Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Meme

Yes, I'm late on this. It charmed me, and I'm doing it anyway. So there. ;-)

The original argument:
Here's what you're supposed to do, and try not to be a SCROOGE!!! Just copy this entire note and paste as a new note on your Facebook page blog. Change all the answers so that they apply to you. Then tag this note to a bunch of people you know, INCLUDING the person that sent it to you...'Tis the Season to be NICE! OK, if you're reading this, feel free to cut and paste for your own blog.

My answers:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

I *love* wrapping. Probably my favorite part of the season!

2. Real tree or Artificial?

A real tree (regardless of size) is under $20 here. I'm digging that real pine smell, baby!

3. When do you put up the tree?

December, prefer before mid-month...

4. When do you take the tree down?

January 6th-- Three Kings or Twelfth Night, as you prefer

5. Do you like eggnog?

It is a very fond memory, though I wonder how all that heavy cream would go over in the middle of summer...

6. Favorite gift received as a child?

I think I was eight or nine when my parents gave me a wee plaque that read "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it because he dances to a different drummer. Let him march to the music he hears, however measured or far away." It was the closest my parents ever got to acknowledging the freak flag I fly, and that plaque still hangs on the wall in my home.

7. Hardest person to buy for?

I do pretty good, I think. Mostly. Except when I don't. What am I talking about-- who doesn't like pine tree deodorizers and wiper blade refills?!

8. Easiest person to buy for?

My parents: they get a phone call.

9. Do you have a nativity scene?


10. Mail or email Christmas cards?

Not this year. Christmas kinda snuck up on me and everything was last minute...

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?

Such a long line of parental 'Why can't you just be normal' gifts to choose from...

12. Favorite Christmas Movies?

Freaking "A Christmas Story"!!!!

Like Highlander, there can be only one!!!!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?

Wiper blades and Pine Tree Deodorizers give you any idea?

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

See previous answer.

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?

Lift the other end of the dinner table. I'll unhinge my lower jaw and you just let the food slide on in there!

16. Color of Lights on the tree?

Lots of colors. Pretty Colors. The more I drink, the pretty they get...

17. Favorite Christmas song? Dublin BLues, by Guy Clarke and Townes Van Zandt

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home?

Where's the option for Wrestle the Cops on the Front Lawn?

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer?

(Stares into space) "On Dasher, on Dancer, on Prancer and Vixen, on Comet on Cupid on Donder and Blitzen!" And of course, that alcoholic corporate whore, Rudolph.

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?


21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?

Christmas morning. Santa takes his time reaching the Antipodes.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year?

Every year, some knucklehead wants a 20-30 hour tattoo in time for Christmas dinner. They usually wander in with incoherent ravings and cocktail-napkin scrawls sometime around the 23rd...

23. Favorite ornament, theme, or color?

I'd like to hear more about those X-rated ornaments Charles mentioned earlier.

24. Favorite for Christmas Eve Dinner?

Does bourbon and Vicodin count??

25. What do you want for Christmas this year?

To finally beat elderly Grandma Dynamo's record for the annual Christmas Day Police Wrassle. It's no use, though: she's wrinkly and stretchy, she's old and naked, and she refuses to share her recipe for body grease!

26. What is your wish for Christmas?

Refer to previous question.

That was fun! Now... who's got a hatchet?! :)

Thursday, December 24, 2009


Apparently, it's no longer Halloween...

I realize I've been distracted lately. I started a new business. Raised my art to a whole new level. I'm having one hell of a time writing this novel. So maybe it's no wonder I'm not always entirely... present.

For instance, I forgot to renew my car registration. And I paid my last power bill late. Not for lack of money, just forgot.

Also, I failed to notice the wagons. Their colors were certainly bright enough, but I had that witchy pinup to do. At night, I was so tired I slept right through the violins, the dancing, and the strange, sad chanting of the Clans Dynamo.

Working my way through a thorny bit of dialogue, I wandered right past the Uncles Dynamo, Sergei and Volstov. Didn't even occur to me to wonder why they were throwing a goat.

Other people were running around buying presents. Carols were piped in on sound systems everywhere. I didn't notice, any more than I noticed the fire department's recent agitation or the night Mad Uncle Ludwig drew the lightning down to Castle Dynamo.

But now Great Aunt Agatha Dynamo is here. And there is no ignoring Great Aunt Agatha. If nothing else, the erratic beeping of her court-ordered ankle bracelet (a memento of the last Gathering of the Clan Dynamo) makes it difficult. As does the juggling. And that horrible thing she does with the horseshoe.

But the knives are the worst. She has dozens of them hidden in the folds of her dress, and she's a dead shot.

She keeps thumbing the edge of her favourite blade and chuckling softly to herself.

That's when it hit me: Christmas. Of course.

So now I'm off to bed to listen for the sound of reindeer hooves. It's that or stay awake and listen for the sounds of Aunt Agatha padding barefoot down the hall.

I hope the Clan like their gifts this year: I see myself giving wiper blade refills and pine tree deodorizers...

Oh dear.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Combining Characters

So the new reboot is going well. Thorny and tangled at times, but that's writing, innit?

I'm a big believer in the saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear." Mostly, I think the teachers are all around us, waiting for us to notice, but that's another story.

This time, the teacher was Donald Maas's book Writing the Breakout Novel. Three bits of advice gave me so much to think about that I'll probably be years digesting them. One sentence in particular struck me with the queasy truth of the sound of an elevator cable snapping:

Anywhere you can combine characters, you should.

Basically, the idea is that too many characters in fiction are flat and cardboard. One way to achieve depth and complexity is to have one character fill two or more roles. For example, I've read a lot of thrillers/detective stories where the hero has a Mentor, a Love Interest and a Bete Noir-- usually three different people who walk on and speak their parts and then are heard no more. Only Silence of the Lambs combined all three to create Hannibal Lector.

Or look at Pride and Prejudice-- where Love Interest Darcy is also an Antagonist when he comes down hard on Jane's romance with Bingley. For that matter, he also appears as a Powerful Ally/Deus Ex Machina when that little git (I forget her name) runs off with that asshole Wickham.

I could probably think of more, but as is so often the case these days, the Hour of the Needles (i.e. time to go to work) closes in.

In my own case, I had a Good Girl/Sidekick (poor Lila, who featured in my previous post) and a Bad Girl/Femme Fatale. Classic dichotomy, and boring as hell. The moment I started thinking, 'What if the Bad Girl was also the Sidekick?' things got... INTERESTING.

I have to admit, I started the rewrite with no idea how I was going to pull it off, only the conviction that this was the right way to go. This week, things started to click: The Bad Girl really is a rotten human being, but she really does like our hero. She's using him, but she's also in love with him. And in a way, he's using her too. A bond is forming between the two, and both of them realize they may just have to turn on the other. The relationships have gone from being all crisp and clear to being messy, heartbreaking and human.

I'm having fun again...