Friday, June 11, 2010

One Year!

It is so hard to believe that one year ago today I posted my first blog. I’ve been a bad blogger lately, I know, but I’m going to try harder to be better in the coming months.

And now, to commemorate this wonderful event, a quote from Neil Gaiman.

“May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful, and don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. I hope you will have a wonderful year, that you’ll dream dangerously and outrageously, that you’ll make something that didn’t exist before you made it, that you will be loved and that you will be liked, and that you will have people to love and to like in return. And, most importantly (because I think there should be more kindness and more wisdom in the world right now), that you will, when you need to be, be wise, and that you will always be kind. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself.”

Thanks for your support and I look forward to another great year

Monday, May 10, 2010

The Nook

Two weeks ago I finally made a decision on which reader I wanted and I purchased a Barnes & Noble Nook. I had been on the fence for a while about the whole e-reader thing until I saw someone using a Kindle on an airplane last year and it piqued my curiosity. I’m a fan of the paper book and I think I will continue to be, but there is something seductive about the slim volume that is the e-reader and really think that it will have some great applications for graduate school.

I will admit that I was a little hesitant to buy a Nook. I’d read about some problems online and I didn’t want to make such a big purchase that I’d soon regret. But I finally decided that if I didn’t but something that I would probably just regret the whole thing. When it comes down to it all of them are going to have some kind of problems, so I should just pick one. So I picked.

Thus far I’ve had very few problems with my Nook. It’s force-closed a time or two, but it runs on Android, and it’s to be expected. Some people reported that it was a little hard to get used to the way it opens books, but I haven’t had much trouble. The thing I’ve had the hardest time getting used to is the fact that the top is not touch screen, and that’s more about me than the device.

One thing that I like the best is that you can read whatever you please without anyone knowing. You can read anything from Jane Austen to Lauren Willig from Aristotle to Stephanie Meyer without tipping anyone else off.

It’s great.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Have the Hero Save the Day

One thing that writers, specifically suspense writers, are told is that when the conflict is resolved the resolution needs to come from the main characters. If your hero is saving your heroine from a killer who’s following her, he needs to be involved when the take-down occurs, even if he’s not the one who physically does the taking down himself.

A while back I wrote about the video game “My Sims Agent” and showing not telling. Here’s another great lesson to be learned from My Sims Agent.

At the end of the game, you’ve solved the little mystery. You’ve saved the day, but unfortunately one member of your team has been pulled, along with the bad guy into another dimension (I know it’s kinda cheesy, but that’s okay). And now you have to finish those annoying little side games before you’re given you’re final mission (the secret one that you can only find by finishing everything) where you’ll be able to save your teammate. But you don’t get to go on the mission. You pick people to go. You sit there waiting while they do their thing, just waiting for the call to come that you’re needed, that you need to go save the day.

And that all never comes.

After a while of waiting you get a call saying that they’ve saved the team member. That the bad guy got away.

And that’s it.

No more.

It’s so anticlimactic. You feel cheated out of your chance to save the day.

I would imagine that that’s how the reader feels when the hero is sitting around drinking coffee, flirting with the heroine when he gets a phone call saying that the police picked up the would-be killer on a dead tail-light and the danger is gone.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Hey Kid - Short Story

**NPR hosts a competition called “Three-Minute Fiction.” The goal is to write a short story about the prompt that can be read in 3 minutes (under 600 words).

About a month ago the prompt was this image:

This is the story I wrote (it didn't get picked, but that's okay).**

Hey kid.

Yeah, you. With the ear-things in your ears clacking away on your computer.

Hand me that newspaper will ya’?


You know what I like best about the newspaper? Everything in it’s yesterday’s news. None of this late breaking news crap. Everything in here’s done broke already. There’s nothing in there that hasn’t been checked and rechecked up the wazoo.

Whatsat? Dewey defeats Truman? Everybody makes mistakes. But that’s my point, had they waited a day ‘til it was old news, they woulda got it right. That’s the problem with this computer-web-net thing. Everyone wants their news right now and nobody cares if it’s right or not. I’d rather have real news later than maybe-real news now.

World events? Why should I care that some yahoo has blown himself up in Wherezitstan? I don’t live there. I don’t know anyone who lives there. I don’t own property there. What does it have to do with me? Is it going to affect crops in the US? Will it affect the cost of my coffee?

Speaking of coffee, where’s the waitress? Whatsat? I have to go up to the counter to get my coffee? I paid four-fifty for a cup of coffee and they won’t even bring it to me? How do I know when my coffee’s ready? I don’t remember what I ordered. Since they don’t have just black coffee here I told the guy in the green apron “I’ll have what he’s having.” It’ll probably taste like watery milk. All these frou-frou drinks taste like that. Whatsat? You can get black coffee here? Does it cost four-fifty? No? It’s a racket, I’m tellin’ ya.

I could have had free coffee at the hospital. But as crappy as this coffee is, that coffee’s worse. And it’s cold. Even free coffee should at least have the decency to be hot.

Why was I at the hospital? My wife’s a patient. She’s got cancer and our doctor back home didn’t know what more to do for her, so he sent her here. They’re doing tests. Always more tests. She says it’s like being in school again, only with needles.

We’ve been married forty-eight years, y’know. We were just out of high school. Thought we knew everything. That’s a laugh. Her daddy made us wait until we were done with school and I had a job. It wasn’t much of a job but it paid the bills. I started out as a farmhand. A cowboy you could probably say, but it didn’t have much to do with cows. I mucked stalls and sat on the tractor. We did well enough that my wife stayed home when our kids were little. Heck, By the time I retired I practically ran the place.

We have three kids. Two boys and a girl. She’s still my baby girl, even though she’s in her thirties. Our little miracle born eight years after her last brother. We’d given up havin’ a girl. She keeps tryin’ to plan a fiftieth anniversary party for my wife and me. Her oldest brother tells her not to bother; mama won’t be around that long. He’s such a bully, always was.

Oh, that’s my cell phone. About the only good thing that’s come from technology. Not that I want just everyone to be able to reach me at a moment’s notice, but it’s been useful since she’s been sick. She can get me whenever she needs me.

The latest test results are in.

If you find my coffee you can have it.

Whatsat? Sports page? Sure. They’re last week’s scores anyway.