100 Word Challenge | What does it taste like?

The initiation required a lack of parental supervision. In the moonlight, the boys could just make out the slow rise and fall of Scott’s dad’s chest, a much better indicator of sleep than his fake snoring.

By the light of the refrigerator, the boys made the concoction. Milk, cola, grape juice, and more. Never the same twice, all but one of the sleepover boys had drunk their own elixir.

“One more thing,” said Scott, walking over to his father’s liquor cabinet.

The new boy held the glass aloft before tilting it in.

“What does it taste like?” asked Scott.

“Like…” said the boy, “like acceptance.”

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Common Errors in English Usage

lose_vs_loose

Consider this paying it forward. My coworker and friend, Louis McBride, shared the following link with me a while back, and it was one of the kindest things he could have done for me as a fellow writer. Here’s the link:

Common Errors in English Usage

But you don’t have to be a writer to appreciate the value of the link I’ve just shared. If you use the English language at all, bookmark it and visit often. By doing so, you can save yourself from my wrathful stare the next time you are tempted to use “loose” in place of “lose.”

This confusion can easily be avoided if you pronounce the word intended aloud. If it has a voiced Z sound, then it’s “lose.” If it has a hissy S sound, then it’s “loose.” Here are examples of correct usage: “He tends to lose his keys.” “She lets her dog run loose.” Note that when “lose” turns into “losing” it loses its “E.”

Or say “Once and a while.”

The expression is “once in a while.”

Or perhaps you are unduly afraid to use the phrase, “Piss and Vinegar.”

To say that people are “full of piss and vinegar” is to say that they are brimming with energy. Although many speakers assume the phrase must have a negative connotation, this expression is more often used as a compliment, “vinegar” being an old slang term for enthusiastic energy.

Some try to make this expression more polite by substituting “pith” for “piss,” but this change robs it of the imagery of acrid, energetically boiling fluids and conjures up instead a sodden, vinegar-soaked mass of pith. Many people who use the “polite” version are unaware of the original.

In any case, there is a good chance that you’ll learn something (and probably have to correct something you’ve been saying wrong for years).

I am one-cheeking this post.

Here’s the deal. I’m taking today off to spend with my beautiful wife. We have a fun day planned with lunch out at the Hibachi place that we like and an hour soak at Oasis Hot Tubs. So I’m taking the day off from my blog as well.

To tide you over until tomorrow, here are some things you can check out:

– If you are into flash fiction, here’s a contest to enter.

isabella_dog_biscuits

If you are into fun web-comics, try My Cardboard Life.

If you are still sad that I am not posting my usual brilliance, just start re-reading my posts from the beginning.

my blog model

Come back tomorrow for something amazing! I don’t know what it is yet, but it has to beat today’s.

The Genius of Andy Riley

I work in a bookstore. You may already have known that. What you may not know is that the bookstore where I work is known worldwide for our selection of Used Books.

You see, Baker Book House started as a used book store back in 1939 when our founder, Herman Baker, started by selling books from his personal library. Having worked at Baker for eight years now, I have come to appreciate book and bookseller humor. So when I found the British show “Black Books” on Netflix a while back, I was beside myself with glee. Actually, I was beside my wife while she slept (like a sensible person) and giggling to myself about the embellished truisms of bookstore customers and employees.

Here’s a clip:

What I did not know until recently was that one of the main writers for the show was Andy Riley, creator of the Bunny Suicides books, which I also enjoy. And now that you have two new things that will be demanding your attention (finding more Black Books clips on YouTube or Netflix and reading up all the Andy Riley you can get), I won’t waste any more of your time.

Happy Friday everyone!

Flash Fiction 101

I know that some of you probably missed Jot: The GR Writers Mini-Conference, but that’s okay. We recorded our presentations. Posted below is my presentation with a link to my notes, if you should like to see them. Be sure that you check out the other presentations as well.

My Notes – flash_fiction_101

The evening went better than we could have imagined. Thanks again to everyone who joined us.

We’ll be meeting soon to discuss the next Jot event. If you want to stay up-to-date with what’s happening with the Writers Mini-Conference, bookmark the links below.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Story Vs. Characters

In 1996, I saw a movie that changed my life. The movie was Independence Day, featuring Bill Pullman and Will Smith.

The part that changed my life was this: Stories revolve around the characters who live to tell them.

I remember thinking, as I left the theater, how incredible it was that with a body count as high as the movie had, none of the important characters were killed. If a character died, it was intentional, sacrificial. With lasers and bullets flying everywhere, you might have thought that SOMEONE would have been killed unintentionally, but no.

Stories are told by the living. Why would the script writer tell the story of a man who accidently died in a car accident? That would make for one sad movie.

I operated by this understanding for years. Every time someone would point out how implausible it was that all of the characters got through a war or something like that, I would think, why would the author follow the ones who died?

But then I started reading George R. R. Martin’s series, A Song of Ice and Fire, and all of my preconceived notions died like so many of Martin’s characters. I don’t mean to spoil the series for anyone, but if you’ve heard anything about it, you know not to get too attached to any of the characters. No one is safe from the author’s pen stroke of death.

As a man who is usually more fascinated by the characters than the story itself, this troubles me. How can I escape into a world of fantasy when it is as cruel as the real world?

Now, I know that authors use terrible events in the lives of their characters to prove their mettle and to draw readers in, but there is usually an unspoken rule that things will work out well in the end. And if the character happens to die, it will be a noble death, one that gives closure to the storyline.

But if the story is more important than the characters, then anything goes.

Which is more important to you? Story or characters? Do you ever feel cheated by the author’s choices to kill certain characters? Or would you feel cheated if things worked out TOO well for everyone?

Flash Fiction Challenge Entry | Stranded

flash_fiction_challenge_250x250Here’s my entry to the “Money Can’t Buy” prompt.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

“A compliment can buy things money can’t.”

“Buy what, exactly?” spat Ryan. “I can’t eat your kindness.”

But the old pilot was far away, loitering near the border between life and the hereafter. Ryan tired of his words, but he knew he would miss them when the only voice was his own.

The crash happened days ago. Perhaps weeks.

“Mother?”

“She isn’t here,” said Ryan. “No one is here.”

“Mother, I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He sounded different, scared.

“It’s okay,” Ryan lied. “I forgive you.”

The old man’s breath halted, stopped. Glassy eyes stared past Ryan.

“I forgive you.”

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