Thursday, October 29, 2015

#ThrowbackThursday: Goosey Gourds and Naughty Poetry

Thursday again? Already??

Huh. Funny how that happens on such a regular basis. One might almost say weekly. 

Anyhoo, how about another Throwback Thursday post? Here's one from October 2011 that particularly amused me (three guesses why): 

And the wiener is...!

You know, some women have to settle for getting flowers from their significant others, and then only on special occasions. But not me. Nope, my TG knows the best way to worm his way into my heart is via my funny bone, so he brought home this for me instead...

...just because he knew it would make me laugh. Plus, gourds are seasonal. Who doesn't need a good seasonal laugh? (I'm thinking of putting a knee-high stocking on it, and seeing if I can make visitors blush. Then again, my in-laws might come over unexpectedly, so maybe not.)

TG's gift inspired a visit from my muse's evil, limerick-spinning twin, who planted this in my brain:

There once was a gander, so fine,
Who saw a watermelon stuck to a vine.
It was lust at first sight--
So he goosed it all night--
And the result is apparently mine.

Okay, okay...enough about my peni--er, goose gourd. On to what you're really waiting for!

Thank you all so much for cracking me up with your entries to the Angry Camel Caption Contest! They really got me giggling. So much so that I had to ask TG to help me decide the, I mean, winner.

We both zeroed in immediately (and, knowing us, unsurprisingly) on...

*drum roll*

"I don't care WHO Catherine the Great is! I'm not in the mood!"

Dianne, if you'll email me your address [linda(dot)grimes(at)gmail(dot)com], I'll send you your prize, which is not only dumb and edible, but also in keeping with the October Halloween season.

Why, YES! That is a glow-in-dark Jack-o-lantern Pez dispenser (complete with Pez candy) and a package of ghost Peeps!*

Dianne, you lucky so-and-so, do realize how jealous all those other entrants are now? I know! It's tough to envision the extent of their envy.

Oh, and since conventional blogging wisdom dictates one should always end a post with a question or two for the readers:

How do you like my gourd? Do you have a gourd, too?

Bonus third question: Is your gourd bigger than my gourd?

*Dying plant included in pic only for atmosphere, and not part of the Pez/Peeps Prize Package.

[Back to the present]

Sadly, my gourd has long since withered. I'll have to look for another one, because I really miss it. Seriously, it was quite the conversation starter, and such a poetic inspiration! 

May the Halloween Fairy bring you all lots of candy! Or gourds. Gourds are fun, too. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Cover News! (With bonus inappropriateness.)

Hey, y'all! All Fixed Up has a cover. Yay!

I likes it, I does! 

Here's a closeup of the picture:

Aren't those sparkly stars great? They not only allude to the magical quality of Ciel's aura-adapting ability, but also to the NASA theme of this particular book.

CAUTION: If you are under the impression that I am a sweet and decorous lady (though, if you've been reading my blog--or my books--for any length of time, I don't see how you could be), you might want to stop reading this post now. Nice cover, blah-blah-blah, so forth and etc. See ya on the shelves!

But if you happen to appreciate the occasional descent into juvenile humor, please proceed.

Now on to the *ahem* bonus inappropriateness. 

Really, I probably shouldn't be telling you this, but according to one of my (admittedly notorious for her inappropriateness) critique partners, Tawna Fenske, it's too good not to share. 

And, after all, it is a peek behind the scenes of the publishing process, so I suppose we could call it educational. Yeah, let's do that.

Just don't tell anyone I showed you, okay? Shhh...

See, when my editor first sent me the cover picture it was fresh out of the Art department, and a certain *cough* wrinkle hadn't been, um, ironed out yet. 

Which made for a very happy picture indeed. 

Now, most people probably wouldn't even notice this, um, anomaly, but it popped right out at me. (What? Attention to detail is an important quality in a writer.)

Oops. Do you see it? No? If you're reading this on a small screen, you might have to blow it up. Er, so to speak. 

Yes, I admit it. My first thought when I saw it was, "Oh, my God! Is that a rocket in Mark's pocket, or is he just really happy to see Ciel?" 

(Imagine me giggling. Because I was.) 

And then I noticed that Mark isn't really looking at Ciel. He's giving Billy the stink eye. 

(Now imagine me giggling hysterically. Because I was.)

I gave brief thought to not mentioning it to my editor, because yeah, it would have made a fun cover (at least for those who, like me, pay attention to detail). And who knows? It might have even created a little buzz, which could conceivably help sales. But my higher self took charge and pointed out the "problem," whereupon someone in the Art department airbrushed that "crease" away.* (Yeah, right. Crease.)

Now, if I were the decorous type, I never would have dreamed of mentioning it here. But we all know better than that, don't we? ;)

Besides, Tawna was right. It is too good not to share. 

*Pro tip to photographers: make sure your cover models' suits have been adequately ironed ahead of time. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

A Very Important Lesson about Writing. With Random Fartage. (#ThrowbackThursday)

Hey, I'm kind of digging this #ThrowbackThursday thing. Even if it involves plagiarizing some of my earlier posts. 

(Is self-plagiarism a thing? Oh, well. I'm fairly sure I won't be suing me. Not unless I get really desperate, that is.)

This week's edition of #TBT is from March 2010, and involves an actual lesson in writing. If you dig deeply enough, that is. 

If you're not a writer, please just sit back and enjoy the flight. :)

Epiphanies in the Air: Flying, Fartage, and Phobias

I hate flying.

Well, it's not really the flying I hate so much as the not being able to get off the airplane if--and precisely when--I want to. So it's really more like claustrophobia, plane-ophobia?

Maybe if I could wear a parachute, and be assured the flight attendant would open the door for me if I wanted off, maybe then I'd like it better.

Nah, that wouldn't work. There's that whole being terrified of jumping out of planes from thirty thousand feet up to consider.


So, what I do with it. The rare occasions when I must fly, I suck it up (along with a martini or two) and deal. It's worked for me so far. Sure, I get a few looks on morning flights, but that's a small price to pay for avoiding a major panic attack.

What I can't seem to avoid on planes is the person who is operating under some sort of divine imperative to Tell Me His Life Story. (And by "his" I mean, for the most part, "her," but I try not to impugn my own gender when speaking in generalities.)

It's my own fault. I exude a talk-to-me vibe. I realize this. There's just something about me that says "I am utterly fascinated by every aspect of your being--please share!" Maybe it's the glow from the martinis.

The last time this happened (on a looong flight to Seattle) the woman sitting next to me pounced before I could pull my book of crossword puzzles out of my over-sized, stuffed-to-the-gills handbag (hey, when I travel, I like to be prepared for any eventuality--you never know when you might need a tape measure, three Chinese take-out menus, or an industrial-sized bottle of Tums).

So, my new traveling companion--let's call her, oh, I don't know...does "Gabby" work for you?--caught my eye. I hadn't even scored a freakin' martini yet, so it couldn't have been the glow. Maybe she smelled the fear and, predator-like, struck while the opportunity was ripe.

I tried to look away, but it was too late. She smiled at me. I can't be rude to somebody who smiles at me, especially twinkly little gray-haired ladies who look like everyone's favorite grandma. It is physically impossible for me to cold-shoulder them.

An obvious pro at getting right down to the nitty-gritty before the possibility of being cut off, she started with her recent gall-bladder surgery, apologizing in advance for the emanations she feared might waft over from her general direction. Sadly, the operation had upset her system.

Oh, joy. So not only would my ears be assaulted, but if I was interpreting her delicate references correctly, my nose was in for quite a ride too.

I wanted to jam my hands together in the classic time-out signal and squeal "TMI! TMI!!" (that stands for "Too Much Information," for those of you not up on interwebz lingo), but courtesy forbade. Instead, I beckoned the flight attendant and tried to pre-order a martini using an elaborate system of hand and eyebrow gestures. She wasn't amused, and I'm sure she put me on a List.

From there Gabby segued directly to grandchildren (the visiting of whom was the reason for her own flight). Takes a while to get through every milestone of cuteness in the lives of three children. And then came the pets. Two cockapoos and an ancient pekenese, all with impacted "you-know-where" glands that required regular draining (she could warn me about impending fartage but couldn't bring herself to say "anal"?), and she was terribly worried her pet-sitter would neglect to do that while she was away.

Huh, I thought while smiling blandly (the first martini having been delivered somewhere around her granddaughter's first ballet recital...or was it her youngest grandson's honorable mention in the Junior Golf Championship?), you can bet your sweet bippy I'D be skipping that particular chore if I were pet sitting for you.

But of course, I only nodded sympathetically and chewed my olives.

THAT, dear blog reader, is when I had my Great Backstory Epiphany.

And here it is: Nobody cares.

Simple, huh? Nobody who doesn't know you gives a flip about the minutia of your life.

(Unless you're a celebrity, and really that's only because they feel like they know you. Or sometimes if you're really pretty, because they think listening attentively will get them laid.)

Here's the writing connection: it goes for your characters, too.

Early in your book, before the readers have learned who your characters currently are--right now, in the characters' "present"--they aren't interested in what happened to them before. It has no relevance until the reader knows enough about what's happening "now" to care about what happened "then." (Unless the "then" is a terribly sensational scandal of some sort, fascinating in its own right, in which case it should probably be part of your main story, not your backstory.)

[I KNOW. It's been said thousands of times before, highlighted in every book on writing you've ever read. But sometimes it takes a real life connection to make it sink in. It did for me, anyway. Maybe you're better about learning vicariously.]

So, when adding in your backstory (which is not entirely avoidable--your main story must have context), try to use a light hand. Reveal the past on a need-to-know basis. Retain a little mystery. Trust me, your traveling companion--*cough* I mean, your reader--will appreciate it.