Monday, August 28, 2006

In Ex Cess ...

It is helpful, at times, to push at the envelope, live on the edge, and [insert cliche here]. It is helpful to go to extremes. For example, writing a 50,000 word novel in a month is extreme. Trying to write 30,000 words in a week, is excessive.

But sometimes you just got to say, what the hell. It helps if your misery has company, as I will with fellow writer and daredevil Cheryl Mills.

I got to thinking about excess. 'Ex' is derived from 'eghs', meaning 'out of' or 'away from'. Out of one's mind maybe? Or out of one's comfort zone? Away from sanity? Or away from stale, plodding routines? I'll the the latter of the two.

I should have stopped there, as I then learned that 'cess' is the Irish word for luck.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Bass Ackwards ...

Working backwards has been helpful lately. I have an unfinished SF novel. It was written without any outline, planning, character sketches, etc. I recently completed all that background info and now think I have a chance of getting it up to 80-90k words.

Also editing a short story. Editing is torture for me. This time I started with the last page and went through the story in reverse. That way I wouldn't stop after 5-6 pages in the beginning, which I've seen so many times I could probably rewrite them from memory. This reverse editing worked well.

Now if I could only put the clock in reverse ...

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Better Read Than ...

The local library has a summer reading program for adults as well as children. Adults get to choose their own reading goals and receive a coupon for a free ice cream upon completion. It was delicious. Okay, I shared it with my daughter. All right, she ate most of it.

My goal was to read five books by five authors I'd never read before. For an added level of difficulty, each book was from a different genre. Here is the list:

Ten Little New Yorkers by Kinky Friedman
One of his most recent books (there's a trend here) and not one of his best I'd think. Not much of a mystery who done it, very profane and semi-hallucinogenic.

The Unhandsome Prince by John Moore
Light fantasy with alternative fairy tale endings (you'll find out the real story about Rapunzel!) Overall a fun read.

Rimrunners by C.J. Cherryh
I cheated a little on this one. Years and years ago I opened up a book by Cherryh, read two paragraphs, and never opened the book again. This book is science fiction that starts out well, very interesting concept, but halfway through I was wishing she would just get on with it. Here again, I didn't choose one of her more well known works and probably should have, except I had already read a fantasy book for this reading list.

Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
Best one out of the lot. Non-fiction, mostly autobiography. Could be sub-titled 'Down And Out In New York's Kitchens'. The author is a sex-drugs-rock-and-roll cook who happily tells how badly he screwed up before emerging on the other side a decent, battle scarred chef. However, after reading this, one may think twice (or several dozen times over) before eating in a restaurant again.

The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton by Jane Smiley
Again, I should have gone with a more familiar title ('A Thousand Acres' or 'Moo') by this author. The story intrigued me (set in pre-civil war Kansas Territory) as it tied in with some info on election fraud I had read recently. It dragged quite a bit, but I got through it.

Next time I'm going for the best seller list.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Three Things About RI ...

The opportunity came up last weekend to tour around Rhode Island. Various locations are the settings for my planned novel. It was great to actually see these places rather than rely on images from the internet or invent them from whole cloth. Plus a digital camera was very helpful to make sure I didn't miss any details. A few fun facts:

1. In Rhode Island, an ice cream shake (or frappe as we say in Massachusetts) is called a cabinet.

2. In Providence, largest city and capital, there is a section of town called 'Federal Hill' which is their 'Little Italy'. The arch at the entrance to this area has a hanging pine cone or 'la pigna', an Italian symbol for generosity. It is not, as many suspect, a pineapple.

3. Every 50 feet there is a Dunkin Donuts coffee place. The drive-thru for each has a line of cars about five miles long.