Roy is the category winner of the Mystery/Thriller/Romantic Suspense genre.

His novel, The Tough Kid, keeps the reader engrossed from an explosive beginning to an out-of-breath ending.

Great job, Big Brother.

Also, ahem, I enjoyed some success in the contest too.

If you've looked at all the pages on this blog, you will have noticed the mention of Little CAB Press, the publisher of other stories written by Roy and me.
I intended to use the win to have agent Murgalump Kneffle upgrade my contract with Little CAB. Right now, it stipulates that my stories only see print if I can convince Roy to submit a story too. Even then, my work is printed at the back of the anthology on tear-out pages.

Murgalump said she wasn't going to bother because if I won, then I must have been the only entry in my genre at the Rattler contest, winning by default.

I thought about it and it's okay. It's a certificate I didn't have yesterday.

What did you win, or should have won? Leave a comment.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Bony-Eyed Bonnie

In the '50's, Kingman was having a normal football season. Once again we were fielding a team displaying determination, tenacity, and lunacy in spite of our cellar ranking.
Roy was looking for ways to improve our record since practice and scrimmage could take us only so far.

It was said that Bony-eyed Bonnie could fuse a guy's joints just by staring at him.

We laughed at that, but no one made eye contact with her, either. Mystery clouded her. She appeared at the junction of the highway and a long dirt road to catch the school bus. Her house and family, if they existed,were never seen. Her personal space was three times the size of the most grubby kids and was never violated.

Except by Roy.

Willing to make any kind of deal that could help the team, Roy reasoned that she could put the freeze on the opponents and the Mohave County Union High School Bulldogs would put one in the win column.

Roy talked Dad into taking her with us to the game at Boulder City, Nevada.

That night under the lights of their field, inhaling the smells of mown grass, and the thrill of being out of town made up for the fact that I had to ride all the way looking out a side window to keep from seeing Bony-eyed. I was shocked to find that she could talk to Mom about regular girl things.

Poor Boulder City. They only had one play. Give the ball to their quickest guy who ran around end for a touchdown. It got boring pretty fast.
Kingman ran a Tee formation. Two halfbacks and a fullback. The fullback spot is the powerhouse runner, the man who will bowl over tacklers and punch through steel walls.

Our fullback was Bruce Ricca. Bruce was probably rocking around 120, maybe 130 lbs.

When Boulder City got spent from running touchdowns, kicking off and recovering fumbles to make more touchdowns, we lined up to make 'em pay.

The handoff to Bruce. He hit the line off-tackle going full tilt.

When they cleared the pile-up, Bruce had one thigh pad knocked out of his pants, and the other was ripped and hanging. His hip pads were twisted, the lacing of his shoulder pads was snapped leaving them to flop around under his jersey, and his helmet was cracked.

Later in the game, Roy managed to make a flying, twisting tackle to grab the foot and break the ankle of their end-run, touchdown-making player. That kept the score down to 63-0.

Turns out, Bony-eyed Bonnie couldn't fuse bone joints, but she could help Roy forget the game. Bruce couldn't remember the game for three days.