Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Monday, June 27, 2011
** For more information about Langston Hughes and his poetry visit http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/83
Friday, June 24, 2011
“Rungway! Rungway!" yelled a man at a person driving down the street. If the tourist had been native to the area, he would have understood “Wrong way!” and realized he was driving the wrong way down a one way street. The first person was speaking a dialect unfamiliar to a visitor.
Not all people speak the same language the same way. Every language has dialects, also accents and idiolects, which are divided by social groups (Valley Girl and Ebonics), class and geographic regions. There are almost no grammatical differences region to region but word pronunciation is frequently markedly different and some words are replaced. A good example: soda versus pop for carbonated soft drinks. Vocabulary is the most fluid aspect of dialects and grammar the least.
Within some dialects, subdialects emerge but usually do not become permanent. Young people parrot the speech of popular singers who in turn are influenced by Southern white or black speech patterns. Youngsters frequently weaken vowels before an “L”: sale = sell, really = rilly, and feel = fill. They also like creating their own dialects to talk more secretly and to define social status among themselves. By the time these words come into general usage, the young people have dropped them and gone on to other words. Today’s rapid development of communications technology will probably slow down the evolution of dialects and languages. For the first time in history, a dialect called Network Standard is being used all across the country without regard to the usual stratifications of speech. Class distinction, race and poverty will slow down this trend but more and more people will be added to the users as they grow up in a computer dominated world. As a sidelight, many children are not being taught cursive writing because teachers say they all will be using personal communication devices and never need to put their thoughts on paper via a pencil or pen.
Try asking someone what those sandwiches with many layers between thick slices of buns are called. In Philadelphia they are hoagies; NY heroes; New Orleans po’ boys; Pittsburgh submarines; Miami Cuban sandwiches; and strangely enough in Wisconsin Garibaldis. A heavy rainstorm is called a dam-buster in AL, hay-rotter in VA, leak-finder in WI, million dollar rain in MS, tree-bender in Maine, ditch-worker in IL, sewer-clogger in MI, mud-sender in CA, and gully washer in 3 dozen other states. Other more localized names are goose-drowners, toad stranglers and duck drenchers. Most of us say “turn off the lights” but in the South is it “cut off the lights” and in the Northeast “shut off the lights”. Floridians “mash” button while the rest of us “push” them to open an elevator door or start the washing machine.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
There are four general types of immersion writing. For most writers, immersion writing is actually living an experience and writing about it from an interactive viewpoint. Popularizing this style, Paris magazine founder and editor George Plimpton wrote about his experiences as a back up quarterback for the Detroit Lions, as a professional hockey goalie with the Boston Bruins and about his time on the pro golf circuit. Lee Gutkind, founder of the literary journal, Creative Nonfiction, wrote Many Sleepless Nights, an inside chronicle of the world of organ transplants written in an immersion style.
When creating the first type of immersion writing, the author examines every detail of an experience from an often participatory viewpoint as well as an observer. George Plimpton actually practiced with the pro football and hockey teams as well as played a few minutes in games. Lee Gutkind did not participate in his first immersion book about the world of organ transplants but he was given access to several patients and donors as well as being in the operating room when a transplant was performed, then interviewing the patients afterwards. In both of these instances, the authors used their five senses to maximize their ability for observation and retention of information. Plimpton described what it feels like to be a pro football player; what it is like to train and the experience the excitement and nervousness of game day; the need to see on all sides of him; the feel of the dimpling on the leather football; the smells of the locker room; the sound as it reverberates on the field with the crowd cheering and even the taste of a new product called Gatorade he drank after a play. He turned all this know-how into several successful, humorous books by writing creative nonfiction stories regarding what he saw, touched, smelled, heard and tasted. Gutkind did the same. They immersed themselves in the subject in order to write a more personalized book on a subject they liked or wanted to know about. What was it really like to be a pro football player? What were the attitudes of teammates upon winning or losing? How is camaraderie built by the team manager? Plimpton reported on the answers to these and many more questions by telling us stories through creative nonfiction.
In order to create a publishable piece out of an immersion research experience, one must plan what he wants to observe but be open to all interpretations by necessity. Research beforehand is necessary in order to ask intelligent questions (what does the doctor do with the diseased kidney after removal, why do I have to have my ankles taped before a scrimmage, what can fail, how much will it hurt, etc.) It can be likened to boot camp for army recruits: every waking moment of how, where and when you sleep, eat and spend your days are defined by the parameters of experience. Each day is setting your mind to something foreign to your usual activities where your mind must concentrate on the tasks continually. Memory is a strong component of this type of research.
The second kind of immersion writing has a shorter period of observation and no participation. Pretend you are developing a villain. Go to the airport and watch people for two hours. Use the five senses and record (written or on a tape recorder) the sights, sounds, smells, mannerisms and voices of people departing or arriving. Jot down all the things you see, smell, taste, hear and feel. Note eyes, body language, what strangers do when they accidentally touch, how a fiancé looks as she says good-bye to her deployed soldier, the spiritedness of bored children, and even how a suitcase sounds as it is rolled along. Immerse yourself in one task: studying people. Do not text or take a coffee break. When you return home, you have a plethora of characteristics from which you can create a realistic character for your book. Flush out your notes and keep them for other stories too.
A third type of immersion writing is enrolling in a weekend course on writing where all you do is write, critique and learn. You leave home for some idyllic, peaceful, quiet setting where you will be inundated with information related to writing. Some people use what they call a fourth style of immersion writing by writing about anything for a twenty minute session every day just to begin the creative process.
Immersion style books by Lee Gutkind -- Keep It Real: Everything You Need to Know About Researching and Writing Creative Nonfiction. An Unspoken relates a profile of veterinary medicine. The University of Southern Illinois Press re-issued Gutkind's best selling book (originally by Dial Press) about major league umpires, The Best Seat In Baseball, But You Have to Stand!
Immersion style books by George Plimpton -- Paper Lion tells about being a backup quarterback during preseason training with the Detroit Lions of the National Football League and a follow-up book titled Mad Ducks and Bears. The Bogey Man chronicles his attempt to play professional golf on the PGA Tour during the Nicklaus and Palmer era. Shadow Boxing chronicles a bout with pro boxer Archie Moore. Open Net details the insider’s view of the fascinating world of pro hockey where he immersed himself with the prohockey team, the Boston Bruins. Plimpton trained then pitched in a baseball game against the National League and wrote about it in Out of My League.
Monday, June 20, 2011
Researching name origins can often give you ideas that match the characters you are developing. Many surnames originate from the occupation of men in the Middle Ages. “Houseman” is a useful man; “Pfeiffer” mean a whistle or pipe player; “Chandler” is one who makes candles; “Albert” means noble, bright or famous; “Peter” can be a stone or rock, thus Peter-son is the male kin of a stone mason. “Gregory” is watchful and vigilant. “Wardell” is one who dwells hear the watch hill, “Truman” is someone who is faithful and loyal, “Christi,” “Christopher” and “Kris”are followers of Christ.
Use the following to help match your protagonists and antagonists to appropriate names:
➢ Top ten baby names of each year (for 2010 boys’ names: Aden, Jacob, Ethan, Michael, Alexander; girls’ names: Ella, Olivia, Emma, Sophia, Ava); popular books and web sites give the meanings of thousands of names and top names for each year and decade.
➢ Phone books
➢ Obituaries and births announcements
➢ Your imagination
➢ Rosters of large organization such as the U.S. Congress, Britain’s Parliament.
➢ Court records
Tips to help you:
• Pair a common first name with an uncommon last name or vice versa.
• Avoid overly wordy or cute spellings (Genyfer or Mycal for instance.)
• Avoid trends. Common names seem to stand better in time.
• Trendy names work only if you match the name with the age of the character. Connie is the name of 60-70 year old woman not a girl of 12 if your setting is 2000. Horace is an 1880’s name, not a 1940’s setting name. Also, match ethnicities and settings. Billy Bob is not a common combination in the Midwest.
• Try not to make up surnames such as Adamsley, Smither, or Johnstone. It is too contrived.
• Avoid Bob, Jim, Jane, John and Joe which are too forgettable.
• Read aloud the names you have chosen in context. “Rodriquez put on his top hat and cashmere coat and left Marry Poppins in charge.” “ Mary Poppins” is a wonderful name because this magical nanny popped in and out of families’ lives at a whim but Rodriques does not match the persona of an English banker.
• Try not to use apostrophes: d’Blum, d’VanDer Bergen.
• The names should be easy to pronounce or it irritates the reader and makes for confusing conversations with critics, book clubs and reviewers. Radmina Rovanestkeyvitova is a no-no.
• Futuristic names can be unusual or weird so go for it if you write fantasy. Be sure to look up abnormal names or definitions of eldritch words to make sure there is nothing in using that as a name that would not match your character or mean of the opposite of the personality of your character.
• Siblings’ names should vary. Trace, Trevor, Tim and Ted as well as Sherry, Susan, Sandi and Sarah are too confusing.
• Madison, Connie, Ashley, and Evelyn were at one time male names only so do your research.
• Match the country to the name. Andrew is not a good name for a Russian antagonist.
• “T” and “S” are strong consonants and “D’ and “B” have a more pleasant ring.
Several web sites are: www.ancestory.com; www.writing-world.com/romance/names.shtml; www.listofbabynames.org; www.babynameguide.com
Friday, June 17, 2011
Paul Lindholdt, author of In Earshot of Water, will visit the East Bonner County Library in Sandpoint on Saturday, June 18 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Local history buffs especially will be intrigued by In Earshot of Water, which interweaves passages from the journals of Lewis and Clark, the log of Captain James Cook, the novelized memoir of Theodore Winthrop, and Bureau of Reclamation records to tell ecological and personal histories of the region.
Also on Saturday, local author V. Edward Bates will present his book In Search of Spirit: A Sioux Family Memoir at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane at 12:30 p.m., following the unveiling of a painting by internationally acclaimed artist Marianne Gendron. The painting depicts a young Native American woman in traditional dress who is V. Edward Bates' mother.
On Tuesday, June 21 at 7 p.m. at Auntie's in Spokane, John C. Jackson, author of five books on the history of the Pacific Northwest, will present his latest, By Honor and Right, which describes the life of Captain John C. McClallen, who came to the Northwest after the Lewis and Clark Expedition and was instrumental in keeping the British from claiming territory below the 49th parallel.
Another event of interest to history buffs will take place at on June 22 at Aunties Bookstore in Spokane. A presentation on the late Barbara Cochran's book, Seven Frontier Women and the Founding of Spokane Falls, will highlight the stores of "founding mothers" Carrie Adell Strahorn, physician Mary Latham, Anna Browne, Susan Glover, Jennie Cannon, Alice Ide Houghton, and Clara Gray.
So if the travails of modern life have been getting to you lately, take a dip into these historical waters. You'll get a nice little vacation from the 21st century, and who knows? You might gain a new appreciation of current technology, modern medicine, and indoor plumbing.
Monday, June 13, 2011
1. Capture brilliant ideas. Some of the best ideas come to us while we're staring idly out the car window or lying on a deck chair. You may think you'll never forget that great idea for a story or wonderful turn of phrase, but why take a chance? Jot it down while it's fresh in your mind.
2. Eavesdrop. Traveling in a different region or a foreign country is a great way to pick up the cadence of the local dialect and certain words or phrases you don't hear every day. You may never utter the phrase, "Well, that just dills my pickle!" but it might be a perfect line for the Southern belle in your story.
3. Describe the location. What's the weather like where you're going? What kinds of plants grow there? How does the air feel? What do you smell? Is it flat, hilly, mountainous? What do the houses look like? What are people wearing? Driving? Doing? You never know when some of these details might work their way into a story, if you've captured them on paper or on your hard drive.
4. Remember the food. What's the regional cuisine? Are there foods you can't get at home? What's the predominant ethnic influence? Seafood at the beach? Cherries in the fruit belt? Enjoy a succulent regional meal and take notes, right there at the table. (Maybe someone will think you're a restaurant critic and you'll get extra-special VIP treatment!)
5. Pass the time. Travel can involve a lot of waiting in airports, train stations, and hotel lobbies. If you have a writing project with you to work on, you'll never have to be bored.
6. Escape. Sometimes vacations can lead to a little too much family togetherness. Taking some time out to go to a quiet place and write for a while can restore your equilibrium.
7. Read the local press and regional magazines. News items and features about what's going on in other parts of the country or world can be great fodder for stories you might want to pitch to editors back home. Make a note of them.
Bon voyage, and happy writing!
Friday, June 10, 2011
For the occasion, I read a very short scene from "Hazard Pay," where Bob volunteers to cut the top out of a fir tree angled over the rim of the Moyie Canyon to make way for a transit shot for the bridge. Then Alex Henkoski, guitar player with the North Idaho Hat Band played a couple sets of great bluegrass at the Market, followed with his reading of excerpts from the "Cougar Bob Review." I can't speak for anyone else, but I had a fine time.
Courageous North Idaho long distance runner, Robert L. Campbell, contracts polio in the Navy, right out of High School. Will he ever run again?
In one of the book’s twenty-six short stories, he shows his determination to walk without braces, and once again to work as a hunter/trapper. People who know him, dub him Cougar Bob, because he’s the State & Federal Wildlife agencies’ go-to hunter/trapper of menacing animals. He faces life-threatening blizzards, swims the rivers at ice flow, is dropped into the Moyie Canyon at the end of a rope, tracks an escaped killer with his man-trailing bloodhound, and takes a cougar with his pocket knife.
To learn more about B.J. herself, be sure to read her interview with Cathy Stucker, below. You'll learn what inspired her, how she found a publisher, and valuable insights from this talented writer.
B.J. Campbell Interview
Author of CLOSE CALLS: The True Tales of Cougar Bob
"The Cougar Bob Review"
|by Cathy Stucker|
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
With the popularity and rise in real-time text-based communications, such as Facebook, Twitter, instant messaging, e-mail, Internet and online gaming services, chat rooms, discussion boards and mobile phone text messaging (SMS), came the emergence of a new language tailored to the immediacy and compactness of these new communication media. - fun-with-words.com
Online Jargon (a.k.a. cyberslang, electronic language, e-mail style, geek-speak, hi-tech lingo, hybrid shorthand, netspeak, slang, slanguage, and textese)
Online jargon is the specialized language, chat acronyms, text message shorthand, and technical lingo that is used while communicating in the online world. Like slang, it can develop as a kind of shorthand, to express ideas that are frequently discussed between members of a group, though it can also be developed deliberately using chosen terms.
Here's an example: "My smmr hols wr CWOT. B4, we used 2go2 NY 2C my bro, his GF & thr 3 :-@ kids FTF. ILNY, it's a gr8 plc." It is translated like this: "My summer holidays were a complete waste of time. Before, we used to go to
to see my brother, his girlfriend, and their three screaming kids face to face. I love New York . It's a great place." New York
Chat Acronyms (a.k.a. Abbreviations, Initialism, Shorthand, Text Messaging Shorthand)
A nickname for abbreviations of words used primarily in chat rooms and while texting or instant messaging, chat acronyms are popular on the Internet as a modern day type of shorthand for common phrases. This type of shorthand is also seen in e-mail messages, newsgroup postings, discussion boards, and in the media in general.
One reason acronyms and shorthand are used so widely is that it's quicker and easier to type a few letters rather than to type the full expression. They're fun (but they can also be naughty)!
The difference between acronyms and shorthand is that with acronyms, you pronounce the letters as a new word (for example, "NATO" is pronounced "na-toe"). In contrast, shorthand pronunciations are like an initialism (a set of initials) in which you say the letters one-by-one (for example, "ESP" is an initialism for "extra sensory perception."
The online practice is to refer to any online shorthand, initialisms, or abbreviations as acronyms.
Another reason to learn "netspeak"
According to Ammon Shea, consulting editor for Oxford University Press, both acronyms and initialisms are a growing part of our everyday language and “Since it is unlikely that they will go away anytime soon," you might as well learn about them.
Acronym – An abbreviation that forms a new word such as NATO (“Na-toe,”
North AtlanticTreaty Organization)
Initialism – An abbreviation in which each letter is capitalized and in which each letter is pronounced, as in RIP (R-I-P, rest in peace) and TMI (T-M-I, too much information).
These examples led me to think about abbreviations I’m more familiar with. I am a member of DAR, an initialism for Daughters of the American Revolution; and I belong to an organization called kNIFVES, an acronym for Northwest Independent Film & Video Entertainment Society. Oh, and I am also a contributor to a blog called WNI, an initialism for Writing North Idaho. (If it was an acronym, it would sound like “whinny” and everyone would think we’re a group of horse lovers.)
As I continued to scroll through the thousands of acronyms, my cynicism eventually evaporated and my love of words overcame my grudging nature to learn a new language at my stage of life; and I began to find the cryptic language both interesting and fun. IMHO, the biggest advantage to using these abbreviations lies in the time-saving ease they offer when communicating - once you learn the pesky little things.
Just a Few Internet Terms
AFAIK – as far as I know
AFAIR - as far as I remember
AFK – away from keyboard
AIAMU - and I'm a monkey's uncle
ATM – at the moment
b/c - because
BBL – be back later – use when offline for longer time than BRB or AFK
BFN – Bye for now
BIO - bring it on
BR – Best regards
BRB – be right back
BTW – by the way
C4N - Caio for now
CTA - call to action
CX - correction
DAMHIKT - don't as me how I know that
EM - Email
EWI - Emailing while intoxicated
FB - Facebook
FWIW – for what it’s worth
GFTD - gone for the day
HTH – hope that helps
HWGA - here we go again
IBIWISI - I'll believe it when I see it
ICYMI – in case you missed it
IDK – I don’t know
IMHO – in my humble opinion
IMO – in my opinion
IRL – in real life
J/K – just kidding
JMO - just my opinion
JSYK - just so you know
LMK – let me know
MBN – must be nice
MITIN – more information than I need
MOF – matter of fact – but be careful with any word that has an “F” in it.
MOS - mom over shoulder
MUBAR – messed up beyond all recognition
NB - Nota Bene. Make sure to read the comments, where there are many great additions.
N1 - nice one
NBIF – no basis in fact
OBX - old battle axe
Orly, O Rly, Rly ORLY – usually sarcastic “Oh, really.”
PCM - please call me
PEBCAK – problem exists between chair and keyboard
RNN - reply not necessary
RTF – read the FAQ
RTQ – read the question
TISNF - this is so not fair
TL;DR – Too long; didn’t read.
TMI – too much information
TTYL – Talk to you later
W/R/T/ – With regards to
YW – you're welcome
Monday, June 6, 2011
Barb was born Chicago, in the height of the Depression. She worked in the fashion industry in Chicago and in the Dallas-Ft. Worth, area until age 50. She did modeling, platform speaking, fashion show production and even had her own television show on charm and beauty. She retired and moved to California, for R&R; riding her bicycle along the beaches for two years before getting back in the race. She worked as an independent marketer for various industries, a job that demanded she write ad copy, promotional brochures and instruction sheets for fashion programs as well as for biological monitoring programs for industrial doctors. She moved to Coeur d'Alene from California, in 1988. In 2003, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer for Agency on Aging and began writing a monthly column for them in the Coeur d'Alene Press in 2004. In 2007, she branched out to writing columns for The Spokesman Review’s VOICE and the Panhandle SeniorGazette newspaper. Her latest adventure – a stretch, she says, “like everything else I’ve tackled,” is learning how to write screenplays. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do, but I’m hooked.”
Hmmm, I already knew that…and that’s what appealed to my inner lazy bum about screenwriting…it just looked so darned easy. There was no need to struggle with pages and pages of tedious description.
Well then, if it is so all-fired easy, why am I having such a hard time doing it?
The screenwriter’s job is to show not tell the story. And…there’s the rub.
It’s our job to write dialogue, give information on time of day and location of action, and to give the director and actor brief, written instructions to clarify the intent of the scene they’re about to do. But I seem to be trying to cram the story into these lines of instruction that precede the lines of dialogue.
That’s a big no-no.
I’m afraid there’s a lot more to this screenwriting thing than meets the eye, but it’s fascinating, fun and challenging. So, I was delighted with the idea of joining the screenwriting group that Mary Jane is facilitating.
This group’s members run the gamut from novice (me) to people like
Mary Jane herself, whose award winning script is now being readied for actual filming and production; it’s scheduled to start filming this July. (Congratulations, Mary Jane!)
Another group member is Bob, a grandfatherly sort – a film industry professional who has enjoyed a long career in Hollywood, the Mecca of film production. He’s been involved in all phases of film-making – he’s written original screenplays; he’s re-written scripts, he’s produced, directed, and he has acted in films. This easy-going guy knows the ropes – the real “nitty-gritty” of writing a good and saleable script. And, he enthusiastically shares that wealth of knowledge with all of us.
Attending the screenwriter’s group is a real shot in the arm for me at least three reasons. One, it gives me incentive. I don’t need to remind you, my fellow writers, writing is a pretty solitary sport. Not only do we fret about being good enough, but, we have to cleverly head off the dreaded writer’s block.
Two – a productive discussion about our project is of immeasurable value.
No matter how many times we re-read our piece, we can still miss the fact that we have mislead, lost or confused our reader.
We need to know if our work is clear; is it compelling? Are the characters believable, interesting? Do we whet the readers’ appetite for more (so they will turn to the next page?)
The third reason why the group is a shot in the arm is it just feels so good to be in the company of screenwriters.
Last night I went to the workshop with 6 copies of a scene from my screenplay, eager for the groups’ critique. It was with great anticipation that I passed the copies around. As the group read my 7 pages of script, the silence was palpable for me and I nervously searched their faces for some reaction.
Actually, I didn’t know what kind of reaction to expect. Finally they looked up from their reading, exchanged looks with each other and with me. Then, in a very professional manner, each person offered me good, honest, yet kind, suggestions about my script. This evolved into a productive discussion about my script and its story.
Their consensus: I was telling, not showing my story. The group gave me examples of how to “show” my story through the dialogue instead of telling it in the director’s notes. So helpful! I was pleased with their sincere interest in the theme of my story. Best of all, they all agreed it was indeed a tale worth telling.
The take away lesson for me: every word of dialogue is there to advance the theme of the story and unfold the plot. Aye, that is the rub.
This screenwriting thing…it looked so easy…it’s anything but. However, I am hooked.