Monday, July 30, 2012


    Sometimes a writer’s life is so full of color and drama, it can be as interesting as the story he, or she writes. Raymond Chandler comes to mind.  In my younger years I read five of Chandler’s published novels, and just recently picked up a copy of his   Spanish Blood, A Collection of Short Stories copyright 1946. Chandler's writing never fails to capture, and hold my attention. 

     Because I grew up in southern California, I liked Chandler chose   Los Angeles, and  the landscape of southern California  for  settings  in his novels – his apt description allowed me to easily picture southern California of the 1940’s, and 50's .   Not necessarily the crime and grime,   but city and environment with its street lined palm trees , stucco apartments, and  Craftsman style  homes; the great detail Chandler gave to clothing his characters wore provided a wonderful description of  fashions of the time.   Santa Monica became Bay City, Idle Valley the San Fernando Valley, and his Lady on the Lake, Big Bear Lake – all places I was familiar with, and visited many times.

      After losing his job as an oil company executive because of womanizing, drinking and threats of suicide, Chandler began writing out of desperation.  He was 44 years old, and taught himself to write reading Perry Mason crime novels by Erle Stanley Gardner, and studying their format.

    Black Mask, a popular pulp fiction magazine, published Chandler’s first story, Blackmailers Don’t Shoot in 1933; His first novel, The Big Sleep was published in 1939.

     Born in Chicago in 1888, Chandler and his mother moved to London after his father abandoned them in 1890. Chandler was never to see his father again.  Residing with his maternal grandmother Chandler was educated at Dulwich College, the same school P.G. Wodehouse and C.S. Forester attended. He spent childhood summers in Waterford, Ireland with his maternal family, and according to Wikipedia also spent time in Paris and Munich improving his foreign language skills.

     By 1913 Chandler was back in the United States, and moved to Los Angeles where he worked odd jobs stringing tennis rackets and picked fruit – most probably oranges from one of the many groves decorating the landscape at that time, and finally finding permanent employment at the Los Angeles Creamery.

    Chandler enlisted with the Canadian Expeditionary Force during World War I, upon his return he began a love affair with a woman 18 years his senior, the step-mother of his friend Gordon Pascal. Cissy Pascal and Chandler would eventually marry, and remain married until Cissy’s death in 1954.

    There are several good biographies of Raymond Chandler, including the recent The Long Embrace, Raymond Chandler And the Woman He Loved by Judith Freeman.  Another one I  highly recommend is Raymond Chandler Speaking.  Described on back cover as “a collection of fascinating letters, the legendary Raymond Chandler gives his tough –minded , idiosyncratic and always spirited  views on everything from writing, Hollywood and T.V. to crime, cats and the human condition.”

     At one time, I think even now, if I could write like anyone, it would be Raymond Chandler with his crisp, clear, succinct dialogue, and plot of story.

    In his own words he shares his thoughts on the craft of writing:

    In a letter dated Dec. 27, 1946 to Mrs. Robert J. Hogan (editor of magazine for writers, Lake Mohawk , New Jersey Chandler writes:
My experience with trying to help people to write has been limited but extremely intensive. I have done everything from giving would be writers money to live on to plotting and re-writing their stories for them, and so far I have found it to be all waste. The people whom God or nature intended to be writers find their own answers, and those who have to ask are impossible to help. They are merely people who want to be writers.”

    In another letter to Mrs. Hogan, dated March 7, 1947 he says,
Another of my oddities (and this one I believe in absolutely) is that you never quite know where your story is until you have written the first draft as raw material. What seems to be alive in it is what belongs in the story. A good story cannot be devised; it has to be distilled. In the long run, however little you talk or even think about it, the most durable thing in writing is style. , and style is the most valuable investment a writer can make with his time. It pays off slowly, your agent will sneer at it, your publisher will misunderstand it, and it will take people you have never heard of to convince them by slow degrees that the writer who puts his individual mark on the way he writes will always pay off. “

    Raymond Chandler is one of the great stylistic and profound American writers to influence popular literature – not dated, but for all time.

***NOTE: Chandler's novels  The Big Sleep,  Farewell, My Lovely, The Lady in the Lake were adapted for the movies . Chandler  also wrote scripts for movies, including  the original  screenplay The Blue Dahlia (1946) . He   collaborated on the screenplay with Alfred Hitchcock's Stranger on a Train , and co-wrote Double Indemnity (1944) with Billy Wilder - based on James M. Cain's novel of the same name.

The Raymond Chandler website

Friday, July 27, 2012

Gifts for Writers and Book Lovers

Every once in a while, we want a clever gift for a writer or for someone who loves books. There are always books about writing and Writing North Idaho has listed some of our favorites. What about beyond books?

Some suggestions for thoughtful gifts to a writer are.....
            Knit him or her a shawl or lap blanket to keep warm while working
            Gift certificate for a soothing massage
            Book of stamps
            Gift card for an e-book
            Noise canceling headphones
            Personalized book plates
            A gift basket filled with cocoa, coffee, mug, chocolates, nutrition bars, stickies
            Subscription to stock photo images site for a year if he uses pictures on his blog
            Tray for over the bathtub that holds a book and a glass
            Magazine subscription to “The New Yorker” magazine
            Blank books for ideas or a journal
            Gift certificate to a bookstore or an office supply store
            A sterling silver charm
            A bottle of her favorite wine and package of M&Ms
            Offer to walk the dog so he can write
            Offer child sitting services for several hours (at your house or the park)
            Bring over a cooked casserole or pot of homemade soup, rolls and a salad
            Deliver a bouquet of fresh flowers with wishes for good luck on his writing

Here are some links that sell unusual, charming, and fun items for writers or book lovers.

Los Angeles Public Library gift 

refrigerator magnet $4 or 
Bumper sticker $190
Page markers L.A. Public Library
Digital voice recorder  $40
Poster L.A. Library gift store
place mats L.A. Library gift store $22 or
philosopher' $16
temporary tattoos
personalized paperweight
shop-cafepress and others

Amazon books

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Olympians and Writers

The 2012 Olympics start today with soccer games. The official start and opening ceremonies are Friday, July 27, 7:30pm on NBC and other stations. (You can get an app for your iPhone or iPad to watch thousands of hours of coverage.) The games are a favorite of mine. Every two years, I sit glued to the TV in awe of these uber athletes and marvel at their years of dedication to their sport. They train hours habitually. They have to be chosen to participate in the Olympics by a committee, event personnel or by excelling via timed trials. Those steps to qualify to compete in the Olympics are certainly the bulk of the experiences necessary to be considered an Olympian. In addition to being a runner, swimmer, pole vaulter, skier, skater or gymnast, once chosen, thereafter you are always known as an Olympian. As such, you have status granted to few no matter what place you finished. Winning any medal is considered generally to be unobtainable for most of the Olympians. Participating is the real prize.

The parallels of athletes to writers seem to belong together like snow in North Dakota in December. We all can mentally visualize what an athlete of Olympic caliber goes through. The hours of usually solo training demanding concentration, learning, practice and education are immense. So too is a writer who has his book published. We are “Olympians of literature” says Sarah Allen, British blogger (

1  1.    Athletes study the correct way to exact the perfect performance. Writers take classes and read books on how to accomplish their craft.

2  2.    It takes years of practice and honing skills to be even considered for trials for the Olympics. The same holds true for writers. A writer never submits his first draft. Each person needs to hone his skills through trial, error and repetition of skills gained in order to succeed.

3  3.  Athletes and writers experience rejection and even in some instances consider themselves failures while training/writing and entering competitions.

4  4.    There are no short cuts in either endeavor.

5  5.   The swimmer logs hours daily in the pool, a skier on the slopes or a diver on the high board. The writers logs hours a day seated in a chair. All are alone in their attempts at success.

6  6.    The athlete turns to others for critique while authors are subject to the whims of editors. Both are wise to accept suggestions offered to them.

7  7.    Both sets of people need strong, dedicated hearts and persistence.

8  8.    Many experience second, or third place; all know the anguish of finishing last.

Obviously there are differences too:

1. Writing is a controlled environment. It is always a comfortable temperature with a bathroom near by. Not so in most sports. The snow is cold, the tennis court hot, the wind is blowing, the start of the race is delayed, the rain is falling, all affecting the athletes’ performances.

2. A writer does not get hurt physically. An athlete may spend months or years healing from surgeries or injuries sometimes caused by errors of others.

3. Writing has rules like sports but it has a soft criteria for “perfection,” for a “10.” A best seller is a “10” in my scoring; a place on the NYT best list of the week is also a ten. Winning a local or state writing contest also qualifies. But is my written piece perfect? There is no specific criteria for perfection in writing unlike pole vaulting, high jump or a swim race.

 “The thrill of victory, the agony of defeat,” said Jim McKay on ABC Sports. But, is that true? To me the biggest correlations between athletes and writers are that if you write only so you can be published, you will be disappointed. If you train in your sport to only win a gold medal once in four years, you will be disappointed. In writing as in sports, success is defined by you. If you write and are happy with your results, you have a “10.” If you learn your sport whether to compete or enjoy the activity, you have scored a “ten." We are all winners. 

As for me, I will not be writing during the last week of July and the first week of August. I will be glued to my TV watching others strive for perfection and podium status. I will appreciate all those athletes who don’t medal but have risen high enough in their sport to qualify at such an exalted level of competition. I will never win a Nobel prize for literature, I probably won’t have a book reach the NYT best seller list but I will have the joy in my accomplishments when I finish editing a draft for the tenth time and say, “This is good” even if I never submit the piece of writing. But I will turn handstands.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Critique Corner is Now Open!

PLEASE NOTE: Due to unforeseen circumstances, Writing North Idaho has discontinued the Critique Corner. The email account has never been accessed due to technical issues. If you submitted any stories for critique, nobody has seen them and they are not accessible to anybody. We hope this has not caused any inconveniences. 

                                            ***CRITIQUE CORNER ***
Writing North Idaho is excited to announce that a new page of our blog is "open for business." The Critique Corner bar access is found at the top of this page along with other sections of our blog. Click on it to read complete instructions on how to submit a piece for evaluation and how to submit critique of others' work. Anybody may submit a work for critique. Anybody may critique another's work but then must submit in the future one of their own pieces for comments. All names and email addresses are known only to the CC administrator and will not be revealed. Submissions and comments will be published under user names. There are no fees.

Quick Tips for Critiquing Written Works

1. Give helpful, constructive suggestions.  Do not just say, "I didn't like paragraph two" or "I didn't like your main character. " Why didn't you like them? What could be a possible improvement? Offer several solutions if you can.

2. Pair your negative comments with positive ones.

3. Critique only what the author is asking.

4. Look for: a strong opening paragraph or "hook"; correct grammar, well-defined story line; conflicts clear and appropriate; satisfying conclusion; consistent point of view; strong, believable characters; good construction; and a good balance between dialogue and description.

5. Critique the work not the author.

6. Tell the author if this genre is not your favorite but you felt x-y-z after reading the story. A fresh eye sometimes picks up inconsistencies or unclear content.

7. Write a critique as if you were reading a critique of your work. How would you feel reading the words and phrases used?

8.  Apply what you learned from critiquing others' works to your own writing.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Order from Chaos: Is there a desk under there?

The desk pictured at the top of this post is not mine.

But it might as well be.

I'm facing a horrifically daunting task today. I need to clean my desk, as well as the rest of the room where I do most of my writing. I would rather do almost anything else. (Litter box, anyone?) I have let it go on far too long, let the piles get far too high. I'm exhausted already and I haven't even started.

Most of the mess represents a failure to return things to where they belong. Reference books that I haven't returned to the shelves or to the library. Papers I have yet to deal with and toss or file. Sticky-note reminders and inspirational quotes that have become so much a part of the landscape that they no longer remind, much less inspire. Items that belong elsewhere in the house: stray earrings, photographs, vitamin bottles, recipe cards, hand lotion.

I have a writer friend who cannot write until not only her desk, but her entire home, is in order. Only after dishes are done and beds are made and mirrors are sparkling and everything is spic and span can she sit down and concentrate on her work.

If I waited until everything was in order before I wrote, I would scarcely ever write a word. Somehow I've mastered getting and staying focused in spite of the visual clutter and distraction all around me. In fact, that's a big part of my problem. I become so focused on my writing, so "in the flow" as they say, that I don't want to stop to put the book away or take the cup back to the kitchen. Then I somehow stop seeing the clutter that's right there in front of my eyes, until, like this morning, I walk into a scene out of Wall-E.

I know I will write better without all the clutter and distraction. That's what everyone tells me, anyway. So here's my plan. I'm going to devote much of this stormy Friday (the beach is out anyway, eh?) to cleaning and organizing my desk and writing room. And then I'm going to try to keep it that way for longer than the weekend. I'll make sure everything has a "home" where it belongs. And since I don't like to interrupt myself with tidying, I'll do a sweep at the end of each writing session to return things to their proper places. Then I'll start each new writing session with a fresh, clean desk, free of all clutter and distraction. I will be a lean, clean writing machine.

And calls will pour into news stations all over the Idaho Panhandle, reporting pigs in flight. Because I've never been able to maintain a neat desk for longer than a few days. I'm just not wired that way. But hope springs eternal.

How about you? Are you a clutterbug, a neat freak, or somewhere in between? How does the level of clutter (or lack thereof) affect your writing process? Come on, people, I need all the cleaning inspiration I can get!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Question of Character: Interviewing your characters for backstory and motivation

This morning I had coffee with a special person--a character in my novel! Just as with a flesh-and-blood friend, I wanted to know more about her and what makes her tick, so I invited her to meet me for coffee. I showed up with my notebook and pen, and she showed up in my imagination. We sat across the table from each other and started talking.

Now before you start thinking I'm losing my grip on reality, here's what really happened. In my writing critique group this week, I was questioned about why I'd included a certain plot device in a story I'm writing. Specifically, one of my secondary characters is keeping a secret that she doesn't reveal until near the end of the story.

"Why does she keep this a secret the whole time?" my fellow writer asked. "Why doesn't she just come out and say it early on? It would save everyone a lot of trouble."

I had a hard time answering the question, because frankly I didn't know the character's motivation for keeping the secret. I just knew that I, as the author, wanted that element of surprise. Clearly that reason wasn't good enough. I still had some work to do.

So I decided to ask the person who knew best--the character herself. I imagined her sitting across the table from me and peppered her with questions: Why are you keeping this particular secret? What do you think will happen if you tell? Are you normally a secretive person? If so, why? If not, why are you doing something out of character? I jotted her answers in my notebook. By the end of our conversation, I had a clearer understanding of her motives, plus some additional morsels of information, like how she dresses, how she sits, whether she maintains good eye contact, and how she treats the waitstaff.

If you write fiction, interviewing your characters is a great way to ferret out motivation and backstory and add richness and depth to your story. You can question them about a specific issue in the story, as I did, or just get to know them better. Here are a few good questions to start with. You might be surprised at the answers! Ask your character questions like:

What would you do if you weren't afraid?

How do you spend a typical Sunday?

What advice were you given as a young person?  Was it good or bad advice?

What myths, fables, and "old wives' tales" were handed down in your family?

What compliments have you received from people?

What are you talented at? What talents do you wish you had?

What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?

If you could have any pet in the world, what would you choose, and why?

Where have you traveled?

Who are the members of your family?

At a family reunion, who would you gravitate toward? Who would you avoid? Why?

Open your checkbook or wallet (is it full or empty?) and list your last five expenditures.

Open your calendar and read the appointments that are listed on it.

I'm sure you can think of many more questions to ask your character. The point is to spend time getting to know them, just as you would a new friend. You might open up a new plot twist, or deepen and clarify an existing one. For the sake of your story, it's time well spent.

Monday, July 16, 2012

"For a letter, timely writ, is a rivet to the chain of affection."

Whenever I enter an antique shop (which is to say, as often as I can), I make a beeline for the shelf or section that holds old books. One never knows what treasures might be discovered among the dusty tomes.

To my delight, recently I stumbled upon a charming book titled, Good Form and Social Ethics, written in 1913 by Fannie Dickerson Chase, who promises in the preface to "suggest . . . some seed that seem worthy of a place in the garden of life, that some might possibly enter upon their career with more confidence in regard to the proprieties and conventions of society: for one remains shackled by timidity till one has learned to speak and act with propriety."

With my propriety sorely in need of a good polishing, I flipped through pages Mrs. Chase's advice on topics like "Visiting Cards," "Borrowing and Returning," "Order and Neatness," and the rather stern "When Not to Laugh," in which Mrs. Chase quotes Tennyson: "He never mocks, for mockery is the fume of little hearts." (Oh, but, Mrs. Chase, it's so much fun!)

I was especially intrigued by the chapter on "Letter- and Note-Writing." When was the last time you received a nice, chatty letter in the mail? Not an e-mail, not a post on Twitter or Facebook, not even a name scrawled at the bottom of a greeting card, but an honest-to-goodness letter, with paper and ink and a stamp and everything? Writes Mrs. Chase, "A tactful, cheery note may be prized by the receiver more than a costly gift would be. Even those of the home circle often prize these tokens of affection."

If only for nostalgia's sake, why not shock a friend by sending him or her a letter today? For inspiration, here are a few of Mrs. Chase's juiciest bits of advice concerning the writing of letters, circa 1913 (note that some of it applies equally well to e-mail. Some things never change):

*Friendship letters are written for the sole purpose of giving pleasure; then one should be careful not to detract from the pleasure by illegible penmanship.

*Read over letters before answering them. (Amen.)

*Read over letters before sending them. (Ditto.)

*Use jet-black ink, and plain unruled paper or delicately tinted paper.

*Avoid beginning a letter with the pronoun I.

*Write short letters to persons upon whose time you have little claim.

*The anonymous letter is in disfavor in good society. (Blog commenters everywhere, take note.)

*If you are writing to another, avoid saying, "I am so very busy I can't take time to write more this time," for such a statement is quite likely not to carry with it the idea that the correspondence is a pleasure.

And my personal favorite:

*Refrain from writing letters expressing unkind or angry sentiments; but if you write them, never send them. 

The Letters I Have Not Sent
I have written them keen and sarcastic and long,--
With righteously wrathful intent,
Not a stroke undeserved nor a censure too strong,--
And some, alas! some of them went!

I have written them challenging, eager to fight,
All hot with a merited ire;
And some of them chanced to be kept overnight,
And mailed, the next day--in the fire!

Ah, blessed the letters that happily go
On errands of kindliness bent;
And much of my peace and my fortune I owe
To the letters I never have sent.

--Amos R. Wells

What are your thoughts on letter writing? As always, we're eager to read your comments (in black ink on delicately-tinted paper, please . . . )

Friday, July 13, 2012

2012 AP Stylebook & Guidelines for Using Numerals

The Associated Press Stylebook, billed by the publisher as “The Bible of the Newspaper Industry,” is a book I think no writer should be without. Whether you are interested in writing for the media or just adding clarity and professionalism to your writing, this manual is one book you’ll find yourself reaching for time and again once you discover the amount of solid information it contains.

The book includes an A to Z listing of guides to capitalization, abbreviation, spelling, numerals and usage; in addition specific chapter on style, punctuation, photo captions, graphics and editing.

On May 30, a new spiral-bound print edition of the book was launched. This 2012 edition includes new chapters on fashion and broadcast terms, along with a greatly expanded social media section. Retail price is $20.95 and the ISBN is 978-0-917360-56-5. Find out more about the AP Stylebook 2012 edition.


Writing numbers is challenging, and I find myself I routinely flipping open my AP Stylebook when challenged. I’ve gleaned the following information from my 2007 edition of the book to create a fairly complete list of questions I often encounter when writing numbers.

NUMERALS A numeral is a figure, letter, word or group of words expressing a number.

ROMAN NUMERALS     Roman numerals use the letters I,V,X,L,C,D and M. Use Roman numerals for wars and to show personal sequence for animals and people: World War II, Native Dancer II, king George VI, Pope John XXIII. 

     Arabic numerals use the figures, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 0. Use Arabic forms unless Roman numerals are specifically required.

Cardinal Numbers     The figures 1, 2, 3, 10, 120, etc. and the corresponding words – one, two, three, ten, one hundred twenty, etc. for spelling cardinal numbers. Spell out whole numbers below 10, use figures for 10 and above. Examples: They had three sons and two daughters. They had a fleet of 10 trucks and two buses.

Ordinal Numbers     The numbers 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 10th, 101st, etc. and the corresponding words – first, second, third, one hundred first, etc.  Spell out first through ninth when they indicate sequence in time or location: first base, the First Amendment, he was first in line. Starting with 10th, use figures. Use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. when the sequence has been assigned in forming names in geography, military and political designations such as 1st Ward, 7th Fleet and 1st Sgt. 
The following list contains separate entries for many subjects: ages, century, dates, decades, decimal units, formula, fractions, percent, ratios, sizes, telephone, temperatures, times, weights years, etc., that pertain to writing numbers. This not a complete list of the information contained in the AP Stylebook that refers to using numeric units.

    Use Arabic figures and capitalize act: Act 1: Act 2, Scene 2. But: the first act, the second act.

AIRCRAFT NAMES     Use a hyphen when changing from letters to figures; no hyphen when adding a letter after figures. Some examples: B-1, BAC-111, DC-10, F-15 Eagle, 727-100c, 47 and 747B.

BEGINNING A SENTENCE     Spell out a numeral at the beginning of a sentence. If necessary, recast the sentence. One exception: a numeral that identifies a calendar year. Wrong: 993 freshmen entered the college last year. Right: Last year 993 freshmen entered college. Right: 1976 was a very good year.

BETTING ODDS     Use figures and a hyphen: the odds were 5-4, he won despite 3-2 odds against him.

CASUAL USES     Spell out casual expressions: A thousand times no! Thanks a million. He walked a quarter of a mile.

DATES     Capitalize the names of months in all uses. When a month is used with a specific date, abbreviate only Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., and Dec. Spell out when using alone, or with a year alone. When a phrase lists only a month and a year, do not separate the year with commas. When a phrase refers to a month, day and year, set off the year with commas. EXAMPLES: January 1972 was a cold month. Jan. 2 was the coldest day of the month. His birthday was May 8. Feb. 14, 1987, was the target date. She testified that it was Friday, Dec. 3, when the accident occurred.

9/11     Sept. 11 is the preferred term to use in describing the terrorist attacks in the U.S. Sept. 11, 2001.

CENTURY     Lowercase, spelling outnumbers less than 10: the first century, the 20th century.

DECADES     Use Arabic figures to indicate decades of history. Use an apostrophe to indicate numerals that are left out; show plural by adding the letter “s:” the 1890s, the ‘90s, the Gay ‘90s, the 1920s, the mid-1930s.

DECIMALS     Use a period and numerals to indicate decimal amounts. Decimalization should not exceed two places in textual material unless there are special circumstances. For amounts less than 1, use the numeral zero before the decimal point: 0.03.

DIMENSIONS     Use figures and spell out inches, feet, yards, etc., to indicate depth, height, length and width. Hyphenate adjectival forms before nouns. EXAMPLES: He is 5 feet 6 inches tall, the 5-foot-6 man, the 5-foot man, the basketball team signed a 7-footer. The car is 17 feet long, 6 feet de and 5 feet high. The rug is 9 feet by 12 feet, the 9-by-12 rug. The storm left 5 inches of snow. Use an apostrophe to indicate feet and quote marks to indicate inches (5’6”) only in very technical contexts.

FRACTIONS     Spell out amounts less than 1 in stories, using hyphens between the words: two-thirds, four-fifths, seven-sixteenths, etc. Use figures for precise amounts larger than 1, converting to decimals whenever practical. When using fractional characters, remember that most newspaper type fonts can set only 1/2, 3/8, 3/4, as one unit; for mixed numbers, use 1 1/2, 2 5/8, etc. with a full space between the whole number and the fraction. Other fractions require a hyphen and individual figures, with a space between the whole number and the fraction; 1 3-16, 2 1-3, 5 9-10. 

LUMBER     Spell out the noun, which refers to any length of building lumber : two-by-four, which is 2 inches thick by 4 inches wide.
PAGE NUMBERS     Use figures and capitalize “page” when used with a figure. When a letter is appended to the figure, capitalize it but do not use a hyphen: Page 1. Page 10. Page 20A. One exception: It’s a Page One story.
PROPER NAMES     Use words or numerals according to an organization’s practice: 3M, Twentieth Century Fund, Big 10.

RATIOS     Use figures and hyphens: the ratio was 2-to-1, a ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio. As illustrated, the word “to” should be omitted when the numbers precede the word ratio. Always use the word ratio or a phrase such as 2-1 majority to avoid confusion with actual figures. 

ROOM NUMBERS     Use figures and capitalize room when used with a figure: Room 2, Room 211.

ROUTE NUMBERS     Do not abbreviate route. Use figures and capitalize route when used with a figure: U.S. Route 70, state Route 1A. 

SERIES     Apply the appropriate guidelines: They had 10 dogs, six cats and 97 hamsters. They had four four-room houses, 10 three-room houses and 12 10-room houses. 

TELEPHONE     Use figures. The form: 212-621-1500. Use hyphens, not periods. The form for toll-free numbers: 800-111-1000. If extension numbers are needed, use a comma to separate the main number from the extension: 212-855-2701, ext. 2.

TEMPERATURE     Use figures for all except “zero.” Use a word, not a minus sign, to indicate temperatures below zero. Right: The day’s low was minus 10. Wrong: The day’s low was -10. Right: The temperature rose to zero by noon. Right: The day’s high was expected to be 9 or 10.  Also 5-degree temperatures, temperatures fell 5 degrees, temperatures in the 30s (no apostrophe). Temperatures get higher or lower but they don’t get cooler or warmer. Wrong: Temperatures are expected to warm up in the area soon. Right: Temperatures are expected to rise in by Friday.

Celsius      When giving a Celsius temperature, use these forms: 40 degrees Celsius or 40 C (note the space and no period after the Capital C).

Fahrenheit      Use the forms: 86 degrees Fahrenheit or 86 F (note the space and no period after the F) if degrees and Fahrenheit are clear from the context.

TIME     Use figures except for noon and midnight. Do not put a 12 in front of noon or midnight. Lowercase, with periods; use a colon to separate hours from minutes: 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Avoid such redundancies as 10 a.m. this morning, 10 p.m. tonight or 20 p.m. Monday night, etc. The construction 4 o’clock is acceptable, but time listings with a.m. or p.m. are preferred. Lowercase, with periods: 5 a.m., 10:30 p.m. Avoid the redundant 10 a.m. this morning.


Act 1, Scene 2
A 5-year-old girl
DC-10; 747B
A 5-4 court decision
2nd District Court
The 1980s, the ‘80s
The House voted 230-205 (Fewer than 1,000 votes.)
Jimmy Carter defeated Gerald Ford 40,827,292 to 29,146,157. (More than 1,000 votes.)
Carter defeated Ford 10 votes to 2 votes in Little Junction. (To avoid confusion with ratio.)
No. 3 choice, but Public School 3
0.6 percent, 1 percent, 6.5 percent
A pay increase of 12 percent to 15 percent. Or: a pay increase of between 12 percent and 15 percent. Also: from $12 million to $14 million
A ratio of 2-to-1, a 2-1 ratio
A 4-3 score
(250) 262-4600
Minus 10¸zero, 60 degrees`

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Joy of Prosody

The Triolet.

By Liz Mastin 

For those of us who love poetry and the study of it, let no stone remained unturned!  However, it is such an involved study, I think its good move along and get into the fun stuff: writing poetic forms! I find them to be truly fun and very satisfying to write.

Using my book The making of a Poem; The Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms I would like to describe how to write some of the poetic forms that have been popular in past centuries and are enjoying a revival today..

The triolet is probably the easiest of the forms and so I’ll begin with it. The Triolet is a French form and while it is somewhat limited in what it can do, that limiting factor makes it all the more a challenge.  

Triolets were originally written in the Middle Ages. “The first triolets in English” according to poets Bob Holman and Margary Snyder,“were prayers written by Patrick Carey, a Benedictine monk of the 17th century. 

Robert Bridges, an English poet and critic who later was named Poet laureate and saw to the publications of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems, reintroduced the triolet into English at the end of the 19th century. Since its brief vogue back then, only a few poets have written triolets.” 

So, consider this a challenge and become one of the few to write a triolet in 2012!

 The triolet follows very exacting rules, these being:

The Triolet

It has eight lines. It is a very brief, tightly rhymed form that takes part of its structure from the repetition of entire lines.

Line 1------------------------A
Line 2 -----------------------B
Line 3------------------------a (rhymes with line 1)
Line 4------------------------A (repetition of line 1)
Line 5------------------------a (rhymes with line 1)
Line 6------------------------b (rhymes with line 2)
Line 7------------------------A (repetition of line 1)
Line 8------------------------B (repetition of line 2)

By Robert bridges

When first we met, we did not guess
That love would prove so hard a master;
Of more than common friendliness
When first we met we did not guess.
Who could foretell the sore distress,
This irretrievable disaster,
When first we met? – We did not guess
That love would prove so hard a master.

By Sara Teasdale

Dead leaves upon the stream
And dead leaves on the air –
All of my lost hopes seem
Dead leaves upon the stream;
I watch them in a dream,
Going I know not where,
Dead leaves upon the stream
And dead leaves on the air.

Hemingway Drank Here
Liz Mastin

To think that Hemingway once drank here:
Great mind in a crazy environment!
At sloppy Joes, He downed the beer.
To think that Hemingway once drank here!
To him I raise my glass of cheer
As I sit in the same establishment.
To think that Hemingway once drank here:
Great mind in a crazy environment.

Liz Mastin Bio
Liz Mastin is a poet who lives in Coeur d’ Alene, Idaho during the summer and Bullhead City, Arizona in winter. She thrives on the study of the great poets, their biographies, the schools of poetry to which they adhered, and the poetic conventions of the times in which they lived.

While she enjoys free verse as well as metrical poetry, her main interest lies in prosody. She notices that most of the enduring poems are those we can remember and recite. Liz enjoys poetry forms such as the sonnet, the sestina, the couplet, blank verse, simple quatrains, etc. and she hopes to see modern poets regain interest in studied metrical poetry.

Liz is currently putting together her first collection of poems which should be completed this winter. The poems are a mixture of metrical and free verse poems.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Reinventing Mary Jane

Where I’ve been ...

In mid-February I stopped to buy gas at a station near my home.  The owner, a friend, came rushing over and said he and some other investors were starting a community newspaper … would I like to be the editor.
This had been a dream of mine for a long time, but I knew it would take over my life.  After much soul searching, I went for it – jumping out of the fairly mundane life of freelance writer on a retirement salary – into the 60-70 hour workweek of an editor.
In the next few weeks I spent hundreds of hours learning why newspapers are in trouble today and how to format a newspaper for today’s market.  I learned the importance of the Internet to a newspaper and tips for a successful launch.
That first paper was a struggle.  We had three employees, a marketing and sales person, a graphic designer, and me.  After deciding on tabloid size and finding a printer who could print the entire paper in full color for just pennies more than conventional black and white … I had to fill the darn thing up … all 16 pages of it.
Knowing that one failing of a small newspaper is for one person to do all the writing, I begged for, and was given, a small budget each week for correspondents.  Having been one for the Spokesman-Review a couple of years ago, I knew how the organization worked, so I wrote out some guidelines and began looking for correspondents in the various small communities we were trying to reach. 
I found three writers willing to write about their local communities.   Another, one, thank God, stepped up to write the sports report each week.  That is so not my forte!
Now came the fun part.  I okayed stories for the correspondents and then began processing the news that had been collecting on my desk since we had announced we were starting a new paper.
We gave birth to the Panhandle Sun on April 4, 2012.  And, believe me, I felt like it was my baby.  We celebrated briefly then went immediately to work, fine-tuning our content, layout, circulation and delivery – and working on the next issue.
Once we began regular weekly publication, there was no time in my life for anything else.  I would never have thought I could work so many hours – I never had before in my life.  I sat behind my desk for 12 and even 14 hours each day.  I got four or five hours of sleep each night, then got up and started proofing articles or planning new ones.
Many writers, and I’m one of them, wait until the last minute to write.  (That’s why I'm working on this blog at 5 a.m. on the morning it’s due.)  And, as a freelancer, I was able to spend days, or weeks, or even months perfecting a piece before I sent it in.
Boy did I lose that safety net.
With 16 empty pages to fill each week, and an editorial staff of one, I had to churn out those stories and move on to the next.  I worked on 16 articles and briefs in one tough week.  Lesson learned.
I eventually settled into kind of a routine and realized I was still working too many hours.  I decided to sacrifice some of my salary and hire another writer to help me.  I hired a features editor, a bubbly young lady who had been a features editor for the North Idaho College newspaper.  Her "okey-dokey" to all assignments was refreshing. 
By June, things were smoothing out.  My new features editor worked about 10-12 hours each week, giving me some breathing space, and I had found several new columnists and correspondents.  I spent more time now deciding what things to leave out than what to put in, I had so much input. 
Always, though, there were financial problems and the owners eventually put us on life support.  We began publishing on a week-to-week basis through June, which was just enough additional stress that I decided (with a little nudge from both my health and my husband) – I WANT MY LIFE BACK.
So, again with much soul searching, I made a second decision about being the editor of a community newspaper, and tendered my resignation as editor of the Panhandle Sun.   My last issue will be July 18.   
Although I am stepping away, I do not feel like a failure.  In fact I am proud of the paper that I created and nurtured through its infancy.  And I am proud of myself for having taken on the adventure of becoming a newspaper editor and that I am still daring enough to try (and learn) new things. 

In fact, I always seem to reinvent myself every now and then.  I can't wait to see what I become next.

Where am I going?

Stay tuned for MJ's next adventure!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Author Events and 100 First Lines

Aunties Bookstore in Spokane has a great lineup of author events for July. Authors presenting books and slideshows include geologist Bob Weldin, geologiest-hydrologist Bruce Bjornstad, historic home preservationist Ron Tanner, former Marine and firefighter Daniel O'Rourke, healing arts professional Joseph Drumheller, and several others. Be sure to check our Events page for details.

Meanwhile, below is a list of the 100 Best First Lines from Novels posted by the American Book Review on their site. Although I know the full list makes this post run rather long, I decided to include them all because it is so interesting to read through them. They provide a helpful lesson on how to capture a reader's attention with the first words of your writing. Be sure to take a look at number 95...(and I thought I wrote long sentences!)

1. Call me Ishmael. —Herman Melville, Moby-Dick (1851)

2. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife. —Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (1813)

3. A screaming comes across the sky. —Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow (1973)

4. Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. —Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude (1967; trans. Gregory Rabassa)

5. Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. —Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (1955)

6. Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. —Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina (1877; trans. Constance Garnett)

7. riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. —James Joyce, Finnegans Wake (1939)

8. It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen. —George Orwell, 1984 (1949)

9. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair. —Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities (1859)

10. I am an invisible man. —Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952)

11. The Miss Lonelyhearts of the New York Post-Dispatch (Are you in trouble?—Do-you-need-advice?—Write-to-Miss-Lonelyhearts-and-she-will-help-you) sat at his desk and stared at a piece of white cardboard. —Nathanael West, Miss Lonelyhearts (1933)

12. You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter. —Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

13. Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything truly wrong, he was arrested. —Franz Kafka, The Trial (1925; trans. Breon Mitchell)

14. You are about to begin reading Italo Calvino's new novel, If on a winter's night a traveler. —Italo Calvino, If on a winter's night a traveler (1979; trans. William Weaver)

15. The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett, Murphy (1938)

16. If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you'll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don't feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth. —J. D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye (1951)

17. Once upon a time and a very good time it was there was a moocow coming down along the road and this moocow that was coming down along the road met a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo. —James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

18. This is the saddest story I have ever heard. —Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier (1915)

19. I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me; had they duly considered how much depended upon what they were then doing;—that not only the production of a rational Being was concerned in it, but that possibly the happy formation and temperature of his body, perhaps his genius and the very cast of his mind;—and, for aught they knew to the contrary, even the fortunes of his whole house might take their turn from the humours and dispositions which were then uppermost:—Had they duly weighed and considered all this, and proceeded accordingly,—I am verily persuaded I should have made a quite different figure in the world, from that, in which the reader is likely to see me. —Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy (1759–1767)

20. Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show. —Charles Dickens, David Copperfield (1850)

21. Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. —James Joyce, Ulysses (1922)

22. It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents, except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the house-tops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness. —Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, Paul Clifford (1830)

23. One summer afternoon Mrs. Oedipa Maas came home from a Tupperware party whose hostess had put perhaps too much kirsch in the fondue to find that she, Oedipa, had been named executor, or she supposed executrix, of the estate of one Pierce Inverarity, a California real estate mogul who had once lost two million dollars in his spare time but still had assets numerous and tangled enough to make the job of sorting it all out more than honorary. —Thomas Pynchon, The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)

24. It was a wrong number that started it, the telephone ringing three times in the dead of night, and the voice on the other end asking for someone he was not. —Paul Auster, City of Glass (1985)

25. Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting. —William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury (1929)

26. 124 was spiteful. —Toni Morrison, Beloved (1987)

27. Somewhere in la Mancha, in a place whose name I do not care to remember, a gentleman lived not long ago, one of those who has a lance and ancient shield on a shelf and keeps a skinny nag and a greyhound for racing. —Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote (1605; trans. Edith Grossman)

28. Mother died today. —Albert Camus, The Stranger (1942; trans. Stuart Gilbert)

29. Every summer Lin Kong returned to Goose Village to divorce his wife, Shuyu. —Ha Jin, Waiting (1999)

30. The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel. —William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

31. I am a sick man . . . I am a spiteful man. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Notes from Underground (1864; trans. Michael R. Katz)

32. Where now? Who now? When now? —Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable (1953; trans. Patrick Bowles)

33. Once an angry man dragged his father along the ground through his own orchard. "Stop!" cried the groaning old man at last, "Stop! I did not drag my father beyond this tree." —Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans (1925)

34. In a sense, I am Jacob Horner. —John Barth, The End of the Road (1958)

35. It was like so, but wasn't. —Richard Powers, Galatea 2.2 (1995)

36. —Money . . . in a voice that rustled. —William Gaddis, J R (1975)

37. Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself. —Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (1925)

38. All this happened, more or less. —Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five (1969)

39. They shoot the white girl first. —Toni Morrison, Paradise (1998)

40. For a long time, I went to bed early. —Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913; trans. Lydia Davis)

41. The moment one learns English, complications set in. —Felipe Alfau, Chromos (1990)

42. Dr. Weiss, at forty, knew that her life had been ruined by literature. —Anita Brookner, The Debut (1981)

43. I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane; —Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

44. Ships at a distance have every man's wish on board. —Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937)

45. I had the story, bit by bit, from various people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a different story. —Edith Wharton, Ethan Frome (1911)

46. Ages ago, Alex, Allen and Alva arrived at Antibes, and Alva allowing all, allowing anyone, against Alex's admonition, against Allen's angry assertion: another African amusement . . . anyhow, as all argued, an awesome African army assembled and arduously advanced against an African anthill, assiduously annihilating ant after ant, and afterward, Alex astonishingly accuses Albert as also accepting Africa's antipodal ant annexation.  —Walter Abish, Alphabetical Africa (1974)

47. There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. —C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)

48. He was an old man who fished alone in a skiff in the Gulf Stream and he had gone eighty-four days now without taking a fish. —Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea (1952)

49. It was the day my grandmother exploded. —Iain M. Banks, The Crow Road (1992)

50. I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. —Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex (2002)

51. Elmer Gantry was drunk. —Sinclair Lewis, Elmer Gantry (1927)

52. We started dying before the snow, and like the snow, we continued to fall. —Louise Erdrich, Tracks (1988)

53. It was a pleasure to burn. —Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 (1953)

54. A story has no beginning or end; arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead. —Graham Greene, The End of the Affair (1951)

55. Having placed in my mouth sufficient bread for three minutes' chewing, I withdrew my powers of sensual perception and retired into the privacy of my mind, my eyes and face assuming a vacant and preoccupied expression. —Flann O'Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

56. I was born in the Year 1632, in the City of York, of a good Family, tho' not of that Country, my Father being a Foreigner of Bremen, who settled first at Hull; He got a good Estate by Merchandise, and leaving off his Trade, lived afterward at York, from whence he had married my Mother, whose Relations were named Robinson, a very good Family in that Country, and from whom I was called Robinson Kreutznaer; but by the usual Corruption of Words in England, we are now called, nay we call our selves, and write our Name Crusoe, and so my Companions always call'd me. —Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe (1719)

57. In the beginning, sometimes I left messages in the street. —David Markson, Wittgenstein's Mistress (1988)

58. Miss Brooke had that kind of beauty which seems to be thrown into relief by poor dress.
—George Eliot, Middlemarch (1872)

59. It was love at first sight. —Joseph Heller, Catch-22 (1961)

60. What if this young woman, who writes such bad poems, in competition with her husband, whose poems are equally bad, should stretch her remarkably long and well-made legs out before you, so that her skirt slips up to the tops of her stockings? —Gilbert Sorrentino, Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things (1971)

61. I have never begun a novel with more misgiving. —W. Somerset Maugham, The Razor's Edge (1944)

62. Once upon a time, there was a woman who discovered she had turned into the wrong person. —Anne Tyler, Back When We Were Grownups (2001)

63. The human race, to which so many of my readers belong, has been playing at children's games from the beginning, and will probably do it till the end, which is a nuisance for the few people who grow up. —G. K. Chesterton, The Napoleon of Notting Hill (1904)

64. In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I've been turning over in my mind ever since. —F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

65. You better not never tell nobody but God. —Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1982)

66. "To be born again," sang Gibreel Farishta tumbling from the heavens, "first you have to die." —Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses (1988)

67. It was a queer, sultry summer, the summer they electrocuted the Rosenbergs, and I didn't know what I was doing in New York. —Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar (1963)

68. Most really pretty girls have pretty ugly feet, and so does Mindy Metalman, Lenore notices, all of a sudden. —David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System (1987)

69. If I am out of my mind, it's all right with me, thought Moses Herzog. —Saul Bellow, Herzog (1964)

70. Francis Marion Tarwater's uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. —Flannery O'Connor, The Violent Bear it Away (1960)

71. Granted: I am an inmate of a mental hospital; my keeper is watching me, he never lets me out of his sight; there's a peephole in the door, and my keeper's eye is the shade of brown that can never see through a blue-eyed type like me. —GŸnter Grass, The Tin Drum (1959; trans. Ralph Manheim)

72. When Dick Gibson was a little boy he was not Dick Gibson. —Stanley Elkin, The Dick Gibson Show (1971)

73. Hiram Clegg, together with his wife Emma and four friends of the faith from Randolph Junction, were summoned by the Spirit and Mrs. Clara Collins, widow of the beloved Nazarene preacher Ely Collins, to West Condon on the weekend of the eighteenth and nineteenth of April, there to await the End of the World. —Robert Coover, The Origin of the Brunists (1966)

74. She waited, Kate Croy, for her father to come in, but he kept her unconscionably, and there were moments at which she showed herself, in the glass over the mantel, a face positively pale with the irritation that had brought her to the point of going away without sight of him. —Henry James, The Wings of the Dove (1902)

75. In the late summer of that year we lived in a house in a village that looked across the river and the plain to the mountains. —Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms (1929)

76. "Take my camel, dear," said my Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from this animal on her return from High Mass. —Rose Macaulay, The Towers of Trebizond (1956)

77. He was an inch, perhaps two, under six feet, powerfully built, and he advanced straight at you with a slight stoop of the shoulders, head forward, and a fixed from-under stare which made you think of a charging bull.  —Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim (1900)

78. The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.  —L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between (1953)

79. On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. —Russell Hoban, Riddley Walker (1980)

80. Justice?—You get justice in the next world, in this world you have the law. —William Gaddis, A Frolic of His Own (1994)

81. Vaughan died yesterday in his last car-crash. —J. G. Ballard, Crash (1973)

82. I write this sitting in the kitchen sink. —Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)

83. "When your mama was the geek, my dreamlets," Papa would say, "she made the nipping off of noggins such a crystal mystery that the hens themselves yearned toward her, waltzing around her, hypnotized with longing." —Katherine Dunn, Geek Love (1983)

84. In the last years of the Seventeenth Century there was to be found among the fops and fools of the London coffee-houses one rangy, gangling flitch called Ebenezer Cooke, more ambitious than talented, and yet more talented than prudent, who, like his friends-in-folly, all of whom were supposed to be educating at Oxford or Cambridge, had found the sound of Mother English more fun to game with than her sense to labor over, and so rather than applying himself to the pains of scholarship, had learned the knack of versifying, and ground out quires of couplets after the fashion of the day, afroth with Joves and Jupiters, aclang with jarring rhymes, and string-taut with similes stretched to the snapping-point. —John Barth, The Sot-Weed Factor (1960)

85. When I finally caught up with Abraham Trahearne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon.  —James Crumley, The Last Good Kiss (1978)

86. It was just noon that Sunday morning when the sheriff reached the jail with Lucas Beauchamp though the whole town (the whole county too for that matter) had known since the night before that Lucas had killed a white man. —William Faulkner, Intruder in the Dust (1948)

87. I, Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as "Claudius the Idiot," or "That Claudius," or "Claudius the Stammerer," or "Clau-Clau-Claudius" or at best as "Poor Uncle Claudius," am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the "golden predicament" from which I have never since become disentangled. —Robert Graves, I, Claudius (1934)

88. Of all the things that drive men to sea, the most common disaster, I've come to learn, is women. —Charles Johnson, Middle Passage (1990)

89. I am an American, Chicago born—Chicago, that somber city—and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent. —Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March (1953)

90. The towers of Zenith aspired above the morning mist; austere towers of steel and cement and limestone, sturdy as cliffs and delicate as silver rods. —Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt (1922)

91. I will tell you in a few words who I am: lover of the hummingbird that darts to the flower beyond the rotted sill where my feet are propped; lover of bright needlepoint and the bright stitching fingers of humorless old ladies bent to their sweet and infamous designs; lover of parasols made from the same puffy stuff as a young girl's underdrawers; still lover of that small naval boat which somehow survived the distressing years of my life between her decks or in her pilothouse; and also lover of poor dear black Sonny, my mess boy, fellow victim and confidant, and of my wife and child. But most of all, lover of my harmless and sanguine self. —John Hawkes, Second Skin (1964)

92. He was born with a gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad. —Raphael Sabatini, Scaramouche (1921)

93. Psychics can see the color of time it's blue. —Ronald Sukenick, Blown Away (1986)

94. In the town, there were two mutes and they were always together. —Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940)

95. Once upon a time two or three weeks ago, a rather stubborn and determined middle-aged man decided to record for posterity, exactly as it happened, word by word and step by step, the story of another man for indeed what is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal, a somewhat paranoiac fellow unmarried, unattached, and quite irresponsible, who had decided to lock himself in a room a furnished room with a private bath, cooking facilities, a bed, a table, and at least one chair, in New York City, for a year 365 days to be precise, to write the story of another person—a shy young man about of 19 years old—who, after the war the Second World War, had come to America the land of opportunities from France under the sponsorship of his uncle—a journalist, fluent in five languages—who himself had come to America from Europe Poland it seems, though this was not clearly established sometime during the war after a series of rather gruesome adventures, and who, at the end of the war, wrote to the father his cousin by marriage of the young man whom he considered as a nephew, curious to know if he the father and his family had survived the German occupation, and indeed was deeply saddened to learn, in a letter from the young man—a long and touching letter written in English, not by the young man, however, who did not know a damn word of English, but by a good friend of his who had studied English in school—that his parents both his father and mother and his two sisters one older and the other younger than he had been deported they were Jewish to a German concentration camp Auschwitz probably and never returned, no doubt having been exterminated deliberately X * X * X * X, and that, therefore, the young man who was now an orphan, a displaced person, who, during the war, had managed to escape deportation by working very hard on a farm in Southern France, would be happy and grateful to be given the opportunity to come to America that great country he had heard so much about and yet knew so little about to start a new life, possibly go to school, learn a trade, and become a good, loyal citizen. —Raymond Federman, Double or Nothing (1971)

96. Time is not a line but a dimension, like the dimensions of space. —Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye (1988)

97. He—for there could be no doubt of his sex, though the fashion of the time did something to disguise it—was in the act of slicing at the head of a Moor which swung from the rafters. —Virginia Woolf, Orlando (1928)

98. High, high above the North Pole, on the first day of 1969, two professors of English Literature approached each other at a combined velocity of 1200 miles per hour. —David Lodge, Changing Places (1975)

99. They say when trouble comes close ranks, and so the white people did. —Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

100. The cold passed reluctantly from the earth, and the retiring fogs revealed an army stretched out on the hills, resting. —Stephen Crane, The Red Badge of Courage (1895)

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Have a wonderful weekend!