Tuesdays with Story
Quote of the Week
‘If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.’ – Isaac Asimov
The Power of Non-Fiction and the Importance of Marketing
Tuesday, February 14, was the first anniversary of the start of the Wisconsin Protests. John Nichols, a local journalist with national credentials (and a talented writer), has published a book, Uprising: How Wisconsin Renewed the Politics of Protest, from Madison to Wall Street. I thought I’d pick up a copy Tuesday evening before the meeting. I looked, but there was nothing on the “New and Noteworthy Table,” nothing in the “Wisconsin” section. I asked the person manning the information desk if they had it. He hung his head and said sheepishly, “We sold out, and people have been asking about it all day. We should have ordered more. We have more – a bunch more – coming in soon.” I thanked him and turned away, just as another patron came up behind me and said, “Do you have John Nichols’ new book?”
Behold – the power of writing – if you can get the store to stock your book!
Tuesday Night at the Bookstore
Despite Tuesday being Valentine’s Day, seven of us appeared at BN, acknowleged “Singles Awareness Day” for the unattached in our group, and set down to work.
Terry Hoffman read a scene from The Great Tome. Jack felt like we didn’t get a good picture of Ace. The descriptions in the chapter were very contrary. Carol thought the contrariness worked because Ace is looking for the book but being sneaky about it. Jack then suggested putting the elegant suggestions of Ace in the past, and focus on her dishevled change – that would lead Rachel toward wondering just what it is Ace is looking for. Liam felt there were too many descriptions of her clothing, and that was puzzling. Andrea really enjoyed the tension set up by the reader knowing what Ace was looking for but Rachel being a step behind.
Liam Wilbur presented a scene from The Fog-Gotten. Andrea focused on the paragraph about a character called The General and said she wanted to see that scene play out, instead of just being told about it. Jack wanted a bit more of an explanation regarding the language barrier and how they are able, in fact, to communicate. Carol really liked the rhythm of the broken/odd English dialect that the characters are using. All agreed, though, that it is time for the main character to stop passivly observing and get active in moving the story forward.
Jack Freiburger brought back the start of a story called Jesus Walked into The IHOP. Liam really liked the idea of Jesus being a hippie/homeless person. Andrea felt a bit more of a transition was needed before flashing back with the terrific line, “Getting killed had taken a lot out of him.” Terry thought the description of John needed to be moved up sooner for the reader before a picture is already set in their mind. She also wondered if Jesus’ feet were cold, since he’s wearing sandals and it’s clearly winter outside. Carol was intrigued by the idea that Jesus couldn’t read – he learned by listening.
Carol Hornung read a scene from Sapphire Lodge. Jack wanted to know how much Saffi knew about the relationship between Finley and the Braxtons – wouldn’t she want to know why he’s trying to avoid them? Katelin said that Saffi allows him into her apartment too soon – if there was some discussion about the Braxtons and why they are a threat, she’d probably hesitate, then offer him refuse in her apartment with mixed feelings. Terry indicated a point of view issue where Finley was being described then colors that Saffi saw suddenly popped up. Also, Saffi going to the fridge to get a soda is either becoming a major writing crutch or she has a serious caffeine addiction!
Who’s up next . . .
February 21: Kim Simmons (chapter 2, City of Autumn), Rebecca Rettenmund (chapter 4, The Cheese Logue), Liam Wilbur (???, Scott & Rory), Millie Mader (chapter 32, Life on Hold), Judith McNeil (more of “The Waldorf Hysteria”), and Clayton Gill (chapter, Fishing Derby).
February 28: Holly Bonnicksen-Jones (Coming Up For Air), Terry Hoffman (The Great Tome), Jack Freiburger (Jesus Walked into the IHOP), Andrea Kirchman (Pip Zin).
March 6: Greg Spry (chapter 18, Beyond Cloud 9), John Schneller (chapter 12, Final Stronghold), Aaron Boehm (???), Amber Boudreau (chapter 3 rewrite, Noble), Lisa McDougal (???, Tebow Family Secret Recipe), and Jerry Peterson (chapter 24, Thou Shalt Not Murder).
March 13: Carol Hornung (Sapphire Lodge), Katelin Cummins (???), Liam Wilbur (The Fog-Gotten)
Newsletter editors . . .
Carol Hornung is our editor for February. Please send all the good stuff you want in the newsletter to her.
Lisa McDougal is our editor for March. Volunteers needed for April and beyond!
More on Charles Dickens:
Dickens and language . . .
William Shakespeare made up/created a number of words that became English standards. Charles Dickens, whose 200th birthday we celebrate this week, created characters whose names are a part of our language. Here we go, courtesy of Wordsmith Anu Garg:
The London of Dickens’s time was a bleak place: little social support, debtor’s prisons, pollution, and children working in factories.
If you look at the Republican presidential aspirants today, you’d think they want to return to those good old times: no environmental regulations; no worker protection laws; no social safety net; and children working as janitors.
As a child Charles himself was forced to work in a boot polish factory. All that he saw around him and experienced is reflected in his novels. It’s a sign of an author’s genius when his characters step out of the stories and become words in the language. Dozens of Dickens’s characters are now part of the English language. Meet five of them.
MEANING: noun: An expression involving a familiar proverb or quotation and its facetious sequel. It usually comprises three parts: statement, speaker, situation.
“We’ll have to rehearse that,” said the undertaker as the coffin fell out of the car.
“Prevention is better than cure,” said the pig when it ran away from the butcher.
“So far, so good,” said the escapee as he looked at the prison in the distance.
“Beauty is only skin deep,” said the woman as she received a Botox injection.ETYMOLOGY: After Sam Weller and his father, characters known for such utterances in Charles Dickens’s novel Pickwick Papers. Earliest documented use: 1839.
USAGE: “A particularly telling example of a wellerism discussed by Dundes is the following:
‘Shall I sit awhile?’ says the parasite before becoming a permanent dweller.”
Wolfgang Mieder; Alan Dundes; Western Folklore (Long Beach, California); Jul 2006.
MEANING: noun: One who trains others, especially children, in crime.
ETYMOLOGY: After Fagin, the leader of a gang of pickpockets, in Charles Dickens’s novel Oliver Twist. Oliver runs away from the cruelty of the undertaker to whom he was apprenticed and ends up in Fagin’s gang where he joins other orphans to learn the art of stealing. Earliest documented use: 1847.
USAGE: “A fagin crook led a gang of young thieves stealing valuable bikes to order across Tyneside.”
Garry Willey; Fagin’s Gang Busted; The Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, UK) Apr 4, 2011.
MEANING: noun: A large umbrella.
ETYMOLOGY: After Sarah Gamp, a nurse in Charles Dickens’s novel Martin Chuzzlewit. She carries a large umbrella. Earliest documented use: 1864.
USAGE: “By the time we fumble with our windcheaters and gamps, the air is dry once again.”
Narayani Ganesh; City of Derry in Northern Ireland; The Economic Times (New Delhi, India); Dec 31, 2010.
MEANING: noun: A miser.
ETYMOLOGY: After Ebenezer Scrooge, the mean-spirited, miserly protagonist in Charles Dickens’s novel A Christmas Carol. Earliest documented use: 1940.
USAGE: “John Hymers was not entirely a Scrooge. There were times when he secretly helped poor people and he built a village library.”
Sisters Campaigned for a Mixed School at Hymers; Hull Daily Mail (UK); Jan 23, 2012.
MEANING: noun: Someone who is solely interested in cold, hard facts.
ETYMOLOGY: After Thomas Gradgrind, the utilitarian mill-owner in Charles Dickens’s novel Hard Times. Gradgrind runs a school with the idea that hard facts and rules are more important than love, emotions, and feelings. Earliest documented use: 1855.
USAGE: “In truth, Colleen McCullough is very much a Gradgrind when it comes to facts: They are all that is needful, presented, it must be said, without color or animation to detract from their merit.”
Katherine A. Powers; Ancient Evenings; The Washington Post; Dec 15, 2002.
The Last Word . . .
“When Shakespeare was writing, he wasn’t writing for stuff to lie on the page; it was supposed to get up and move around.” – Ken Kesey