Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Going South

I'm on the road right now, so I only just remembered that it was Wednesday, and I haven't even had time to hunt down a good WPW prompt. I'd almost feel like a slacker, except for the fact that I've been busy doing things like driving half way across the continent to move my brother from Colorado to Florida. We're in Mobile, Alabama tonight and we'll be in my brother's new home tomorrow morning. For my part, I'll just be glad to see the last of the moving truck. Thanks to the long drive, I'm going to skip my usual WPW fare tonight and, instead, jot down a bit of description. If you're unhappy about this, blame my brother ;)

Between losing the mountains, gaining humidity, and the change of dialect spoken by the people we meet, I hardly need any reminders that we're far from home. The change has been gradual. Bit by bit the roads flattened out as we hit the plains, and the air grew heavier and heavier with extra water. Today stepping outside feels the same as stepping out of a long hot shower in my closed bathroom at home. Except, it feels hotter.

Sunshine and humidity wrap themselves around me and remind me of a summer a few years ago when I lived here. Now, driving through this country again, seeing road-killed armadillos again, brings back the memory of driving the highways in the middle of the night as fireflies splashed against the windshield. Everything, even the air hugs me as I breathe it. The drive is black on green, asphalt butted up against lush, crowded trees.

Out of the corner of my eye I see a dirt road come off the highway. A mailbox. The dirt road isn't a road after all, but a driveway that leads back into the trees which push so close together that they hide what's behind them. Back home, the land is dirt and scrub and openness. Here, the trees make secrets of houses. My imagination starts to run. Those trees, so thick and dense. Anything could be behind them.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

WPW Roundup

This week, Deb's riffing on Fleur's plaid skirt post.

Mystery Date

**Hi all, welcome to another Writing Prompt Wednesday. Won't you play along? The guidelines are simple, and I'd love to read what you come up with.**

Trisha carried a plate of hors d'oeuvres into the dining room at the same time Phil came through the front door with his date. The heads of a dozen or so guests pivoted to look. Phil's date didn't quite fit his usual fare. She was over 25 and lacked the standard show of cleavage. For that alone, Trisha was curious. She set down the plate and walked to the door to greet them.

"Phil! I'm so glad you came." Trisha took his coat, but her attention was focused on his date. "Lovely to meet you..." she paused, waiting for Phil to fill in.

"Charlene," he said.

"Charlene," Trisha repeated. "Lovely name." Charlene's outfit, in contrast with her name, was quite bland. It was fine - dark grey slacks, cream blouse, and a cardigan - but boring. Then, as Trisha took Charlene's coat, the cardigan slipped to the side in the pull of static electricity and Trisha caught a glimpse of something decidedly not boring. Charlene quickly adjusted the cardigan, but not before Trisha saw the dark metal handgrip peeking out of a shoulder holster.

Now that, Trisha thought, is a conversation piece.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dark Clouds Above

I'm sitting at a picnic table on the riverwalk right now, listening to thunder, watching lightning, and half-hoping it will rain while half-hoping it won't so I can sit outside and watch more lightning.

Some people see the storm come in and run for cover, while other people see the storm come in and run outside. Seems to me that writers and artists tend to be that second kind.

Another flash. Another rumble. A few half-hearted drops of rain. The wind is flickering the leaves of a nearby tree, and the breeze carries with it the scent of wet stone.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Revision, Round 3-ish

Today I completed the latest round of revisions on my thesis intro. I feel... lighter.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

WPW Roundup

This week, for Writing Prompt Wednesday, Deb's got a groovy bit of flash fiction up.

They Call me Donkey

**I just couldn't pass this one up. I could, however, correct its spelling.**

He walked into the bar and scanned the room. Since it was only two o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, there wasn't much to scan. His face fell. After a moment's consideration, he made his way to the bar and winked at the woman tending it. "Hey there," he said in his seductive voice.

The bartender, who had been serving drinks for five years and was named Louise, said "What can I get you?" in her unimpressed voice. In the right light, which would be a dim one indeed, he could pass for cute. Maybe. The ankle-bracelet bulge beneath his dirty jeans, though, meant he needed to be one hell of a hottie before she'd overlook it.

"Funny you should ask that," he said, "because the reason I came here is because I'm looking for a roommate."

"Sorry, we don't serve that here."

He held up his hands to stop her. "Now, now, wait a second. Hear me out. My old lady just threw me out and I need a place to stay, but it'd just be temporary. One, two months tops."

Louise polished a martini glass.

"I'm real handy around the house. I can fix anything for you, and it's a good thing, too, 'cause I'm under house arrest. Just think of how much stuff I can do for you. I just can't pay rent, but what's money compared to high quality craftsmanship?" He leaned in close and gave her a conspiratorial grin. "I can also offer other... services. If you're interested, I'll tell you why they call me donkey."

Louise cocked an eyebrow. She'd certainly never heard a line like that before. Certainly not since Saturday night, at least. She put down the martini glass. "All right," she said. "Show me."


"Well, maybe I can help you out. Maybe. But I need to see your resume, if you know what I mean."

He darted a look around at the handful of patrons bent over their beers, hesitating.

"Do it, or don't," Louise said. "Your call." She turned as if to walk away, and he jumped up on the bar, fumbling with his belt. His jeans fell to the bar, followed shortly by a pair of tighty-whities.

"Hrm..." Louise said, thoughtfully.

"Well, you know," he explained. "It's a little cold in here."

"Are you any good at putting in tile?"

He nodded vigorously.

Louise yelled, "Butch!"

A huge hulk of a man wearing motorcycle gear at the end of the bar said, "What?"

Louise pointed to the half-naked man in front of her and Butch's eyes lit up. "I just found you a roommate."

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

WPW: The Proclaimer

The homeless dude who reads the Bible and chapters on female anatomy equally as loud likes to stand on an elevated surface, such as the red overstuffed arm chair in the back, when he does it. His added height allows him to better project as he pronounced, "And the children of Israel again did that which was evil in the sight of Jehovah, when Ehud was dead. And Jehovah sold them into the hand of Jabin king of Canaan, that reigned in Hazor; the captain of whose host was Sisera, who dwelt in Harosheth of the Gentiles..."

He stands with one hand holding the book he reads from and the other held out in front of him, as if he were holding a barrel to his chest, to aid in his projection as he reads. On Tuesday, he proclaimed, "The vulva (from Latin "vulva", plural "vulvae" or "vulvas") refers to the external genital organs of the female!"

Last week, he read a section about photosynthesis from a biology book and a passage of the Illiad in the original Greek and never once stumbled on his pronunciation. There seems to be little pattern in his selection. The homeless dude samples from all disciplines and genres equally, with the one exception of westerns, which he refuses to touch.

Needless to say, bookstore staff have begun to make efforts to keep him out of the store. Just yesterday, a male cashier made a running tackle as the homeless dude tried to sneak through the front door. However, he is most persistent and the store staff cannot be every where at once. Today he climbed through a side window, made his selection, and scaled one of the bookshelves.

At that height, he was quite conspicuous and got spotted almost immediately. Three bookstore workers converged on him, but he was too high up and they couldn't reach him before he leapt to the next bookshelf. Today, he selected Emily Dickinson, whose short lines were quite fitting to the occasion.

"I felt a funeral in my brain," the homeless dude said. The bookstore staff reached to grab for his feet and he jumped to the next bookshelf.

"And mourners to and fro..." Leap.

"Kept treading, treading, till it seemed..." Leap.

"That sense was breaking through..." Leap.

They finally caught him in the children's section. The tackler from the other day climbed up on a bookshelf himself and cornered the homeless dude against a wall and wrestled him down. The homeless dude yelled out the last line of the poem before they shoved him out the door, and the customers erupted in applause. You just can't buy entertainment like that. Many of them will be back tomorrow, to be sure, for the matinee.

The Turn That Never Came

Last night I watched the pilot episode of Eastbound & Down and experienced sore disappointment. The premise: hotshot pro baseball player who in love with himself to the Nth degree wrecks his pro career and winds up teaching PE in a public school. Sounds entertaining, doesn't it? I sure thought so.

About half way through the episode, I came to the conclusion that I couldn't stand the protagonist. I mean, couldn't stand him in the way that the sound of his very voice made the muscles in my back tense up. It was a visceral, disgusted response. A good part of it, no doubt, informed by all the times when I was waitressing and got stuck serving some version of this guy. In short, completely obnoxious and I can't stand him.

Yet, I waited it out. I thought I saw potential. The kind where, after almost a whole episode of making the audience hate the guy, the writers, if they were smart, would put in a turn toward the end that would hook me. I mean, it's the pilot, right? It's all about the hook. The final scene, instead of redeeming Kenny Powers, made him even more obnoxious. Ugh.

It was very disappointing. Me, I'm all about rough characters. I love my anti-heroes, reluctant heroes, sympathetic villains, and all the rest. Make them flawed, make them unreliable, make them messy, and I'm there. But, and it's a big "but," they still need to be redeemable. One of my latest favorite examples of a flawed hero is Dennis Leary's character, Tommy Gavin, on Rescue Me. He's all kinds of shady, selfish, and untrustworthy, but he's got enough about him that's admirable that he's redeemable. There's depth there. It's beautiful.

Kenny Powers? Total caricature, and a character who falls completely flat for me. If they had balanced out the over-the-topness just a little more, I could have gotten into the show. Lack of balance wrecks a character far faster than anything else.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

227 Photos

I went down to the river walk today because I was in the mood to take some new photos. 227 later, I headed home. Yeah, that's right, I took 227 photos today. Of course, once I get that pared down, I'll have a great number fewer. Among those 227, many are multiple shots of the same thing at slightly different angles and distances to make sure that I get just the right photo. In particular, I took a ton of photos of the fountain that shoots water up in the air, because I want to be able to sort through just the right "moment."

It's just like writing, where you might write out a whole character biography or extended scene, but use only a fraction of it. But, you write it out anyway, because you need the extra so you can decide which part of it is just right.

(P.S. This photo was #7 out of 15+ of the lamp posts on the bridge)

Friday, July 3, 2009

Agent Investigation

This month for CWC, our mission is to do some investigation. Each of us will be researching some agents in our genre and coming in with a list and background info on each agent. The idea is to start getting some concrete ideas about the best agents for our work.

That, my friends, is my theme for this month. I'm going to be doing lots of research about where the Cass book would get the warmest reception, and I challenge you to do some digging for your own work. So, pick something - a story, a poem, your novel - and start looking around at which magazine/publisher/agent might be a good fit for your work. You've spent all this time writing brilliant things, now it's time to prepare for showing your baby off.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

WPW: Balance

This morning I am practicing balance.
I practice balance with pebbles and rocks and boulders
and other things.
Three pebbles in this hand, one rock in the other.
A boulder in this hand, a thousand pebbles in that one.
Rocks and tree branches.
Raspberries and avocados.
Sunshine and recycled paper.
I balance feathers on my nose
and radio waves on my toes.
A spider web dangles from my pinky finger
offset with a whisper held in my opposite hand.
This morning I am practicing balance,
picking up and putting down
one thing after another,
trying to keep even.