Friday, February 27, 2009

I Wish I Could Say The Inspiration Came from Will Shakespeare

For my new WIP, I have lots of character sketches, plot outlines and scene descriptions. I've even written a few chapters. But it's not quite working.

This afternoon, I read a few scenes from Romeo and Juliet to Jeremy. He has been sick for most of the week, and is behind with homework. Jeremy finds the play difficult, so I selflessly offered to read aloud some of the most beautiful writing in the English language. During a pause while Jeremy wrote down a scene summary, I let my eyes wander to the bookshelf.

And then I realized what was wrong with my plot. It's so obvious. I've written about this concept in numerous blogs. Yet, it took me a long time to figure it out.

The protagonist needs to confront his own demons. Frodo must destroy The Ring. Harry must face Lord Voldemort (at least seven times). Stanley Yelnats must carry Zero up the mountain.


As soon as I figure out what Troy's demons are, I'll make him confront them.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Overheard #47

"I asked a yes or no question, and you gave me a [expletive deleted] paragraph."

(I'm trying to adhere to Blogger's guidelines on adult content.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Signs of Spring?

My snowdrops usually bloom around the beginning of March. Yesterday I discovered they’d been eaten.

To round up the usual suspects, click here or here.

They were supposed to look like this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things I Should Have Realized a Long Time Ago - Part 4

You are what you wear – at least if you’re a teen. Many kids’ identities are strongly associated with their group, and their style announces their allegiance.

Some kids go beyond choir sweatshirts and Letterman’s jackets. Last summer the varsity football team shaved their heads.

The heavy metal rock performance I mentioned in yesterday's post was long and loud, and I had time to study the musicians. Of course, they wore lots of metallic accessories, and many were pierced and tattooed. The female base player seemed undecided between rocker and popular high school girl. She wore tight jeans, Ugg® boots and a black designer sweatshirt with silver ornamentation. The boys in the band had skinnier arms than Sam’s iron-pumping football pals.

In my WIP, I hope to make the most of fashion, without making too much of it.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Things I Should Have Realized a Long Time Ago - Part 3

On Saturday, Jeremy had a guitar recital. We were surprised to discover that Eric, a friend from Tae Kwon Do, was also performing with his band.

Tae Kwon Do behavior involves a lot of standing at attention, bowing, and saying, “Yes, Sir!” Eric is a soft-spoken teen who helps teach the Tiger Tots and the Junior classes. Eric and Sam have been sparring partners for years.

When we got home, I told Sam that Eric played lead guitar in a heavy metal band. He’d perfected all the rock star moves and was skilled and talented. Sam’s eyes popped open.

Eric has a secret life. Maybe some of my characters should too.

My new WIP has a character who needs to jump off the page. Should I make him a closet rocker or something equally outrageous?

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Photo by me.

It's been a busy week, so I dredged up this photo from last May.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


That's how many words I cut on my last read through.

How embarrassing is that! Where does all that excess verbiage come from? How did it survive so many previous drafts?

I'm still thinking of taking out a few scenes at the end. I find it hard to say goodbye to my characters so I tend to drag out endings. Snip. Snip. Snip.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Overheard #46

"If the sky’s the limit, then that’s just boring."

Monday, February 16, 2009

So, How Is the Writing Going?

I started a new project last month that I will affectionately refer to as TAoCBS. I brought the first chapter to my critique group for a thumbs up or thumbs down vote. They voted up. Whew.

Those guys are really smart, though, and they mentioned many aspects to consider and work on. I knew my plot needed some filling out and filling in. Little did I know how much it needed.

Inspiration hasn't exactly been forthcoming.

Going on a long walk every day might help with that inspiration problem. Today, I will walk for sure.

In the mean time, I've been reading my previous work-in-progress (CBL) out loud to check for rhythm, flow and repeated words. I repeat words too often. (See?) 60,000 words is a lot say out loud (more repeated words). I've been indulging in herbal tea and peppermints.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Photo by Z.F. Burton
February Moon

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Photo by me.

I photographed this rose last August when my brother sent me a bouquet for my birthday. Another way to recycle.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Neanderthals Are In the News

Svante Pääbo and his coworkers at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig have mapped 63% of the Neanderthal genome. This is a daunting task considering the age and fragmentation of available Neanderthal DNA.

Most of the news coverage I’ve seen ignores the obvious anthropological and evolutionary significance of this work and focuses on the burning question, “Can we clone one?”

Dr. Pääbo says no.

Here is the New York Times science page article. I'll try to add the reference from Science when the journal comes home from the lab.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Standing Water in the Backyard

... or why I'm checking the sump pump frequently. Usually the backyard looks like this in April.

Overheard #45

"I stole a valence electron."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


My older son is trying to decide whether to attend The University of Michigan or Michigan State University, so yesterday we attended Campus Day at U of M. We were told that Robert Frost is believed to have been inspired to write "The Road Not Taken" while visiting the U of M Arboretum. Perhaps this legend is true. It is certainly a good excuse to read the poem again.

P.S. I just changed the link for the poem, so readers can enjoy it without seeing ads.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Photo by me.

These begonias are blooming in our sun room now.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

The Labyrinth

I just finished reading a disappointing book in which the labyrinth is merely a metaphor for political scheming.

My view of the labyrinth is different. Isn't a labyrinth at its most trivial and most profound a model for the brain? A character who enters a labyrinth must face dangers and overcome fear, but most importantly, the character must face himself, and emerge a changed person.

Toward the end of my mother's life, her memory failed. She had few topics to discuss, and I could predict at the start of each conversation where it would lead. I imagined the brain to be a city map, and a person could move from one place to another by walking, running, jumping or even flying. My mother's map became simple and the traveling slow and measured. Perhaps as her vision and her memory dimmed, she feared getting lost.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

On Vampires

No one in my family has read the Twilight series, but that doesn't stop us from discussing the popularity of these books.

Jeremy (9th grade) complained that nearly every girl in his class gave a book report on one of the Twilight series.

Sam (12th grade) noted that his criticisms of Twilight (on his blog) could alienate 85% of his potential dating pool.

My husband quipped, "Teen satire is better than teen vampires."

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Overheard #44

"You gotta hang out on the half notes."

Monday, February 2, 2009

Groundhog Day

I've never understood Groundhog Day.

Of course we celebrated it when I was in elementary school, but the end of winter is not meaningful when you live in Southern California. Click here to see the monthly temperature variation in Los Angeles.

Later, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, and I could never figure out if six more weeks of winter was good news or bad. If the little rodent didn't see his shadow, could winter last even longer?

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Photo by me.

Only a couple more months until spring brings color to Michigan.