Thursday, May 30, 2013

More Books, More Laughter

So Cx2 the Artist from My Mind Full of Dreams did a follow-up post based on my last post (the one about books and laughter) that I thought you all might be interested in. She took the concept further than me and the new point of view is really insightful. Here's a link:

http://www.mymindfullofdreams.blogspot.com/2013/05/books-and-laughter-inspired-by-nerve-of.html

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Books and Laughter. Not sure what they have in Common, but that's what's in this post.

I love books. I love everything about them.
I love the idea of a book. Words strung together to form sentences, which pitch in to form paragraphs, melting into pages, all to somehow form a story that evokes sorrow, anger, joy, happiness--so many emotions--in a person.
I love the way books look. The way all the words are lined neatly up, like a row of ants, across the page. And the way the pages are all bound together to fit in your hands.
I love the way books smell. I've gotten some weird looks for taking a quick (or not-so-quick) sniff as I fan the pages. We have one book on our shelves that is particularly special: Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It possesses a smell I could never define. I love to smell the pages and remember. I remember reading through the bountiful descriptions of food in Farmer Boy, curled up behind the rocking chair, listening to Mom cooking in the kitchen and being childishly comfortable and content.
I love the way books taste...wait...did I say that out loud? haha. I've not actually eaten a book. But I've been tempted to. ;)


And, lastly but most definitely not leastly, the #1 happiest word is LAUGHTER.

What does the word "Laughter" make you think of? Does it come with memories, feelings, ideas?
Comment and share your insight with me!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Happiness in the English Language

I was doing homework (gasp!) and stumbled upon (more like tripped over) an interesting article called "25 of the Happiest Words in English" by Mental Floss. It fascinated me, and I thought I'd share the list:


Easier
Interesting
Honest
Forests
Saturday
Dinner
Comfortable
Gently
Fresh
Pal
Warmth
Rest
Welcome
Dearest
Useful
Cherry
Safe
Better
Piano
Silk
Relief
Rhyme
Hi 
Agree
Water

Now here's the challenge: comment and tell me what you think is considered the #1 happiest word in the English language. I'll let you know in the next post. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

New Story


Most people labor under the assumption that being a secret agent is glamorous. Ha.  They also think we spy on creepers from beneath tinted glasses through the New York Times with eyeholes cut through “local boy rescues small, innocent child”. Well. They’re wrong. You’d never catch Jason Gould in tinted glasses (I prefer shades), and this was most definitely not “New York Times”. It was the Clintonberg Gazette. The hole thing is pretty accurate though.
Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out, I can explain my mission. Truth be told, if I was the type of person who got humiliated by missions, I would be humiliated by this mission. But I’m not the type of person who gets humiliated. So I’m not. Humiliated, that is. My mission is to track the ins, outs, and whereabouts (as well as any other “abouts” involved) of a certain young lady by the name of Raven Black. Creepy name set aside (what kind of sick parents would do that to their kid? It’s almost as bad as Snow White) she’s a pretty harmless young lady. Goes to your typical high school. Gets straight A’s. With the occasional F in art class. At the moment I’m not quite sure why I’ve been assigned this case. Might have something to do with the stale donuts I served Agent Cunningham.  He’s particular about his donuts. They (by “they” I mean the upper-agents, big-guns, headquarters, whatever you want to call the  command-center) claim she’s important to the Program and it’s my job to keep track of her and make sure she didn’t do nothin’ fishy (besides the normal fishy activities of young woman such as sorting their clothes by color and alphabetizing their nail polish. There’s something very wrong about that). At the moment, my subject was strolling luxuriously along on her way back home, blissfully unaware of the highly-trained, specialized (as well as buff and attractive) agent pursuing stealthily in her trail. 
copyright Alison Schneider


That's the first part of the first page of the first chapter of the first sci-fi novel I've ever begun. This story reminded me why write. I spent several blissful hours, in which time meant nothing and moved more quickly than my fingers on the keyboard, creating the story. There is something amazing about working through those tough details, getting stuck with a conflict that puts you on pause for a second and then having a breakthrough idea that feels like watching TV in fast-forward. Thoughts bounce around in my head like (excuse the cliche) popcorn. My characters are my friends--not bothersome nuisances. I look forward to going to bed at night to plan out the details of the plot in my head (It's the time I can relax and know nothing is going to interrupt me. With five kids in the family, that's invaluable.)
So here's where you come in: comment and tell me what you think my character's (the one telling the story) personality is. Just give me a string of adjectives if you want. It would be super helpful for me to know if I was portraying him the way I'd like. So let me know!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Clock

So sometimes I like to play this writing game. It has only a few rules. You come up with a word--anything works--and, then you have several minutes to impromptu write. The first thing that comes to your mind. I scribble frantically for a few minutes, throw down my pen, and dare myself to read. Sometimes I like it. Most times I find so many things I could have done better I want to restart. Either way, it is wonderful practice and  I really enjoy it. So I'm going to be brave and share one with you. The prompt was clock. I wrote for under five minutes for this one. And I didn't change anything: this is the epitome of a rough draft. :) Here it is:

The clock mocks our silence. As the time of quiet between us stretched, its tick, tick turns into a snicker. The clock back home is kinder than this. It doesn't chide the way we never seem to be able to hold a conversation. Or maybe it's because it never used to happen. Back at home, it enhanced the silence. Added to the richness of the quiet. Back when its tick tock had company until midnight, one, sometimes even two. Back when we'd stay up and talk all night. Back when the quiet between us was so full it was almost as nice as the conversation. Back when time was our friend. Back when we were friends. 

So now it's your turn. Take "clock" and write for under five minutes about the first thing that comes to mind. Then send it to me via comment, and, if you want, I'll post them on my blog. I'd love to see what you come up with!


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Long Post that I NEED You to Read!

Ok, guys, so I need your help.
I'm taking a break from school this week (a belated spring break) and I want to do some for-fun writing. Problem is, I know what I want to write about, but I don't know exactly what I'm going for. I want it to be based on this blurb:


Most people labor under the assumption that being a secret agent is glamorous. Ha.  They also think we spy on creepers from beneath tinted glasses through the New York Times with eyeholes cut through “local boy rescues small, innocent child”. Well. They’re wrong. I don’t wear tinted glasses (I prefer shades), and this was most definitely not New York Times. It was the Clintonberg Gazette. The hole thing is pretty accurate though.
Now that we’ve gotten that straightened out, I can explain my mission. Truth be told, if I was the type of person who got humiliated, I would be humiliated. But I’m not the type of person who gets humiliated. So I’m not. Humiliated, that is. My mission is to track the ins, outs, and whereabouts (as well as any other “abouts” involved) of a certain teen by the name of Raven Black. Creepy name set aside (what kind of sick parents would do that to their kid? It’s almost as bad as Snow White) she’s a pretty harmless young lady. Goes to your typical high school. Gets straight A’s. With the occasional F in art class. At the moment I’m not quite sure why I’ve been assigned this case. Might have something to do with the stale donuts I served Agent Cunningham.  He’s particular about his donuts. They (by “they” I mean the headquarters, big-guns, command-center, whatever you want to call the “upper-agents”) claim she’s important to the Program and it’s my job to protect her. So protect her I would.
At the moment, my subject was strolling luxuriously along on her way back home, blissfully unaware of the highly-trained, specialized (as well as buff and attractive) agent pursuing stealthily in her trail.
Stealth is second-nature for me. When I was knee high to my little brother’s ego (which isn’t saying much), I climbed out of my crib and broke into the cupboards, ate every sugary item to be found, and crawled back into my crib before dear old Mom knew I’d woken up from my nap. Too bad cookies have a nasty habit of staying on your face.
Currently, my subject was turning the corner onto Kellog drive. Focusing on a particularly red stop sign, I followed a safe distance behind. Never look directly at the subject. That’s the number one rule in spying. If the subject catches your eye, it’s all over. Just one little glance could…
Wait.
What was she doing?
The subject appeared to be…picking a lock?
And…I looked.
Like a kid is attracted to Oreos, her eyes met mine.  That sounded romantic. Trust me, it wasn’t.
The game was up. But I couldn’t have her fleeing in terror and blabbing about the creeper guy with the stunningly blue eyes and shockingly attractive figure who was following her. I figured it was time to take her down. Gently, of course. Poor girl. Probably still felt bad about not being able to do a pull-up in the physical fitness test. Yeah. I know about those. I’ll talk to you about that later.
I strode toward her, trying not to look too daunting. “Excuse me. I’m going to have to ask you to--”
That’s when I noticed the weapon. I wasn’t quite sure what it was. Which is saying something considering my extensive training in weaponry.
“I suggest you stop.”
I didn’t stop. Always remember, the subject isn’t in command. You are. “Well, you see, I--”
“I said, stop.”
I stopped. You see, I lied. The subject isn’t in command unless she knows how to use the sword-stick thing she’s carrying. And knows kung-fu. Too late, I realized I’d forgotten to look into her gym grades. Later, I remembered the extra-curriculars. Like martial arts. Kung-fu. Defense. Gun safety. You know—the usual courses teenage girls take for fun. Anyway. I blocked the first swipe. With my stomach. The second one I allowed to pass me. I figured I might need my nose later in life. Particularly when the need involved bacon on Saturday mornings. Ducking a third blow, I jumped forward, grabbing her wrist, and, with a swift twist, requiring her to release the weapon. Lunging in, she bent her elbow down, twisting my arm and forcing me to release. She turned tail.
I was at a disadvantage, you see. I couldn’t hurt the subject. She had no such qualms. But I couldn’t let her escape either.  I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to do this. But this was what it had come down to. I pulled my taser.
That’s when the gun shot. Not “gun-shot”. That would be improper grammar. I mean literally—a gun shot. As it happens, the shot was very close to my head. I don’t like being shot at. It tends to get on my nerves. Generally, however, I can handle it; it’s not like I’m not used to it. But when the bullets start moving toward my subject…that’s a little too far.
I lunged for her, planning on rolling and ending up safely behind the car parked alongside the curb. But she jerked away. Another shot shattered the rear view mirror (which, unfortunately, would never again provide a view of the rear) too close to my own rear for comfort. I dropped, rolling beneath the car and army-crawling to the other side. By now I had my pistol drawn. On the other side, I scanned the area for my patient. Dang. I’d lost her. A bullet flew past my nose and I rolled backward. And quickly found my subject. More specifically, her hair. Connected to her head, of course. It’s just the first thing I came into contact with before the collision. She jerked away, then leaned out, took aim, and fired at the building some yards away sniper-style. Flattening herself against the car as whoever it was fired in response, she glared at me. “What are you doing?”
I took a shot of my own, aiming for the buttons on the black jacket the man behind the abandoned house wore. “Protecting you.”
The window directly above us shattered, spraying glass over both of us.
Lowering her arm from where it shielded her eyes and face, she glared at me again. “Great job.”
She took another shot before panting, “So do you work for the government?”
I eyed her. How could she know that code? She wasn’t supposed to know…unless… “Government?” I panted, “Heck no.” Out of the corner of my eye, I watched her. “You?”
“I’m self-employed.”
So she was... I was right.
“We’re on the same side.” The way she said it you’d think it was a bad thing.
A shot hit the tire beside her and she rolled back, ending up on her back beside me.
“You’re getting friendly quick.”
Rolling her eyes, she scrambled upright. “You go right. I go left. Head for the wall. I’m out of bullets.”
“Wait, you can’t just--”
Apparently she could.
“Go.”
I didn’t have time to think it through. Just to act. Rolling out, I dashed toward the decorative retaining wall, firing as I ran. Nifty things, those retaining walls. Not only are they splendid for holding planters and daffodils, they also provide wonderful shields.
We both made it to the wall alive. By this time she’d dropped the gun and had some kind of laser thing out. “So you’re new at this.”
There was no question mark at the end of that sentence, which sort of bothered me. That sort of sentence should always have a question at the end. Panting, I eyed her. “Why do you say that?”
She rolled her eyes again. It seemed to be a favorite expression of hers. “I’m schooled in noticing the obvious.”
Funny. She didn’t comment on my abs. Must be selective. 

Now here's where you come in: comment and give me ANY and ALL suggestions you have for how this plot could go. I repeat: ANYTHING HELPS! I have two days to come up with a plot before my school-sabbatical starts. 
Thanks!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tonight


So I love nature. I love being in nature. I love writing about nature. Sometimes it's hard because, the more I care about something, the more I ache to write it. And the more I feel the need to accurately depict what I love. So here's another blurb I wrote from a character's point of view: 

The night was deceptively warm, despite the snow coating the ground like a heavy layer of cream cheese frosting spread thinly and unevenly over a brownish, grayish, mucky, sloppy, disgusting birthday cake. Warm to a Minnesotan, that is. Although maybe it’s blaspheme to call any temperature that allows snow in April “warm.” Either way, breathing in the air was good. So good. I decided it wasn’t worth wearing shoes just to make the short trip across the yard to the warming house. The snow barely covered the ground and was sloppier than my baby brother at mealtime. Hoisting my duffle bag over one shoulder to support the massive weight inside and tucking the blanket under my arm, I set off. I’d planned on curling up inside the shack, but I didn’t feel like going in. It was such a…night. The epitome of night. Wrapping Dad’s hunting jacket, which could easily have accommodated a few more me’s inside, and encasing the rest of me in the quilt, I leaned back to enjoy all that “night.” There was time for that stack of books—as wonderful as they might be—later. For now…
Closing my eyes, I breathed in deep. Spring air is healing to the soul. And it clears your head better than Mamma cleans the dining room. Far away in that woodsy place I called Somewhere, a nigh-bird cooed. Many dawns and dusks have taught me to know and love the difference between morning-bird song and night-bird sounds. Morning song is lively, bright, and cheerful. At night, their songs are soft---like a mother’s gentle coo—restful and a little melancholy. God sure knew what He was doing when He planned all that out. And behind all that, so regular I hadn’t noticed it until now, water dripped. It was like the highest note on the piano played to nature’s rhythm. A breeze that had lost its way to its journey to Somewhere toyed with my hair as it passed. Greedily, I breathed it in. It smelled like freshness and green and spring. And the moon watched over it all. It cast liquid silver onto the earth, filtering through the branches and casting ghostly shadows on the snow. Yet I wasn’t afraid.
“AVRIL MARIE GOULD!” My sister’s voice cut into my reverie. “You have to come in!” I wasn’t especially fond of making my whereabouts known. There was something about these solitary nights that had to be secret. “The movie’s started!”  Who cared about movies? Leaving all this for a movie was like the time I’d traded my salamander for a goldfish. Stupid.
“Go ahead!” I yelled back. I heard the house door slam shut and sighed in contentment. Alone. On this wonderful night. Free to ponder and wonder and marvel.
Just for tonight.