I love THAT

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For the past few months, I’ve been engaged in the writerly task of editing four books. I do this full-time for about 14 hours a day, divvying the tasks up into four categories: 1) borderline boring, 2) terribly tedious, 3) downright dreary, and 4) mega mind-numbing. That way I can mix them up for a little variety.

One of the editing passes that I undertake is the arduous process of “enlivening my words.” I use the search function on Word to look up dull words and one by one swap them out for more interesting ones. At the tippity-top of the humdrum list is “was.” An exceedingly handy verb but not a writer’s best friend. I allow myself an average of one “wuz” per page. This means looking up about 600 wuzzes and switching 300 of them out. For 4 books, I’ll comb through approximately 2,400 wuzzes.  Ack!

I have 33 wimpy, weak, crutch words that I put through this process, none as dreadful as “was” though “had” ranks right up there in second place. It takes forever.

I’ve completed all my swaps except for the last – Word #33: THAT.

For some reason that I can’t explain, I just love that word. I could write that word in every sentence that I write. And that’s a problem. Plus that’s a word that’s hard to replace without completely changing the way that a sentence is written. I know that other writers can figure that out without that much trouble, but that’s easier said than done. For me, that’s an editing step that takes tons of time that I could use to make other changes that would improve my work.

Good Grief. Ha ha.

Okay, I gotta cut this out so I can cut that out. Wish me luck – only about 3,000 to go.

Flame #writephoto

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Thanks to Sue Vincent of The Daily Echo for her Thursday #writephoto prompt.

Going Hungry

“Eat your dinner.” Mogreth’s father wagged a half-eaten leg bone at the meat sizzling on the flames.

“I’m not hungry.” Mogreth slumped on the log bench.

“Your mother’s testing a new marinade. The least you can do is try it.”

Mogreth watched his mother gnaw on a thigh bone. Last night, she cooked a rump roast that his father gobbled without taking a breath. Tomorrow, she would probably grill ribs slathered in fat. Maybe stir up a meaty stew with grisly leftovers and giblets. Mogreth wrinkled his nose at the thought. “Why can’t we steam some broccoli or cauliflower?”

“Vegetables are horrible for your health,” his mother said. “Have you ever considered the havoc they wreak on your digestion?”

“Disgusting,” his father muttered and tossed the bone over his shoulder into the growing pile.

“I could grow my own,” Mogreth pleaded. “I found the perfect spot for a garden.”

His parents sighed with weariness, exhausted by his perpetual nagging. But he couldn’t help it. He wasn’t like other teenagers with their bristly hair and yellow, stumpy teeth. His room was immaculate, clothes pressed, shoes polished to a spiffy nut-brown. He studied books on horticulture and nutrition, his thick fingers gliding over the glossy pictures. If he had his druthers, he’d spend his days digging in the soil, pockets bulging with seed packets and dreams brimming with the perfect zucchini.

He stared into the fire. No one understood his longing, his peers least of all. They preferred exploring caves, stomping on small animals, and clubbing villagers, a divergence in tastes that made him a prime target for teasing.

“You really should try this.” His father beckoned to his mother for another crispy morsel. “The sauce adds just the right amount of zing. Clears the sinuses. Nothing like food roasted over an open flame.”

Mogreth’s mother giggled at the compliment. “Don’t wait too long or your father’s going to suck the meat off that last bone.”

“Help yourself.” Mogreth waved a gloomy hand at the charred meat. He might be a troll, but the whole idea of munching on villagers disgusted him. He’d rather go hungry.

A bit of silliness since I’m in an editing fog.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday Blog Share: 30 Fun Things to Say to a Complete Stranger on an Elevator

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30 Fun Things to Say to a Complete Stranger on an Elevator

by Brian Lageose

1. Thank you for choosing to fly with us today.

2. You know, it’s proper etiquette that you knock before you just barge in here.

3. What are your thoughts on public nudity?

4. Did you know that serial killers really like to push buttons that light up?

5. I don’t understand why it’s never the right floor when the doors open.

6. Because I’m free. Free as I’ll ever be.

7. Will you be my Facebook friend?

8. I couldn’t help but noticing that both of your shoes are the same color.

9. I sure hope the oxygen masks work this time.

10. If you stop on every floor, you get a candy bar.

11. We go together, like rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong. We sure do.

12. I would have taken the stairs, but Jesus told me I shouldn’t. Not today.

14. Would you like the rest of my bagel?

15. If the elevator falls, and you jump at just the right time, you won’t get hurt.

(Continue Laughing: 30 Fun Things to Say to a Complete Stranger on an Elevator)

My Holidays Limerick

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My Holidays Limerick

A cold has me stuffed in the sack
How I sniffle, I sneeze and I hack
The laptop is dusty
Inspiration is fusty
Yet, it feels mighty grand to be back

Oh, the holiday season was fun
Though I’m gleeful the chaos is done
Bye family and friends
Eating fudge had to end
Or we’d all end up weighing a ton

Saint Nick wanted cookies this year
And carrots to feed his reindeer
But Grampy was fast
The treats didn’t last
No cookies for Santa, I fear

You might get a laugh or a shock
To hear we got mittens and socks
A boy named Tornado
Got Legos and Play-Dough
All wrapped in a colorful box

New Years was dreadfully lame
No fireworks bursting in flame
No bubbly or wine
I was snoring by nine
All sickly and achy and tame

The blog suffered scarcely a peek
Between games of hide-and-go-seek
I was tempted to read
But the days passed with speed
And they rapidly turned to weeks!

No, I didn’t prep one single post
of which I can merrily boast
I finished draft two
A feat that will do
Now to blogging or my butt is toast

To my pals in the wide blogosphere
I wish you world peace and good cheer
The blessings of health
In friendship great wealth
And a bountiful, happy new year

This poem was inspired by cough medicine that made me a little loopy. I pre-scheduled it for JUNE and wondered why it didn’t post this morning.

I have a ton of catching up to do! It’s going to take me a bit, but I’ll be over to say “hi” soon. 🙂

Tornado Boy

The Real Tornado Boy

The Terrible Night Before Christmas

This tale started circulating again and I thought I might as well repost. Tis the season, after all. A Happy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Myths of the Mirror

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This story won a Kellan Publishing challenge in Dec. 2014. It had to fall between 1000-1500 words, and use the following words/phrases: Santa Claus, Popcorn, Photo Album, Black Cat, Train, Slide, Police, Sled, Typewriter, Horn, Alarm, Church, Glue, Bow, Fire, Dragon.

The Terrible Night before Christmas

The whole escapade started with the black cat. Santa leaned forward in his rickety office chair, puffing on his stumpy pipe and wreathing his head in smoke. He pecked with two chubby fingers at his typewriter, finishing a last letter to a second-grader in the Bronx. The kid was bound for disappointment this year, the result of a spectacular imagination and a dose of new-fangled animation that left make-believe characters appearing plausible. A challenge for the elves who prided themselves on unabashed creativity.

Dear Chuck,

I hope you enjoy the train set, hand-carved by a master elf in my workshop. I realize you requested a live…

View original post 1,386 more words

250 Words per Hour

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Not long ago, my muse gave me an ultimatum (here) – Write or Else!

So I’ve been writing, keeping up my end of the bargain and then some, writing 6-10 hours a day, 5 days a week. I start at 5 a.m. and write until about 3. Then 3-4 hours of blogging. It’s been a challenge especially when the holidays started revving up.

For me, writing that many hours means letting other things slide like getting dressed, showering, brushing teeth, eating, cooking, laundry, holiday shopping, dishes, and vacuuming. Coffee is about all that gets accomplished with religious fervency.

This morning, a couple of people stopped by unexpectedly to have me sign some paperwork (our area is getting high-speed internet in 2017!). We stood outside in the sleet because I just couldn’t bear to usher them into my disaster area. When I went back inside, I walked by a mirror and noticed that my clothes were on backwards and inside out. Seams showing and the tag of my shirt flapping at my throat like a teeny white necktie. Ha ha. Yeesh.

But I also finished the first draft of the fourth book in my next series. I write about 250 words per hour. A first draft takes me about 400 hours. Subsequent drafts, maybe another 400 for a total of 800 hours per book. Four books? That’s about 3,200 hours.

Now really? Tell me. What writer has time to worry about whether her clothes are on front forward and right-side out? What do you let slide?

Sunday Blog Share: 12 things your grandparents said…

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12 things your grandparents said…

By Sue Vincent

When you are very young, forty seems ancient and grandparents are, of course, so old they are practically another species. Like dinosaurs…almost- but-not-quite extinct and very much at home in museums. Their homes bear the traces of a ‘bygone era’…you know, a whole twenty years ago… and it is impossible to imagine yourself walking in their shoes. Not that you would be seen dead in them…

I clearly remember my own feeling of awe when my mother reached the venerable age of thirty. I was already pretty much grown up… in my own eyes at least… and could barely conceive of a time when I would be that old. These days, of course, thirty is a spring chicken and…

(Continued: 12 things your grandparents said…)