“Peanuts” Character Reveals Writing Secret

A classic Peanuts cartoon strip by Charles Schulz appeared in a recent Sunday newspaper and the punchline exemplifies what some writing gurus have advised.

Linus is at his school desk writing on the theme of returning to school after summer vacation. Over three captions we see he has written this: ” No one can deny the joys of a summer vacation with its days of warmth and freedom. It must be admitted, however, that the true joy lies in returning to our halls of learning. Is not life itself a learning process? Do we not mature according to our learning. Do not each of us desire that he…”

And there it stops.

The next three panels show him taking the paper to the teacher’s desk, handing in the paper, and returning to his desk.

Then you see him saying “Yes, Ma’am? Oh . . Why, thank you . . I’m glad you liked it . . ”

The final panel shows him sitting sideways, one elbow on the desk behind him where Charlie Brown is sitting. Linus says, “As the years go by, you learn what sells!”

Linus knew his audience; it was the teacher. And he also knew what she wanted, in essence, to hear, so he wrote what she wanted, hoping to ingratiate himself, of course, and get a good grade.

If there is a hot market that readers are feasting on, you can jump on that bandwagon and if the bandwagon is not crowded and the market has yet to be devoured, you have a shot of finding an audience. But what is hot now can soon fade away.

Or you can write what you want to write and hope you find an audience. If you write in the genre that most appeals to you, I belive your writing will be better.

Each approach has its drawbacks, nothing is guaranteed, but you must chart your writing course through tricky waters no matter which direction you go. Write well, edit even better, and write a little everyday. And be cool like Linus.

I turned in my e-books to Amazon

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Are you beautiful or lovely-the difference

The definitions I am using from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary come from a blog I subscribe to by CS Perryess. On should give credit where credit is due. He loves words and old dictionaries. These definitions are great for writers because writers need to be specific; the right word for the right reason.

I will compare words from the 1959 Webster’s New World Dictionary that Perryess cited to my 2000 American Heritage Dictionary.

Beautiful: 59 Webster says, “applied to that which gives the highest degree of pleasure to the senses or to the mind and suggests to the object of delight one’s conception of an ideal.” My 2000 Heritage says, “having beauty.” I think Webster wins here, though the Heritage definition of ‘beauty’ closely resembles the 59 Webster definition of ‘beautiful,’, but not with the succinct clarity of Webster.

Lovely: 59 Webster says, “applies to that which delights by inspiring affection or warm admiration.” My 2000 Heritage says, “Having pleasing or attractive qualities; beautiful.” Once again Webster has a more beautiful definition.

I pause here to say that I have the American Heritage Dictionary because-and I forget who-recommended this dictionary for writers. I am having second thoughts.

Moving on to . . .

Pretty: “implies a dainty, delicate or graceful quality in that which pleases and carries connotations of femininity or diminutiveness.” My 2000 heritage says, “Delightfully pretty or dainty.” Webster now up 3-0.

Comely: “applies to persons only and suggests a wholesome attractiveness of form and features rather than a high degree of beauty.” My Heritage says, “Pleasing in appearance; attractive.” I must say here is where Heritage, to be blunt, really sucks. Their definition is generic, non-specific, lacking any ‘definition’ in the definition. It is is blah. 4-0.

Fair: “suggests beauty that is fresh, bright or flawless and, when applied to persons, is used especially of complexion and features.” My Heritage says, “beautiful; lovely.”  Really? That’s it. That’s all you’ve got? Webster’s 5-0.

Yuck to American Heritage. I looked up ‘yuck’ in my Heritage Dictionary. It says, ” Used to express rejection or strong disgust.” Well they got one right.

What I find in the 59 Webster’s is clarity in language, a defined definition. What I find in my 200 Heritage is blandness, unimaginative language, lack of clarity.

I used my Heritage from time to time on my e-novels on Amazon.

But I will be buying a new dictionary today.

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Adam and Eve, the truth of the matter

In the beginning Adam and Eve had the Garden all to themselves and frolicked with squirrels and all the other cute critters. Life was blissful.

Women don’t like to hear this, but I did not write the story; it was written by a male many centuries ago. In fact, according to linguists, Genesis was written by at least seven people, including one woman. Though I doubt she was the author of this part of the story.

The point is that Eve strayed. I don’t know where Adam was, perhaps sleeping, reading the sports page, or playing with squirrels. Maybe Eve was concerned about Adam’s performance issues. We simply don’t know, but she did approach the Tree of Knowledge, inching closer and closer to temptation. Then the serpent appeared and he began to hit on Eve, no doubt using the best pickup lines learned from his eating of the forbidden fruit. It was not an apple, that piece of fruit was added to the story centuries later. I once read an archeologist suggested it was a pomegranate, but that is another story.

Well what woman does not like the bad boy and the serpent was all of that. By the way, it was not a snake. That image, again, came centuries later. There are many types of serpents and there also could be a translation problem. But the point is that Eve did what the serpent suggested and ate of the fruit.

Bad Girl.

And what boy does not like the bad girl.

Now keep in mind Adam was loyal, loving, and honest. Not the bad boy; kind of dull, but a good man. Being a good man and desiring of an equal partnership he did not dominate, but strove for compromise. And he trusted Eve, the love of his life. Of course there were no other women around, so any port in the storm.

Anyway we know how the story ends. Adam was convinced by Eve to eat of the fruit. After they both ate they saw each other in a new light. It was an aha moment. The downside was they were evicted from the Garden. They were now party people and they disturbed the squirrels and other fun critters. So for the sake of the neighborhood, for it to remain a quiet place of peace and solitude, they had to leave.

I mention this because the story of Adam and Eve is the first story, one in which we have two characters; a man and woman. There is suspense. Will she listen to the bad guy? Will she give in to temptation or stay loyal to Adam? Two innocent people, a villain, and the results of being corrupted. And Eve the first femme fatale. Everything you need for a compelling story.

And look at what happened after they left the Garden. Millions of sequels.

My e-books can be found on Amazon

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Why Bookworms Need An Advocacy Group

People who read and study a great deal are called bookworms. If you love books and reading as I do, one should think it a compliment, but it is considered to be derogatory. So try not to belt someone in their sour puss if they call you a BW (bookworm).

Dictinary.com defines bookworms as “insects or maggots; there is no single species known by this name, which is applied to the anolium beetle, silverfishes, and book lice. See book (n.) + worm (n.)” You see what I am talking about. We are considered lice and maggots.

Merriam-Webster dictionary mentions synonyms for bookworms as  nerd, dink, dork, geek, grind, weenie, wonk, and swot (British). It is also mentioned that bookworm was first used around 1580, but it does not cite by whom, not what context, nor if the term was for the lice/maggots/silverfish/ beetle that wormed their way through pages and bindings eating everything up, or if they meant it was used in derision of people who read a lot.

I don’t want to be referred to as a dork, but dink doesn’t sound so bad. The only time I have heard the word is in a Jimmy Durante song called I believe inka-dinka-doo” and that is another matter.

Back to worms, I just finished a novel Chatterton by Peter Ackroyd in which one of the characters, Charles Wychwood, a poet, does in fact eat pages of Dickens’ Great Expectations. Charles had other problems, writing block being one, or perhaps like Bartelby, he preferred not to. But Charles was a bookworm in the truest sense. Bon appetite!

I don’t know who first used the term in derogatory, mean-spirited, insulting, demeaning, bullying way, towards, I am sure, wonderful people, but it goes back a long time. We need not put up with this any longer. It is time to step out of the bookcase and announce to the world we are bookworms and proud of it.

We can have march to the Library of Congress to make the nation aware of us. We can form advocacy groups across the country. We should form support groups to not only discuss the slurs directed at us, but eat pages of books like Charles. Also a yearly Book Worm conference with guest speakers. We can write pamphlets about the joy of reading and create lists of good books to eat.

“When the Day of Judgment dawns and people, great and small, come marching in to receive their heavenly rewards, the Almighty will gaze upon the mere bookworms and say to Peter, “Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.”Virginia Woolf

My e-novels and short stories listed below you can not eat, but reading does bring it’s own reward. In the meantime I have a Heinrich Von Kleist short story to munch on.

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CAN YOU FETCH A FETCHING

This post was posted from a previous incarnation of my writing blog.

Of late, since I seem to have nothing better to do, I became immersed  in the odd relationship between fetch and fetching.

I associate the word ‘fetch’ with dogs. When playing catch with a dog and a stick or ball is thrown the owner yells, “Go fetch!” I have heard this phrase many times, though in truth the dog knows to go fetch; he or she does not have to be told. They love to fetch.

I am also aware that ‘fetch’ can imply what something costs, though this is a somewhat archaic usage. I have not heard, “It fetched a good price” in a long time. So let us stick to ‘fetch’ defined as retrieving, to grab, seize, catch, and so on.

Okay, now we come to the word fetching. It means charming, enchanting, alluring, captivating, and is most used in describing a woman, or at least it once was, as in “She has a fetching appearance.” It was once a way of saying, “Man she’s hot!” And that phrase once meant something else. But anyway, how do we get from a dog fetching to a comely woman? How do we associate a dog with a cute woman? 

I know chauvinistic men would like a woman to fetch them a beer on demand, but that is not me. I can fetch my own thank you.

Was there something sinister behind the similarity of the two words, some wordsmith conspiracy to layer an insult to women, that they were dogs?  I had to uncover the truth.

I went to a well known establishment that provides  haircuts, or styling if you will, to men; the establishment, a national one that has fetching young ladies that cut your hair, a cut that fetch’s a good price mind you. I posed the question to the young woman cutting my hair about fetch and fetching. Leave it to a woman to figure it out.

She cut to the heart of the matter with the quickness of the snip of a scissor. “Fetch means the woman is worth fetching.”

I had to laugh, though I felt like a dog for thinking there was some conspiracy. I must refrain from saying a terrible pun like offering a beautiful diamond ring will fetch the woman.  That would be improper. Because you see, it is the woman tossing the ball or stick and the man, the dog that he is, will fetch it. And that is because the woman is so fetching the man can not resist.

If you would like to fetch on of my e-books, you can grab one here.

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The Dark Side of Being Organized

I recently downloaded an app that I thought would help me be better organized. Instead of writing Post-Its or making notations in a notebook near my keyboard, using scraps of paper, paper towels, or toilet tissue, I could put everything on this very organized app. I am going to tell you how it works, what I did, and how it created a dark side.

The app is called Get it Done and it is very helpful. There is an inbox, a today file, a next, a scheduled and a someday file. There is also a projects list where you can add and edit projects. You can do the same for something called Smart Groups. I have no idea what this is, but it is there. You can also add and edit people (if it were only that easy).

Keep in mind that this app is free, though there are certain functions for which you need to register and pay $39 per year. But for my needs the free features work quite well, thank you.

I have two items in my inbox. One will remain as it is a reminder of something I need to focus on each day, the other concerns upcoming events.  I have five items in my today function, one for today and the others for upcoming days. What I need to do, where to go, appointments; a daily calendar. I have 12 items in my someday file, though that could be in the projects folder as it has do to with my writing plans, projects I am working on and upcoming projects. So I may move it to that location.

Now keep in mind I had to set all this up, deciding what I needed to focus on, how I want it arranged and then typing in all my notes and so on. Upon completion my desk was clear and my life was organized in my cute little app. However, it took so long for me to organize my organizer that I had no time to write the blog I intended to write.

I also went to a book sale the next day and though I only bought nine books, in order to better organize things I had to spend three hours reorganizing my room in order to make my book case and shelves better organized, putting in alphabetical order all my unread books-now over 300 including e-Books-by size, alphabetized in three sections; hardback, trade, and paperback. All tidy, pretty, and organized. The problem of course is that I had no time to write my blog for the second consecutive day.

As you can tell, being organized is time consuming and leaves little time to get done what is on your list. I had to forego the blog I intended to write as I thought I should warn you about the dark side of being organized. It isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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The mysterious disappearance of bloggers

In my previous post I told of how there was a gremlin on my “Loonies in Hollywood” page that show at the top of this site’s header. I am unable to create a space between paragraphs. Every other page I can do that, but this page will not cooperate due to the gremlin residing in there, somewhere.

But there is another gremlin at work as well. Over time I have clicked many blogs to follow. They showed up in my inbox or they were in my e-reader. But I noticed of late that many blogs I received have not been showing up. Yes, I read them. Most of them anyway. And My e-Reader which had dozens of blogs suddenly had only about five.

I have no idea why or how you disappeared. And I miss reading what you had to say. Most of you anyway. I frequently clicked like. And yes I commented when something worthy inspired conversation.

I feel lonely. My digital friends have disappeared. It’s not like I have real ones.

It is true that some tire of blogging, take a break; others are victims of alien abduction (I saw the movie) or who knows what has happened. But I can’t believe so many have quit or been abducted.

Gremlins? Conspiracy? Or some problem with WordPress?

But I do know that I am going to write down on something called paper the blogs that still exist, and add to the new list, on this paper thing, new blogs that I follow and make a log when your last blog was posted and see how long before some of you disappear. I must see if there is a pattern to this madness. It must stop.

I have not abandoned you, I have been cutoff. I will leave no blogger behind.

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Are you, like me, plagued by a digital gremlin

In my previous blog I wrote about trying to create the perfect ‘pitch’ the description writers use to make their book sound appealing and interesting. Now I really don’t know how many visitors to this site look at the top header and see the ‘who I am’ dropdown, or the titles of my books, but  the page of each book has a description, my pitch to see if anyone is interested in reading the story. However one of them is wrong.

I don’t mean wrong as in a lie, or a mistake. It just does not look right. If you click on any book and scan the page-or better yet, read it-you will see a space between paragraphs, nice and clean. Not so with “Loonies in Hollywood.” I have tried everything I could think of, but for some reason, it (whatever gremlin ‘it’ is) will not allow me to have separation between the first three paragraphs.

I try to have a professional looking site, but sometimes the digital world sets out to sabotage you and succeeds. I have tried deleting and rewriting. Nope. I have tried writing in Word and doing a copy and paste. Nope.

So I apologize if that page does not look correct, not neat and clean.

If anyone has any ideas I am open to trying to fix it. I dislike going to forums and searching to see if someone had a similar problem. It takes a lot of time going through threads that may or may not apply and I rarely have found a solution in the past. It can be frustrating at times, like trying to find a vampire with a suntan.

When you are trying to build an international empire where you sell 1,000,000 books a day-an hour would be better- every little gremlin can destroy your hopes, dreams, aspirations and so forth. If I find him I will stomp out it’s digital life. I hope the little bugger reads this.

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Three bobbling writers heads to inspire

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Bobbleheads are popular in baseball. Every team has a bobblehead giveaway of their popular players every season. On my computer desk I have Seattle Mariners Felix Hernandez, Jaimie Moyer, and Lou Piniella. I also have  Desmond Mason from the NBA’s Seattle Supersonics. Also a former TV broadcasting duo from the Milwaukee Brewers Daron and Bill. Little did I know there are also Bobbleheads of writers.

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I searched on Amazon for the fun of it and found Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens. I also found a Poe (above) on the Poe Museum website in Richmond, Virginia. What a great way for us writers to find inspiration than sitting down at the computer, looking at the shelf above your head and beginning the day by asking the Big Three if they like your writing, then tipping the heads’ of Poe, Twain, and Dickens, seeing their bobbing heads, imaging they are urging you on “Yes! Yes! please write more.” Nothing beats inspiration from those three writing icons.

In truth I was searching for Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, but alas a Google search found none. If you know if there is one please provide a link. I can see a Bobblehead of Mary with the Frankenstein monster behind her. Bobble on! I will settle for an action figure of course.

It turns out there are Bobbleheads of most anyone, from Gandhi and Pope Francis to Fidel Castro and John Wilkes Booth. There are philosophers, Socrates and Aristotle, and for scientific nerds, Nikola Tesla and Albert Einstein. I am chagrined there is a Bobblehead for Booth, but not for Mary Shelley.

But back to the writers. It turns out that there are different versions of some writers, different bobbling, so you can choose a more fitting representation to suit your taste. Until I find my Mary, I will start with Poe, then go for Charles and Mark.

frankensteinbobbleheadLook who just bobbled in. Hey, where’s Mary ?