Jun 30

A Title I Couldn’t Resist

I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my copy of Welcome to Hell : A Working Guide for the Beginning Writer by Tom Piccirilli from PaperbackSwap.com. I just could not resist the title. I figure he knows what he’s talking about, and it sounds like he is willing to be more honest than some others I have read.

By the way, if you don’t know about PaperbackSwap, check it out. Post 10 books and get a credit for a free book of your choice from the more than 500,000 posted.

After that. you can buy credits for $10.35 for 3 (discounts if you more at a time) or you get a credit for each book a member requests from you.

Paperback books cost $2.31 to mail (Media Mail with e-Confirm) using the PBS label that you print. You also have to deposit money with them, because PBS takes $0.27 for each book you mail. Not a bad deal, since an awful lot of books are hardbacks.

I have expenaded my reference collection with a lot of quality titles I couldn’t afford to buy. I have also filled out my Holly Lisle collection. It is now almost complete. Just a couple of the Hell on High series lacking, and they’re on my Wish List.

By the way, again, if you join using my link, I’ll get a book credit (hint, hint).

Their sister site is SwapaCD.com. Same deal, basically, only music, and you take a chance on condition with used CDs.

Jun 29

Friday Snippet — And Now For Something Completely Different…

I’ve posted a lot of serious stuff since I started participating in the Friday Snippet Meme, so I thought I’d change it up a little this week.

This snippet is the unfinished Chapter One from my own personal “secret project”. I won’t tell you the working title. Let’s just say it’s one of those “Best Title Ever” entries. Enjoy.

Copyright (c) Carter Nipper. Unfinished rough draft. Watch your step.


When I got to the County Jail, Sandy was sitting in one of the hard plastic chairs along the wall of the lobby. One advantage of living in a small town is that everybody knows everybody else, and you can often stretch the rules to the breaking point. I waved as I walked in, but I didn’t say anything. I needed to make her bail and get her the Hell out of there.

Her mouth was turned down at the corners, lips pressed into a hard white line. Her eyebrows scrunched down toward the bridge of her nose, and the ridges on her forehead reminded me of a heavy overcast on a winter day. She had herself in a bear hug and her legs crossed, right over left. Her right foot swung free, more of a kicking motion than swinging, actually. That foot was a pendulum, ticking off the seconds, and I needed to get her out of there before that particular clock struck midnight.

I signed the receipt, grabbed her purse, and turned in time to see her reach the front door. I was glad they had used shatter-proof glass. I looked at Dana Coffee, the deputy on duty, and shrugged a little bit. She grinned and gave that little bye-bye finger wave.

Sandy was standing by the truck tapping that foot. I got her inside and closed the door myself. I saw her slam a car door so hard one time the glass shattered. I took my time getting around to the driver’s seat and getting the truck cranked up. I had to consider which road to take to get home. The fastest way went right by Rusty’s Wings & Things. At this point, I was pretty sure Rusty would drop the charges after a day or two. Him and Wanda and me and Sandy went all the way back to high school, after all. I didn’t want to take a chance on aggravating him by riding by with Sandy hanging out the window Yelling cuss words and shooting him the bird with both hands. The long way around it was.

Now, I don’t want anybody getting the idea that Sandy was a violent person. She was the sweetest baby-doll you’d ever want to meet. She claimed she was five feet tall, but I think she was standing on tip-toes. The only time she ever topped a hundred pounds was when she was pregnant with Danny, Junior, so she wasn’t physically intimidating. The thing was, though, when Sandy got mad, she got mad all the way. She didn’t believe in holding back. I think she got that from being the youngest of five children. She had to learn to fight for whatever she wanted.

Once we got home and she got settled on the couch, I felt like it was safe to talk.

“Damn, baby. What the Hell?” I had an idea already, but I figured she was better off talking about it.

“How long have we been getting wings from Rusty’s on Friday night. Three years?”

“That sounds right.”

“And how many times out of that maybe hundred and fifty times have they fucked up our order? Fifty, at least. It’s not rocket science for God’s sake! Ten mild for me, ten medium or hot for you. How can you fuck that up?”

We both knew the answer to that question. Rusty’s counter help were always young and cute, but they invariably had the IQ of a pine cone. That’s because the smart ones wouldn’t stay after closing and help him “balance the registers”. Everybody knew that. Small town, again. I never figured out why Wanda let him get away with that shit. It’s not like he was making them rich with a wing shack.

“What was it this time? I mean, you have to expect it by now.”

“I don’t know. It’s like somebody lit a flare in my head. I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Goddamn a bunch of stupid people, anyway!”

I put my arms around her and let her sob. Time to make that appointment. This was one step too far. Being pregnant had made her crazy, that’s for sure. I never knew when Bad Sandy would come out to play during those months, but that was nothing compared to this. You see, Sandy was developing a hormone imbalance. To be blunt, she was going through the Change of Life, the Big M, Menopause. A little early, maybe, but we weren’t spring chickens anymore.

“Sandy, I think it’s time to call the doctor. You have to get help with this before you kill somebody. He can give you some kind of hormones or something, can’t he?”

“Yeah. I’ll call him tomorrow.”

I was in the process of finding out why so many men my age go for twenty-something trophy wives. They figure the chances are pretty good they’ll be dead by the time their honeys start the Change. They say hurricanes and tornadoes are unpredictable. Hell, they got nothing on menopausal women. The best forecast I could hope for just then was stormy with a chance of Armageddon. At least I was finally able to practice those duck-and-cover skills we learned back in grammar school.

I guessed I’d be the one picking up the wings from now on.

Jun 28

Arthur and Mordred and Morgan Le Fay

I was sitting in the local coffee shop reading the cards this morning, and they showed me an Arthurian undercurrent in Washed in the Blood.  I am pleased by this development.

My fascination with and love for the Arthurian Cycle goes all the way back to The Sword in the Stone (the movie, not the book, as I was too young to read something so ambitious at the time).Good old Walt Disney was good for me.

I had vague plans for writing something along the lines of Arthur in the Modern World at some point, so it looks like this may be it.  My subconscious has been pushing me along in this direction all along, but I just did not realize it.  That has been the cause of agood many of my problems along the way.

Pay attention to your Muse.  She knows what she is doing.

Jun 27

The Bad, The Worse, and The Weird

The latest search query harvest for carternipper.com yielded the following:

1) “simple secrets to becoming a writer” — Simple, OK, secret, not so much.  To become a writer, you must:

  • Write.  Write until your fingers bleed, write until your eyes dry out. Write until you can’t write anymore, until you’re sick of writing, until you will scream if you ever have towrite another word . Then write some more.
  • Read. Read everything.  Read anything, even cereal boxes.  Read until your eyes fall out, then pick them up, plug them back in, and read more.
  • Listen and Learn. You don’t know everything   As a matter of fact, you can’t assume you know anything.  Listen to those who know and learn from them.
  • Then write some more.

2) “angels fuck” — Do they?  Hmmmm. A story idea there…

3) “oh broke pain mouth filled” — Uhhhh, what? Go away!

4) “how to get the most from what you read” — Easy: PAY ATTENTION!!

5) “morons in charge” — Yeah.  No shit.

6) “puppets in the attic” — Another story idea.  Thanks guys! Your weirness is one of my best sources for inspiration. Keep ’em coming.

Jun 25

On the Go, or Just a Pinch?

Your Score: Dash

You scored 7% Sociability and 52% Sophistication!

  There’s no denying that you have a certain flair. You don’t mind being around others, especially your little brother, the hyphen, but you rarely emerge except when needed. You respond well to those who know how to treat you, but have only contempt for those who don’t–you tend to embarass them every chance you get. Your only enemy is the colon–he will sometimes try to move in on your turf.

Link: The Which Punctuation Mark Are You Test written by Gazda on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Actually, I thought I was a colon. Heh.

Link via tambowrites.  Go by and wish her a Happy Birthday.

Jun 25

Workin’ For The Man Every Night and Day*

Holly Lisle’s Create A Plot Clinic has been an absolute God-send for my work on Washed in the Blood.  The 5 Questions exercise (“Tool 1: Question” — pp. 40-44 in my version) has opened up new vistas for me.  At last, I understand my villain — who he is, how he got to be what he is, and why he is doing these horrible things.  I have discovered new characters, eliminated one, and discovered a secret that makes Maggie a lot more human and another, previously minor, character a vital piece of the story.

If you need help with plotting, as I sure as Hell do, this book will blast your mind open, wake up your Muse and shake her by the shoulders, and get your ass moving.

In my previous post on this subject, I mentioned that I would explore using Liquid Story Binder software to help with organizing the novel.  Developments on that end have led me away from that idea.  After trying out some other software, I can see that the old-fashioned way still suits me best.

OpenOffice does everything I need to do.  Combined with paper, notebooks, sticky notes, and index cards, I think I am set for now.  The line-for-scene is going well, as is concurrent writing (I have to get at least a skeleton of some of these scenes down while they’re hot).

Nearly 22,500 words so far.  It doesn’t sound likemuch, but it looks like the first draft will come in at around 35-40K.  Way short (right now, I’m averaging 567 word per scene.  Ugh.), but I can already see (and am making note of) a lot of room for expansion.  Maybe this thing can fly after all.

*If you can’t identify the source of the title of this post, you need to review your cultural education.  🙂

Jun 22

Friday Snippet — When the Wind Blows

This is the first part (about half at this point) of a short story tentatively named “When the Wind Blows”. This story is about Bipolar II Disorder and its effects, a subject that has become very dear to my heart lately.

The usual caveats: this work is copyright (c) Carter Nipper, it is rough draft, contains errors of various sorts, and is not in final form.


Will Harper hated days like this. These were the ones his Momma never told him about. “Mixed state” his psychiatrist called it. What the Hell did that idiot know about it? A brutal mixture of hurricane and tornado was what it was. These days always started with a minor irritation, then another, then another — a cat meowing, a dog underfoot, his wife bitching about something or other. After about three of these, he would blow — a pillar of Holy fire, an H-bomb, a Krakatoa truly out of proportion to the situation. Just as quickly, he would fall, meteoric, into the deepest pit of depression, a depth he had not even known existed when had merely had Major Depression. It was all his doctor’s fault — cutting back the anti-depressives while waiting for the Lamictal to kick in. That’s when this had all started.”Bipolar II Disorder,” his doctor had said. “Crazy” was what Will heard. A death sentence.The doctor tried to reassure him, but Will knew about Bipolar. His mother had been Bipolar. When Will was ten, she had stripped her gears and took a short step off a tall bridge. He knew Bipolar. He would not end up like that. Maybe dead — he had a plan for emergencies — but not crazy.Will managed to get away from the house before he actually hurt anybody or broke anything and headed for the Serenity Spot they had set up in a shady area out of sight of the house. There, he managed to get his temper cooled down only so he could get the full evil benefit of the swirling thoughts. They raced by, thumbing their noses at him, always just out of reach, laughing at his feeble attempts to grab them. The thoughts were confetti swirled by the great winds that blew through his mind, a confusion of distraction. His own voice, and others, called from the depths of his brain — pleading, shouting, laughing, orating great words he could not hear.This was the worst time of all, the time when he stood on the edge of insanity with the wind howling at his back and looked into the abyss. His own tortured eyes looked back, daring him to jump, begging him to jump, to relieve the pain in oblivious psychosis.

He was tempted, oh, how he was tempted, but he would not jump. He refused to consider living a slowly wasting death entombed in brick and steel. Will knew what those places were like, he had been inside them before, worked there as an attendant. He had seen them, those people, had heard the sounds they made. He swore he would never go back. He would die first.

He kept his gun loaded, hidden in a hollow of the massive oak tree behind the bench he sat on, wrapped in oilcloth and sealed in a Ziploc bag. The hiding place was high enough that his wife could not reach it, and he knew he could get to the gun in time, if he needed it. He tried to consider his options, his condition, but the confusion was too much. His mind roared, heaved, overwhelming any semblance of rationality in a whirlwind that most certainly did not contain the voice of God.

Gradually, reluctantly, the tumult subsided, and he was left with only depression as his refuge, the deep, black, bruised bottom of the Pit. By that time, he was too weary, too wrung out to even think about suicide, or even care. Knowing the worst was over, he heaved himself to his feet. His body was stone, his feet lead. He could barely move against the inertia and the weight of the darkness. Slowly, painfully, he trudged toward home and a new bout with the Devil.

#

Carrie frowned as he entered the house and moved toward his recliner, his haven. “I need you to look at my car,” she said. “It’s making that noise again.”

“Not now, please.” He could barely talk, it was a struggle to breathe. He collapsed into the chair and leaned back. She stared at him, hands on hips, and her lips tightened. He knew what she was thinking, and he agreed with her. He really was the most worthless human breathing the world’s precious air. A tear leaked from the corner of his eye, and he tried to wipe it away without her seeing what he was doing — a quick swipe, like he was swatting a fly.

“When, then?” Her voice was hard; her words rocks flung against his face.

“Not now, Carrie.” The tears came, and he couldn’t hold them back. “Oh, God, not now. I can’t.” He rolled onto his side, facing the wall, covered his face with his hands, and wept. Sometime in that eternal day, the infernal evening, he fell asleep

#

“You can’t go to work like this.” Carrie stood in his way, wouldn’t let him out the door. “Hell, yesterday, you couldn’t even get out of that chair of yours. You won’t help with housework, you won’t do your yard work, how in the Hell do you expect to do your job?”

At least today, he was only depressed. Apathetic, lethargic, but now psychotic. That was a blessing. Some blessing.

“I have to, Carrie. You know that. I’m out of vacation time, and my sick time is down to less than 10 hours. I need to keep that in case of a really bad day. I have to go back and build up some more time. How would we live if I got fired? That’s half our income, and things are tight as it is. I have to go. I’ll just have to fake it.”

“Good luck with that!” She moved out of the doorway, walked away without even a “Good-bye”. Will sighed and pulled his car keys off the hook by the door.

(to be continued at a later date)

Jun 21

Pass the Hemlock, Please

Your Score: The Oracle

33% Extroversion, 80% Intuition, 44% Emotiveness, 90% Perceptiveness

  Heuristic, detached, and analytical to a fualt, you are most like The Oracle. You are able to tackle any subject with a fine toothed comb, and you possess an ability to pinpoint nuances and shades of meaning that other people do not have and cannot understand. Accomplishment and realization of ideas are, for you, secondary to the rigorous exploration of ideas and questions — you are, first and foremost, a theorist. You hate authority, convention, tradition, and under no circumstances do you accept a leadership role (although, you will gladly advise leadership when they’re going astray, whether they want you to or not). Abstraction and generalities are your interests, details and particulars are usually inconsequential and uninteresting. You excel at language, mathematics and philosophy.

You are typically easy-going and non-confrontational until someone violates one of the very few principles that you deem sacred, at which point you can fly into a rage. Although you possess a much greater understanding of process and systems than the people around you, you are always conscious of the possibility that you’ve missed something or made a mistake. You don’t tend to become attached to particular theories, and will immediately discard mistaken notions once they’re revealed to be incorrect (but you don’t tolerate iconoclasts who try to discredit validated theories through the use of fallacies and bad data). Despite being outwardly humble, you probably think of yourself as being smarter than most other people. That’s because you are. In fact, in your dealings with people your understanding of their motives is so expansive that you know what they’re going to say before they say it, and in world affairs, you usually know what is going to take place before it actually does. This ability would make you unbeatable in debates if only you were a little less pensive about your own conclusions, and a little more outgoing.

Famous people like you: Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson, John McWhorter, Ramanujan, Marie Curie, Kurt Godel

Stay clear of: Apollo, Icarus, Hermes, Aphrodite

Seek out: Atlas, Prometheus, Daedalus

Link: The Greek Mythology Personality Test written by Aleph_Nine on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Link courtesy of Jean.