You don’t FNORD have to FNORD think too hard, Benjamin

Reactions to that gather.com/Touchstone contest I mentioned are mixed. Am I crazy for entering the fray? I haven’t heard a peep out of them, although they say you’ll get a confirmation e-mail telling you that your entry was or wasn’t accepted and posted. That’s within three business days, they say, and of course I sent my stuff in around noon on the 11th (because I had to cobble up an author bio of 600 words and a plot blurb of 700, neither of which I had.) So who knows? They may or may not take me. Would it not be a kick to be entry #1, though?! That would be ideal, because most curious types who get on to read a few entries will default to takin’ a gander at #1. I figure the first twenty entries will get the most attention, no matter what, while the hype is still warm. Also, you can’t vote unless you’re a Gather member, so no one I know will be voting. Well, who knows. If it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all, so I’m not holdin’ my bated breath (how’s that for mixed cliches?)

Was looking at Miss Snark’s blog, reading a few of the opening pages she requested and posted. I am getting a feel for her mind and how she reads. A number of the comments she makes, where she claims a writer is telling and overwriting, I would not agree with. On occasion some of the stuff in there could and should be tightened out, but not always. All storytelling is TELLING, and readers do need to hear the occasional insight from the character(s). She tends to make a blanket statement that somebody’s stuff is “boring” or “overwritten” when I can see that a few words moved around would make a completely different passage out of the thing. Other times I think that what excites her looks pretty boring to *me*. Heh. However, she’s probably right about that mom-called-up-to-Iraq-service novel being a hot property. I would almost think it’s too late to send that one around, but then the disaster seems to promise years of involvement, so perhaps not. They need to get cracking and get it into print, though. I know there are kids and young adults who could benefit from reading a sensitively written novel that explores the issues and feelings. There’s probably a Vietnam-era novel and several WWII-era novels that might be good for them to read, too. (“Summer of ’42” isn’t exactly the right thing, but it did come to mind as a wartime story.)

I bought a brand-new mystery novel out from St. Martin’s Minotaur and tried to read it today, but have found six howlers so far and several places in which the author has let inconsistencies stand. For instance, she has one woman answer the door to our sleuth acting quite haughty–“You’re late,” said Frosty, staring me up and down–and then after a period of the woman sniping at the sleuth, the woman suddenly cozies up with no explanation. “Let’s dish the gossip,” she says, smiling and curling up on the sofa. Had this been handled differently, I would have said, “Hey, the character changed because of something the other character did or said, or she took a pill, or something’s affecting her.” But that is not how this is written. She also does tons of backstory; when the sleuth meets someone, there’s this three-paragraph aside about how the guy was walking down the street last yaer and an Acme anvil fell on his head and he became an epileptic and got a divorce and now has bought a pet hedgehog using the funds he was awarded when he sued Wile E. Coyote, blah blah blah. She makes no attempt to show this stuff, and we don’t see any reason for getting this backstory. And when the sleuth meets the next someone, the same pattern happens again. Aarghh!

I need to figure out a drug that simulates a heart attack in a healthy person and wouldn’t be found unless you did a postmortem drug screening within a certain period of time . . . it’s for the new mystery. I suppose I’ll troll the ‘net, but don’t be surprised if Homeland Security comes to get me for suspicious activities. Digitalis is a possibility, but that was in an episode of “Columbo,” so it would be a been-there-done-that. This is a thirtyish healthy male who’s been zapped, and the neighbors assume it was just his heart. Unless there’s some suspicion, if you find a guy dead, do they assume it could be murder? I never thought so, unless there’s something suspicious or someone insists they check. Back to those ol’ Writer’s Digest “Crime Series” how-to books, I suppose. I researched this before, but not for this exact situation.

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Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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