Mark Terry

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Daily Goals

August 31, 2010
For the longest time--years--I would write 5 pages a day on whatever novel I was working on. I could crank that out in 30 minutes or an hour and I'd be done.

Then I started writing for a living. And the fiction writing got crammed in with a lot of other writing and sometimes I had more immediate deadlines to deal with and the fiction writing dropped down on the priority list and I would squeak it in at the end of the day. Still, I tried for 5 pages. But I was happy sometimes with one or two (and some days I didn't write fiction at all).

And for the record, all you people on Facebook who routinely announce your word count each day--okay, never mind. I was going to say something really rude, but I'll hold my tongue.

It occurred to me this week that if I have any intention of actually completing the next Derek Stillwater in a timely fashion, I'd better stop screwing around with a page a day (or so). That I'd really better get back in the 5-pages-per-day routine or I wasn't going to be done with this sucker until next spring sometime.

So I'm trying to put in 5 pages a day. And I'm finding that when I do, I tend to get on a roll and it flies along. Maybe the 1 page or so, low-priority thing is self-defeating. Maybe it takes me a couple pages to prime the pump. Maybe like my runs, it takes me a while to get warmed up.

I don't know, but it goes better when I try to write 5 pages a day.

How about you?

Monday, August 30, 2010


August 30, 2010
I've been thinking about my youngest son and the three friends he hangs out with the most. In their own way they're all great kids, but they also have distinct personalities, so distinct in many ways that they seem like they can be a primer on personalities in fiction. They are:

The Schemer. The Schemer (as my oldest son calls him) is clean-cut, polite, and brilliant. He's the one I worry about the most because "the schemer" is exactly the correct term for him. If Sean and him are out doing something, it invariably escalates into something ... uh ... well, it's like them asking if they can go swimming down at the lake (The Schemer has lake access) and I say sure, and I go down 30 minutes later to check on them to find them in the middle of the lake on the inflatable kayak, wearing life jackets, swimming. Um, not what I had in mind, guys. Or hooking up the recycling bucket to the skateboard and pulling it behind the bike. Or getting hold of two cans of spray paint and painting the bike ... and adding duct tape to the tires ... or... well, you get the idea. The Schemer's brain is in constant overdrive (we once described him to his father as a 40-year-old endocrinologist because of some of the sophisticated things that pop out of his mouth) and "what if..." often becomes reality.

A.D.D. A.D.D. can't sit still. He's constantly active, whether it's racing cars on foot as they drive by the house, swimming, biking, climbing trees, whatever. My son is one of the few kids who can keep up with him, although he tires of their always having to do what A.D.D. wants to do. My wife and I think he's a good kid, but he can be sort of mouthy and he's the world's pickiest eater. We gave up accommodating his eating habits a year or so ago and pretty much say, "We're having this. If you want to stay, fine. If not, we'll see you later." He also doesn't stick with things much, although soccer and being a drummer seems to be working. But not much else has, including basketball, swimming, guitar, trombone... (Also, the mouthiness seems to be fading. Hopefully he's growing out of it, because my wife and I were getting tired of staring him down and suggesting he go home).

The Vidi-It. This is a really sweet kid. He has a twin sister and he's being raised by two women. He's mellow, accommodating, eats anything, very laid-back, but the only thing--and I pretty much mean ONLY thing--he's interested in doing is playing video games. If we don't kick them outside when he comes over, they'll play video games nonstop for 8 or 10 or 12 hours... and vice versa.

Sean. Well, all-American kid, sometimes. A little internal, but he can be very social. A natural athlete, he's moved from super swimmer to cross country. His sax teacher calls him a genius. One of our friends asked us once if there was anything he tried that he didn't succeed at. The truth: not so much. Needs to be prodded to read and get better grades in classes he doesn't like, especially if they're before about 10:00 in the morning. Tall for his age, long blond hair, blue eyes, we think he must have been switched at birth. Sort of a Babe Magnet, although he's mostly oblivious. I'm fairly sure he won't be in a few more years. Very sweet with enough attitude to help him survive the world. I suspect he's a chameleon, because there's a subversive nature to his personality that we see that I don't think his teachers and friends' parents see.

How about you? Any personality types in your area?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

What I've Been Reading

August 28, 2010
Here's the last 10 books I've read.

1. House Secrets by Mike Lawson

2. John Adams by David McCullough

3. The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon by David Grann

4. The Silent Man by Alex Berenson

5. House Justice by Mike Lawson

6. Magickeepers: The Pyramid of Souls by Erica Kirov

7. The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds

8. Imperial Life in the Emerald City: Inside Iraq’s Green Zone by Rajiv Chandrasekaran

9. No Mercy by John Gilstrap

10. The Confessor by Daniel Silva

Not a dud in the bunch. I pretty much recommend all of them.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Thank You

August 26, 2010
Thank you, everyone.


Gearing Up

August 26, 2010
My mother passed away late yesterday afternoon. She was 83.

I noticed, as I scrambled this morning to get things done so I can go down to Chelsea to help my brother and sister deal with things, that after the initial shock and sadness and the sort of blank inability to process details (okay, I'm sure I wasn't the only one), that now we're all gearing up. We're pulling together when we're meeting and where, what needs to be done and how. Plans are being made.

I suspect that's a part of how we deal with death and how we move on. By moving on, by taking care of all the life details that have to be dealt with.

As my friend Erica commented recently on Facebook, quoting from somebody, Robert Frost?, that the only thing they have learned about life is that it goes on.

Talk to you later.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Body of Work

August 25, 2010
I think most writers--myself most definitely included--get tangled up in the commercial aspects of whatever project we're working on. God knows it's what most closely resembles writer's block for me.

Sometimes, though, I gain perspective. I realize that I have a body of work. Here are my published or soon-to-be published books.

The Valley of Shadows (Hardcover, June 2011)

31-1/2 Essentials For Running Your Medical Practice (Trade paperback, October 2010)
by John Guiliana, DPM and Hal Ornstein, DPM, with Mark Terry

The Battle For Atlantis (E-Book, June 2010)

Monster Seeker (E-Book, June 2010)

The Fallen (Hardcover and e-book, April 2010)

Edge (formerly Dancing In The Dark), (E-Book, June 2009)

The Serpent's Kiss (Trade paperback and e-book, July 2007)
[also published in French, German, and Slovak. Slovak are in hardcover]

The Devil's Pitchfork (Trade paperback and e-book, October 2006)
[also published in French, German, and Slovak. Slovak are in hardcover]

Dirty Deeds (trade paperback, May 2004)

Catfish Guru (trade paperback, March 2002)

I've also had a short story published in an anthology (hardcover and mass market paperback), a short story published in an online publication, and an essay that appears in a collection of essays (hardcover).

I've also published well over 600 magazine articles, book reviews, journal articles, columns, market research reports, white papers and other miscellaneous things.

It sure does accumulate.

I would also point out that ultimately, my body of work includes a few million words of unpublished novels, scripts, short stories, essays, blog posts, and other things. Just because they're not necessarily published does not mean they don't count as part of my body of work. Perhaps someday there will be some graduate student in contemporary literature or popular culture or something who spends a couple years sifting through the detritus of my writing, talking about themes and the development of style, etc. Or maybe not. Maybe my books will exist on a couple library shelves, in some computer memory bank somewhere, and handed down or lost by my children or readers to show up in antique shops, used bookstores, and somebody's basement, attic, or dug up by some archaeologist in a landfill.

In many ways it doesn't matter. I have a body of work and that's what matters to me. That and my ability to make money that allows me to live the lifestyle I currently live. Sometimes it matters a lot to look at all I've had published and all I've written, especially when I'm getting bogged down in the abattoir of modern publishing.

How about you? Do you have a body of work?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

RED or BLACK????

August 24, 2010
Although my publisher might kill me for posting these this early, here are two potential covers for next year's Derek Stillwater novel, THE VALLEY OF SHADOWS.

One had a black title. The other has a red & black title. Which would you vote for?

A Random Bit

August 24, 2010
Because I was drawing a blank, here's a little bit of writing from a book that may or may not be out this year on the Kindle titled HOT MONEY. Enjoy.

I have a staff of one. His name is Brad Ballenger and he goes, unfortunately, by BB. BB has a mind like a Cray supercomputer, is totally un-intimidated by me and is, by his own definition, gayer than springtime.

BB was tall and thin—he prefers the word “willowy”—with neatly coiffed dark hair and impeccable taste in clothing. I don’t think it was a gay thing. I think it was a BB thing. Today he was wearing a gray three-piece suit, blue silk shirt and Hermes tie. He was at his desk in the outer office. I said, “New tie?”

He draped it over his outstretched hand. “You like?”

It was powder blue with little spouting whales printed on it. “I do. I must pay you very well,” I said. “You get the signed contract from McGarrity?”

“Signed and the deposit made into your account.”

“That’s a damned good thing. Lock the outer door and come into the office with me. I need a witness.”

“That doesn’t sound so good.”

“It’s been an interesting morning.”

* * *

My office had a spectacular view of the Potomac and a decent view of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. I could also catch a glimpse of the Saudi Embassy if I was so inclined. I really preferred the Potomac. A handful of boats were buzzing south, white on blue. I wished I was on one of them at the moment.

I had a large desk that I didn’t often use. There was a collection of caramel-colored leather furniture—a sofa and two chairs--and mission-style end tables and a glass coffee table, with three matching lamps whose shades were stained glass.

Dropping my laptop on the desk, I gently set the briefcase down on the glass end table. I called Tony at the car company and we talked for a minute about how insane the city was becoming, when carjackers would hit you in broad daylight only a couple blocks from the White House. He told me he was calling the cops and reporting it for insurance purposes and they might contact me for corroboration. I told him no problem, let him yammer, then hung up.

BB drifted in. “What’s up, boss?”

“Bring the camera, please.”

When he got back, I gestured toward the briefcase. BB peered through the camera and said, “Let me adjust the lights. I’ve got some glare here. What’s in it?”

“Three guesses and the first two don’t count.”

Fussing with the blinds, BB said, “Jimmy Hoffa’s remains.”

“One down.”

“The Vice President’s soul.”

“He doesn’t have one. Two down.” I opened the attaché case.

“Money, money, money. That would’ve been my next guess.”

“Start taking pictures.”

* * *

It was mathematical and precise. One hundred packets of one hundred dollar bills, all face up, Benjamin Franklin right there giving me that little smirk of his. Each packet contained one hundred bills.

Do the math. A nice round number. One million dollars. Cold hard cash. Hot money.

BB said, “Where we headin’? Rio? I vote for Nice.”

I stared at the bottom of the attaché and said, “Huh.”

I unscrewed one of the lampshades and brought the lamp over so it directly illuminated the briefcase. Something seemed a little odd.

Patting down the interior of the briefcase, I felt something that didn’t seem quite right. Crossing over to the bathroom, I retrieved my pedicure kit. In addition to an Emory board, fingernail and toenail clippers, it had a pair of tweezers. I used the tweezers to pull a small, black metal disk off the base of the briefcase.

I looked at BB and shook my head, finger to my lips.

Probing further, I found another one. It looked different. I was pretty sure why.

I thought for a moment, then took both disks into the bathroom, placed them on the edge of the sink and turned on the water. I left, closing the door after me.

BB shot me a puzzled look. In my formative years I had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency, spending a couple years attempting to overthrow foreign governments that the Agency felt needing overthrowing. We were, I can say with some modestly, wildly fucking successful.

The problem was that the outcomes were not always what we hoped for in the long run. Shitty governments are often replaced by even shittier governments, often run by significantly more violent and ruthless dictators. But hey, it was a living.

Anyway, I recognized a bug when I saw one. And I was fairly suspicious that the second disk was some sort of GPS locator. That would explain why two guys in black leather jackets driving a white Ford Taurus had been so quick to try and steal the money back.

“Call McGarrity and tell him I want the names and resumés of all of his staff. And I mean all of his staff. And tell him to have his office swept for bugs. The electronic kind.”

BB glanced toward the bathroom. “And what are you going to do?”

“Talk to a friend over at Meade.”

Fort Meade, Maryland, home of the National Security Agency.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Don't Know How To Write Anymore

August 23, 2010
I'm reading THE CONFESSOR by Daniel Silva. It's a fine espionage novel. Silva is an excellent writer. I enjoy it. But he's a very, very different writer than I am, one who is apparently lauded by literary critics and others who applaud a certain type of writing. Here's a paragraph that I read last night and have been pondering ever since.

Foa peered down a marble-floored corridor. At the end was an open door giving onto a pompous office. Seated behind a polished desk was a forbidding figure named Rudolf Gertz, the former Austrian television journalist who was now the head of the Vatican Press Office. It was against the rules to set foot in the corridor without permission. Foa decided on a suicide run. When the nun wasn't looking, he leapt down the hall like a springbok. A few steps from Gertz's door a burly priest seized Foa by his coat collar and lifted him off the floor. Foa managed to hold up the bollettino.

Here's my problem, the one single f-ing word that makes me question whether I even know how to write. It's the word "pompous" in the second sentence.

At the end of the open door giving onto a pompous office.

No description of the office except to say that is has a polished desk. No indication if it is large. If the furniture is expensive. If it is floored with polished oak, antique rugs, or high-grade wool. If the polished desk is made of the boabob tree, if it is a modern monstrosity hand-carved from teak harvested from a sunken ship, if it has walls of glass that overlook St. Peter's Square with the basilica imposing the skyline.

That said, I rather like the "suicide run" thing and the "leapt down the hall like a springbok."

But that "pompous office" thing kicked my sad and sorry ass right out of the story as I contemplated what a "pompous office" actually was and what it might look like.

Now, I'm not slamming Silva here at all. I think he's quite good and his books are as well, but I sort of latched onto "pompous office" as being the sort of thing that literary critics, college professors and certain book editors like, and I'll be damned if I know why. Is is the sort of laziness that we're told not to use and why adjectives and adverbs are so dangerous? Or was it an imaginative shortcut to avoid details?

Any thoughts?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Future of E-Publishing

August 19, 2010
I shall reiterate my bona fides:

I have been published in trade paperback and in hardcover. I have been published by a "medium press" (Midnight Ink, an imprint of a very large non-NY publisher, Llewellyn) and by two small presses (Oceanview Publishing and High Country Publishers) and a nonfiction book coming out from another (Greenbranch Publishing). I had a short story appear in an anthology that was published by one of the Big 6 in both Hardcover and in mass market paperback. I published a book via iUniverse.

I have had e-books published by my publisher (The Fallen) and I have self-published e-books for the Kindle (Monster Seeker, Edge, and The Battle for Atlantis), as well as released traditionally published novels as e-book reprints (The Devil's Pitchfork and The Serpent's Kiss).

Here is what I have concluded about the future of e-publishing based on my experiences with it:

It's growing.

I can't make any other predictions than that. There's not enough evidence and my experiments with it are somewhat inconclusive, although my e-book sales also can be defined as "growing" although not to the degree that I'm jumping up and down and willing to turn down traditional publishing contracts (far from it). I am, however, willing to invest some time and money and energy into e-publishing some projects that either haven't found a home or are unlikely to find a home. It's still experimental, but the investment in money tends to be low, so it's likely that at the very least I'll make my money (if not necessarily my time) back.

So there ya go. The Sage of E-Publishing Hath Spoken. Thus Spake Mark.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Refrigerator Magnets

August 18, 2010
That picture is of our refrigerator. There are a number of magnets related to band (my favorite says: I used to have a life, then I became a band parent), and a couple are things done by the kids, but the majority of them are a family tradition--whenever one of us travels (usually me) on a trip or a vacation, we pick up a refrigerator magnet for that location.

Studying it is like running down memory lane. Oh yeah, that Disney trip! I remember that business trip to Baltimore! Hey, Tim & Liz's wedding!

And I thought: What's on my character's refrigerator?

Derek Stillwater lives on a boat, a 60-foot Criss-Craft Constellation, but I've never really thought about what's on (or in) his refrigerator. Most of the books have maybe a single scene on the boat and he typically leaves rather quickly. But... Is there a Post-It note saying: Pick up .45 ammo??? Or: Update anthrax vacc.??? Or: Write Letter Of Resignation????

Or maybe there's a candid photograph of his ex-wife. Or a casual photograph taken with him and a lady friend, maybe Jill Church or Cassandra O'Reilly or a schedule of things he needs to do, like give a lecture, attend a meeting, buy paint for his boat, get the oil changed on his pickup truck.

All interesting questions.

So what's on your fridge? And what's on your character's fridge?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sniffing Pooh

August 17, 2010
I took Frodo out for his morning walk and, like most days, that involved stopping every 5 or 10 feet to sniff something and then pee on it. (Frodo, not me. I just stood there).

Toward the end of this slow process (gee, I thought I was taking him out for his exercise; he thought I was taking him out so he could pee on the universe), we came across some pooh in the road and he sniffed and sniffed and I thought, "Is there anything in this that relates to writing that I can put on my blog?" because, you know, I was just thinking about all of you while watching Frodo sniff pooh in the road. Go figure.

And I thought, Well, yeah, because it's useful to know what the other dogs, er, writers, in the world are doing. In our genre, if we're genre writers, and in general. I look through the bestseller lists to see what's selling, even if I don't necessarily read all the books there, and I at least skim through book review sections to see what's new and notable, whether they inspire me to read them or not. And I read a lot.

Within my genre, which is loosely "thriller" and less loosely "action-adventure thriller" and/or "political thriller" and/or "espionage," I read quite a bit. I recently read NO MERCY by John Gilstrap, who has writing sensibilities so closely aligned with my own that I had one of those Ah-ha! moments in which I recognized a successful author who is playing on exactly the same tennis court I am (and kicking my ass in the process, but that's a different story, we're probably not really exactly competing), and I'm reading THE CONFESSOR by Daniel Silva because he keeps raising the fricking bar for espionage novels and I want to see how differently he approaches things than I do (very, very differently)...

But I also sniff the pooh (ahem) of many other writers in other genres because it expands my brain and shows me other techniques and clears my head from the conventions of the thriller genre. And I don't discount that last part one bit. Two years ago I was a judge for ITW's Thriller Award and I had about 40 thrillers in a very short period of time and what got to me the most wasn't the crap, because there were very few poorly-written books in that selection, but how many of the books had a similar feel to them because of the conventions of the genre. I suppose it's like reading 40 sonnets by Shakespeare all in a row. You can note how different and well done each one is, but by the end you're pretty much sick of 13 lines of iambic pentameter and are ready for a haiku or good dirty limerick or two.

Which reminds me...

You know nature quite often calls,
I've been known to defile a few walls
You call me a dog?
Well, my brain is agog!
Never once have I licked my own balls!
--Graeme King

With apologies to, well, everybody.
Mark Terry

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Nurse, A Doctor, and a Minister

August 15, 2010
My mother has recently been classified as being moved to "Comfort Care" which I guess is a somewhat touch-feely euphemism for hospice, although I don't doubt there's some variation on what they're actually doing.

Anyway, with that comes some thinking, and I was reflecting today that my mother said of her three children that she hoped one would become a nurse, one would become a doctor, and one would become a minister.

Well, my sister's a nurse. One down (Gee, Beth, you're so easy).

My brother is a professor, i.e., doctorate, although the doctorate is a DMA, or Doctor of Musical Arts, which is equivalent to a PhD, but instead of writing a research thesis, since he was getting his doctorate in music composition and theory, he wrote an orchestra piece and had it performed. So, let's say "doctor" with a qualifier in there.

Hmmm. No, not a minister. On the other hand, I could argue that even with my modest book sales my, ahem, "sermons" probably reach a far larger audience than most ministers' (and hopefully don't have the common effect sermons often have of putting their audience to sleep, ahem), although I'm not sure my repetitive and egregious use of words like "fuck" are often heard in sermons (or maybe I'm just going to the wrong churches).

Well, 1 and 1/2 for a 50% hit-ratio, that's not bad. And as far as I know there are no serial killers among the three of us and we're all reasonably happily married with reasonably healthy and well-adjusted children (and even grandchildren in the case of my sister), I doubt my mother has anything to complain about, at least in terms of what became of her children. Well done, Mom, well done.

So, thoughts? What did your parents have in mind for you?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Sorta Hiatusing, Ya Know

August 5, 2010
So, you know, I was chaperoning marching band camp again last night, and hoping I could get home early to get some work done before I have to drive back up to camp for the final performance and to pick up my kid, but STILL have time to do some packing for leaving on vacation tomorrow, but instead my wife and I had to stay for breakfast and deal with some band booster issues (i.e., write checks), so I didn't get home until 10:30, and then I had a problem with a camera connection so I had to run off to the store to get some photos developed ASAP for, well, never mind, but the gist of it is, I'm heading off on vacation not-soon-enough and I may or may not be posting here, we'll see. So... see ya.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Emotionally Appropriate

August 5, 2010
Hey, did you hear the one about the 9/11 widow who walked into a bar...?

No, I didn't think so (although maybe Ann Coulter has a joke about that, who knows?)

Last week USA Today, which writes little mini-reviews about a couple of the night's TV shows, had a comment about the upcoming episode of PSYCH in which they noted the character of Sean made jokes in front of the parents of a missing child (or murdered child, I don't remember which). They noted that the show was increasingly writing emotionally inappropriate dialogue, throwing in jokes just to have a joke, even though they didn't make emotional sense.

I suppose this is a bookend to yesterday's post about inappropriate comments depending on your audience.

I think it's important that our character's respond in an emotionally appropriate way. That isn't to say that you might have a character who jokes in front of, say, a 9/11 widow or in front of parents who just lost a child. But it needs to be consistent for that character. Maybe the character is an insensitive asshole, or perhaps the character deals with stress by making inappropriate jokes. How you deal with it and explain it and justify it is important.

I think this is more likely to happen in humor books and there's a whole subcategory of crime fiction that's funny. In that respect the entire book seems to exist in a universe all its own (maybe they all do). JA Konrath's Jack Daniels' novels mix dark and bloody violence with black humor and for the most part work, although they don't work all the time and for all audiences.

I think it can be a trick to figure out how to make a character emotionally real and still get them to function. JK Rowling, when asked why Harry Potter was so angry in The Order of the Phoenix and in The Half-Blood Prince, she noted that in real life Harry would probably be a basketcase or psychotic, given that his parents had been murdered, he'd been raised by abusive relatives, faced down a serial killer, a troll, a three-headed dog, a giant serpent, a dragon, watched his best friend's sister almost die, was assaulted by a teacher (Lockhart), threatened by another adult (Lucius Malfoy), fought off merman and grindylows, saw a friend and student murdered in front of him, fought off a cult of killers, fought off a serial killer (again)...

It's amazing Harry's not institutionalized, isn't it? So him being pissed is the least of it.

I'm reading NO MERCY by John Gilstrap (which totally rocks, by the way) and the main character, Jonathan Grave, is a former special forces guy who now acts as a kidnap retrieval expert. And he notes that he doesn't dream, which is odd given how many people he's killed and how many tight situations he's been in. His friend, Dom, who is a priest, suggests that it's because his life is so scary that sleep is where he flees to, while most people flee their nightmares to get to real life. I'm not sure the psychology makes complete sense, but I thought it was interesting and made for great character building. And it's completely, emotionally appropriate.


Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Grew Up On A Chicken Farm

August 3, 2010
A while back I was channel-surfing and got caught up in some stupid reality TV show. I think it was on MTV and it had a bunch of couples who were basically going through counseling. Some of the couples just needed pointers on communication, one needed to be sent to different parts of the planet where they will never see each other again. One of the couples had a problem that I thought was interesting, but I'm not sure was solvable. (I'm also not sure just how much people on these reality shows play up their traits for TV or how much is scripted or how much is the TV producers just showing the nastiest, stupidest moments).

Anyway, one of the challenges of the show was the women were to get all dressed and made up as the "woman of your dreams" of the men. (There's much ugly to be said about that, but that's not my point today). Many of the men's reactions were seemingly appropriate. (One, again, I thought needed to be protected from himself, possibly by having an anchor tied to his ankles and thrown into the deepest part of the ocean). I personally thought a smart guy before the women got all dressed up, etc., might have said, "You're the woman of my dreams no matter how you are dressed and made up," but that kind of thinking was rather too sophisticated for TV, this group of chowderheads, and probably doesn't make for great TV, and besides, one of my wedding dance songs was Billy Joel's "Just The Way You Are."

One of the guys, whose main problem was he was unable to change what came out of his mouth for different audiences (i.e., he spoke to his girlfriend the way he would talk to his buds while drinking beer and playing poker at a bachelor party), said when he saw his gorgeous girlfriend all made up, said, "You must have grown up on a chicken farm." The host of the show interrupted him ... tried desperately to interrupt him, repeatedly, to shut him off from inserting both feet up to his knees in his mouth, to, in point of fact, to save him from himself. But alas, this is reality TV, and the guy finished his sentence, "because you sure know how to raise a cock."

Well, I sort of like the joke in all its raw inappropriateness, but time and place, time and place... and audience.

And I thought about in the movie "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" when Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are talking (in between trying to kill each other) and he asks her (or vice versa, I don't remember) what she/he thought when they first saw each other. She says something about, "I thought, what a perfect mark." He said he thought, "You looked like Christmas morning."

Compare "you looked like Christmas morning" to "you look like you were raised on a chicken farm."

Both are pretty good, really, and I think you could use either one in a work of fiction (of which I tend to classify so-called Reality TV), but it would depend a tremendous amount on what you were trying to achieve, how you were trying to characterize the character in question, and your audience.


Monday, August 02, 2010

Lend A Hand...

August 2, 2010
You wouldn't believe the last couple of days. Oy. I'll write about it later, but between family crises involving my elderly mother and chaperoning marching band camp, I barely know what time of day it is, let alone WHAT day it is. (Monday, right?) Add to that the breakdown of my computer's keyboard--a bunch of keys don't work, like s and x and, oh, ya gotta love this, @, which means I can't even log into things with my email (yeah, new keyboard's on its way)--I'm a bit discombobulated, a word I don't use too often. But, that's self-serving whining, things are basically under control. But... a blog friend has bigger problems, and I hope you can help. I'll just cut & paste Erica Orloff's message here and include her email address, since I don't have the address...

In this little corner of the blogworld, most of us are book lovers. Book lovers and writers, people who say, "I've been writing stories since I could hold a pen," or "I was the kid holding the flashlight under the covers and reading past bedtime." In this little corner of the blogworld, we've also watched out for our own.

Merry Monteleone (Mom and More) and her family were in the midst of raging flood waters in Westchester that happened when heavy rains hit Chicago. The contents of the downstairs of her house were lost (it's been gutted), and though it's just "stuff" (lives were lost in the flooding), most of us can imagine how it would feel to watch photo albums and meaningful memories wrapped up in the "stuff" of our families . . . be carried off.

While big "stuff" can be replaced with insurance, Merry lost all her books, and a group of us decided to replace them--with Amazon gift cards, with books, with signed copies of books, with ARCs. We want to see the blogosphere flood her mailbox with good wishes and replace her library. If you love books and your TBR pile is as tall as you are, you know what they mean to her.

What can you do? Send books! Send Amazon cards! Reach out to your favorite authors and ask them to send her a signed copy! For her address or more information, contact:

She has three children middle school and younger. Their books were in their bedrooms and most survived, but it would be great to get some books just for them, too!

Do something nice today. It will make you feel good.