NaNo: For the win

<img src='’ width=100 height=100 border=0 alt=’Official NaNoWriMo 2007 Winner’>

I couldn’t make LJ take the userpic that the NaNo “win” page offered because it was larger than 100 x 100. Maybe someone will edit it and I’ll gack it sometime.

All done for this year!

Anyway, I don’t know whether I’ll finish this one up this year. I got kind of stuck. I also need to finish printing the Marfa Lights novel to send to the MWA contest. Then I need to get cracking on doing some housecleaning and decorating for the upcoming holiday season!


CRAFT: Dialogue exercise

On the WRITING FidoList, we’re playing a little game.

We’re posting a snippet from one of our works. It has to be untagged dialogue. We’re trying to see if readers can figure out what’s going on without tags or attributions. You wouldn’t want to do an entire novel this way, but sometimes you can do this and it can work well. Some writers are naturally more cinematically minded than others, and some are the old-fashioned “readerminds” like me who enjoy the other stuff just as much, and love to see the turns of phrase characteristic of a writer-type. But this is a cool exercise.

The best one I’ve seen so far is from Carl Thames. I think this is from his NaNovel. We’ve got to get this guy writing fiction . . . he’s done mostly nonfiction.

“Well, we were doing fine until Numbnuts here yelled, ‘Sit down and shut the hell up!'”

“He walked into a biker bar and told everybody to shut up?”

“OW, watch that. Yeah, he did, and I was dumb enough to be with him when he did it.”

“Who threw the first punch?”

“I did.”

“Oh? Why?”

“This guy was coming at me with a chair. He was holding it over his head.”

“Hold still, one more stitch, then we move on to the arm.”

“While I was decking the turkey with the chair, Brainiac reaches out and grabs the waitress on the butt. Man, this place stinks. Smells like Clorox.”

“We got to keep it clean. Regs. She wasn’t a waitress.”

“You’re telling me that now?”

“So what did she do?”

“She hit him right between the eyes. Really pretty straight right.”

“That’s when the rest of them jumped up?”

“I guess. I was kinda busy by then. I didn’t really see what everyone was doing. That last one hurt.”

“Alcohol is an alkaloid, Lidocaine is a base. They cancel each other out. We got three broken jaws waiting back there. You do that?”

“I know I did two of them, but it was self-defense.”

“What about the cracked pelvis?”

“That might have been me too. I know I nailed one guy really good.”

“That hurts to think about.”

“Numbnuts told me the guy’s feet came off the floor when I kicked him.”

“Whoa. Give me a minute here.”

“Hey, he broke the first beer bottle.”

“Looks like that got popular real quick.”

“Yeah, but what can you do? Guy comes at you with sharp objects, you either do something or you’re sushi.”

“I guess you know one of those guys is touch and go whether he’s going to make it or not?”

“Not my problem. If you can’t run with the big dogs, stay on the porch.”

“Okay, let’s have the arm. Damn, what caused this?”

“That was the knife. Somebody always has a knife.”

“Which one was he?”

“Broken arm, for sure. Yeow, you have to jerk the bandage like that?”

“Broken arm, six broken ribs, probably a broken cheek. I saw him. It’s either jerk it off or take it a half-inch at a time. You rather have that?”

“No, quick is better. He had it coming. More with the needle?”

“Yeah, I gotta numb it up as much as I can. You got some sub-cue going here. Hold still.”

“Man, I hate needles.”

BarbJ’s suggested contribution for after this passage:

The resident appeared in the doorway. He leaned against the doorjamb. “So was the bar burned to the ground from when someone got tossed into the fryer?”

The next step in this exercise is for us to post the snippet with attributions and see whether this makes the scene more vivid. If it doesn’t, we need different action tags.

I’m going to post my contribution there in a minute, but you get to see it first!
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This is a scene from when Ari arrives in Marfa.

“C’mon down. Yee-ha, little dogie. See that? That one’s for the record books.”

“Buzz, stop that foolishness. This here’s Arrietty French, the girl come to get Aaron’s things. She don’t need to see you playin’ at that and think you’re a tired old coot.”

“I was tired, and now I’m tired again, so I suppose you could say I’m re-tired. Francis James Parker, but call me Buzz, little lady.”

“Ariadne French. Everyone calls me Ari.”

“Airy it is, then. I tore up my shoulder the first time I swung this rope around. Now look at me. Well, you saw. A man’s got to do something for fun, and I’m too old to chase girls.”

“You’d get your fanny whupped if you tried.”

Original version:

A tall older man stood in their barren field of a front yard, tossing a lasso. I hesitated, thinking this could be a bad way to be introduced–becoming a calf substitute for his practice–but then I realized he was aiming the loop at a metal statue, a roping dummy. He spied us and twirled the rope in our direction à la Roy Rogers.

“C’mon down,” he called, sounding just like the announcer on “The Price is Right.” Holding the tip of his tongue between his obviously-capped front teeth, he swung the lariat. The noose slipped deftly over the practice steer’s neck, and he snapped the rope taut. “Yee-ha, little dogie,” he crowed. “See that? That one’s for the record books.”

“Buzz, stop that foolishness.” Cora wiped her hands on her balled-up apron, even though she hadn’t touched anything and I couldn’t imagine what she might think had gotten on them. “This here’s Arrietty French, the girl come to get Aaron’s things. She don’t need to see you playin’ at that and think you’re a tired old coot.”

He grinned, winding and looping the rope around his shoulder and elbow like real cowboys do. “I was tired, and now I’m tired again, so I suppose you could say I’m re-tired.” He held out his hand. “Francis James Parker, but call me Buzz, little lady.”

He was old enough that the “little lady” didn’t seem sexist or affected. “Ariadne French. Everyone calls me Ari.”

“Airy it is, then.” His face took on a triumphant little-boy expression. “I tore up my shoulder the first time I swung this rope around. Now look at me. Well, you saw.” He pointed at the dummy. “A man’s got to do something for fun, and I’m too old to chase girls.”

“You’d get your fanny whupped if you tried,” put in Cora.
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Perfection’s probably somewhere in between, but I like the version with the action and attributions. That’s how I visualized the scene. But this scene wasn’t really very much like Carl’s . . . it needs the scene-setting.

# # #
Internet Explorer insisted on updating itself last night while I slept. Now it has tabs and all sorts of rot. I can’t get used to the new look. *grump* I don’t need whatever this new stuff is. I need the old, smaller toolbar back.

Top Ten Comebacks. . . .

For those who’ll be dealing with extended family and acquaintances plus their clueless dates *grin* over this holiday weekend. My friend is going to have her own bash today, going to her in-laws’ tomorrow, and to two OTHER extended-family gatherings on Sunday. Whew!

The combination of food and older relatives who feel somehow invested in your size (be it a size 4 or a size 24) while you’re just trying to keep those gravy stains off the tablecloth can be a problem. Here are Marilyn Wann’s (slightly edited) top ten of responses in case someone dares to prod you about your weight on such a holiday, from her book _Fat! So?_:

1. Oooh, do you really think you need another biscuit? “I don’t need it. I WANT it.”
2. Do you know how many calories that has? “Yes, and I’m looking forward to every one of them.”
3. I’m having a fat day. “Me, too! Isn’t it awesome?”
4. You have such a pretty face. “You should see my pretty a$&#^$!”
5. You’re too fat! “For what?”
6. You look like you’ve lost weight. “I’ve actually gained 150 pounds, but I wear it really well.”
7. You’ve gained weight since (whenever)? “Yes! Jealous?”
8. When are you going to lose some weight? “Why do you need to know?”
9. Response to someone talking about you behind your back: “I’m sorry, you might want to keep it down. I wouldn’t want anyone else to hear what a gossip you are!”
10. And our all-purpose response for every rude question ever: “I beg your pardon?” (If they are dense and repeat the question, repeat yours. If they simply say it louder, ignore them, for they will die clueless and unhappy.)

I’ve added:

“Shouldn’t you watch what you eat?”
“Yes, I have to keep my eye on the food so it doesn’t get away!” OR “Yes, I once stabbed somebody’s hand as he reached over to steal my French fries, so I’m more careful to watch now.”

“Don’t you worry about eating so much?”
“Yes, I really have to work to keep up my figure!”

But my favorite responses to any rude comment/question are. . . .

“How kind of you to notice.”

As in:

Have you gained weight?
“How kind of you to notice!” *big smile* “I’ve been working on it for a while.”

I hear you got fired again.
“How kind of you to notice!” *smile* “It takes a lot of work to get in trouble so often.”

“You’re ugly and you have no friends. Furthermore, you don’t really need that second helping, do you?”

*and the winner is*

“Thank you so much for having the courage to REVEAL SO MUCH ABOUT YOURSELF with that comment.”

“Thank you so much for having the courage to REVEAL SO MUCH ABOUT YOURSELF with that comment.”

Because what comes out of their mouths reveals so much about them, and is not really about you, now, is it? I try to remember this, but I fail miserably. I’ll try harder. (No, Yoda you horse’s patootie, there IS “TRY” and “FAIL DESPITE TRYING.” Deal with reality as she is.)

And now the truth:
“You look fabulous.”
“You look mah-velous.”
“Move out of the way–you’re blocking the TV and I’m trying to see ALL THE ANDY HARDY FILMS in a row!”

Happy Thanksgiving!

The (sugar-“free”) pumpkin pie is baked. The turkey’s thawed and set to go for two hours (this year, we got a “two-hour” precooked bird, so we’ll see how that goes.) All kinds of side dishes were labored over last night (green bean casserole, broccoli-rice casserole, sweet potatoes with “mushmellows,” corn souffle/pudding, cornbread dressing) and await reheating. A can of cranberry sauce had its top popped and its cylindrical holiness eased out (nobody’ll eat the fancy whole-berry relishes I used to make.)

The feast awaits.

And the dog is better. Still coughing–diagnosis was kennel cough, and the vet (a new one–ours is semi-retired and has run in this rude one on us) said it was OUR FAULT for not getting him revaccinated every six months, as that’s now the duration of the vaccine, and that furthermore his teeth look dirty to her–but not nearly as hard or as often.

Mama’s taken that tube of oxygen out of her nostrils at last, and now says her legs hurt instead. But that’s an improvement.

Temperatures dropped into the thirties early yesterday evening. Hubby covered up the plants in the front courtyard. On the way to pick up milk and a Lotto ticket, we saw several houses already covered in Christmas lights! Industrious little beavers.

And I just typed some stuff on the NaNovel.

Now, back to take a nap until the parade comes on and others begin to stir. (I got up to give puppy his antibiotic–it’s every twelve hours at five-thirty.) On the whole, things are all right. We’re much better off than many people and than we COULD be, and we do realize we’re blessed. We just need patience *now*.

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all.

Thankfulness meme

Thankfulness post:

1. Not dead yet.

But is that a GOOD thing, or. . . .

2. Yes, the precious Pom’s kennel cough is still there. He’s a lot better. But he COUGHS and it’s HEARTRENDING and it echoes through the house. This can last for over a week, and in fact it HAS. Mama has bronchitis (and because the actual diagnosis for the dog is “tracheobronchitis, infection,” it’s kind of the same thing) and has spent the past three days dragging an oxygen tank and coughing and moaning and crying. Hubby escapes by going directly back and logging on to play his online game, and the soundtrack of the 14-year-old GIRL who runs the dang missions and the stooopid young guys who talk through his speakers would incite a psychotic break in any saint. I do not like Thanksgiving foods and would just as soon not cook any of this stuff, believing that a holiday built around eating should result in other people weighing 300 lbs. rather than in my gaining another pound or two just from touching the yams. I would jump into any passing car that would let me in and take me anywhere but here. Now I understand why people abandon their families. But I can’t leave the dog, as I am the one who picks him up and rocks him until the coughing spells pass, and I also give him the pill hidden in a wad of cheese. (Yep, the cheese is probably making his mucus thicker, but he “finds” the pill and “loses” it in everything else.) Um, I suppose there isn’t a “thankful for” bit in #2 except that they’re all still alive and I haven’t left.

(This was not the day to have me do the “I am thankful for” meme. Perhaps later.)
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“Upon the rocks the ugly houses stand. Come see my shining palace built upon the sand!” –Edna St. Vincent Millay

“Is that thunder I hear? Waak!”–Donald Duck, standing on beach a moment before Auntie Edna’s lovely sand castle is destroyed in a deluge
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Is it true that thorns appeared on roses only after the fall of Mankind caused by Adam and Eve’s original sin? Because if it is, then we shouldn’t have done that six thousand years ago. Life is a thorn. Whose side should I stick into today?

NaNo: Blessed quiet, time to work

I came awake with a start after dreaming that I’d woken up when my husband got up to go to the bathroom. He was still in bed, as was the dog, and neither one was coughing. I panicked a moment, wondering if there was a problem, but they both blinked when I slipped out of bed and went to the bathroom. Checked on Mama and she’s not coughing. Miracle of miracles, wonder of wonders!

But did I TCOB and then go back to bed? No, I checked my chapter’s status in that silly Gather contest and then typed on my NaNo novel. None of the NaNo is ready for prime time.

So here’s an excerpt of a few snatches of dialogue from a freewriting session. Pray take and examine, that it might amuse thee.
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“I’ve heard nothing but criticism from my vicious aunt this holiday, and my favorite bowl just got broken by somebody’s brat,” Courtney shouted at the closed-and-locked bathroom door, “so if YOU cannot handle a simple request to leave the sage out of the turkey dressing, then YOU are not the woman I thought you were.”

Shrieks echoed into the sink beyond the door. Her sister Sydney was definitely not planning to come out and co-host this Thanksgiving dinner, as promised. That rat.

“Pardon me.” A vaguely familiar-looking man–someone’s date, Courtney thought she remembered–tapped her shoulder. “Then who IS she, because I need to page her and get in to use this relief station. Unless you have another?”

“Turn left at the top of the stairs,” she said. The unmistakable aroma of something burning reached her. “Oh, God.”

“No need to address me as God,” said the man, rushing for the stairs. “Your Highness will do fine.”

She got into the kitchen just as smoke began pouring out of the toaster oven.

“Journalists consider their efforts the “first draft of history,” her newspaper-editor cousin Kara was informing the group.

The group snorted as one and fell to the carpet laughing. “They definitely need to get over themselves,” said one of the teenagers.

Cousin Kara stuck her nose in the air, looking miffed. “Well, I declare. We most of us devote enormous effort to ensuring the accuracy and fairness of what we report.”

“Fair and balanced,” shrieked the teenager’s mom–one of Mama’s cousins?–sending the group rolling again with another paroxysm of laughter.

“This gathering took off from Crazy Station at four AM and quickly passed the outer moons of Jupiter on its way to some distant galaxy,” Courtney muttered as she pulled the ruined rolls out of the oven. “Has anyone seen Jake? He was watching these for me.”

“Who? Oh, you mean that guy who just left with the tall anorexic witch with four-inch stilettos and black talons?”

Oops. “I should’ve known it wasn’t about the dressing,” she said as she dumped the rolls into the trash. There should be another package somewhere . . . she shouldn’t have heated them up this soon, anyway. . . .