Saturday, July 30, 2005

Playing with Babelfish

A little too much time on my hands. This is the original (first paragraph from "Grace for the Sinner"):

"Grace came home in the springtime, when dogwoods declared the glory of Christ Resurrected, spreading white-robed arms over the azaleas that covered the Earth in blood and fire. The air was heavy with the scents of honeysuckle and wisteria and the old houses stood haughty and aloof, dozing in the warmth as they dreamed their gray and dusty dreams of glories past and the giants that had walked the Earth in days of old."

English -> Japanese -> English :

"Elegance when declaring Christ's glory which spring the dogwood revives, the earth of the blood and the fire came to the robed arm starting point where the extent on azaleas which is overturned is white. That you looked at the dream where the air smell of ????? is heavy, dream of gray and the ? ? being lazy the earth it is old with the giant and glory many day making walk passes, wisteria and the old house stands haughtiness, simultaneously, stiffly drowses at the warmth."

This means something. Have a weird weekend.

Word of the Day

Dogma, guest posting on tamboblog, talks about serendipitous slips of the fingers that result in intriguingly useful word coinage. In this case, she came up with the word "fibure", meaning to lie so convincingly that it appears to be the truth.

My entry into this category come from my work many years ago as a computer consultant. This was in the pre-Windows days, when dinosaurs still roamed the earth and computers were mostly run by waterwheels. My boss, attempting to format a diskette, mistyped the command. This is how the word "fumquat" entered the language.

fumquat adj : [Arabic : fumqat, the wrath of Allah] To be so badly screwed up as to be completely hopeless. FUBAR to the tenth power. Unrecoverable at any price, esp. due to user error. "He formatted the C drive. Now he's fumquat."

fumquat v : To mess something up so badly that it cannot be repaired, esp. through ineptitude. "He's so dumb, he can fumquat anything."

What's the best typo you ever made?

Hey, is this a meme?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

It Was Fun While It Lasted

I've been riding the crest of a big wave tha last couple of months, but it's starting to break now. Time to pull in my wings and concentrate on not losing too much ground. It's been around 9 months since I had a really major downturn, and I hope to extend that streak even further. Blogging will be a little sporadic for a while, though I will still drop in and leave my usual snide comments on other people's blogs.

I'm expecting some good news soon, so I'm using that as my safety net right now. I have also just about convinced myself that "doing it right" is not an issue as far as the novel is concerned. Anything that gets words down is what is right. I am planning on cutting back on that, too. If I can just get the main plot written, I'll have something I can expand and enrich later. I just need to get something finished on that front.

See ya when.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Halo Effect


The Halo Effect by M. J. Rose. Mira, 2005. ISBN: 0778321975


This is what it's like to walk around in someone else's skin. M. J. Rose's masterful use of words invokes all our senses. We feel what her characters feel, see what they see, smell what they smell. We even come to think their thoughts. She draws us in and, before we know it, we are riding the roller coaster, and we suddenly realize the cars are not very well attached to the rails.


The person we get to inhabit in The Halo Effect is Dr. Morgan Snow, a New York psychiatrist who specializes in sexual problems. We meet her as she is counseling Cleo Thane,a high-class, high-priced prostitute and madame. Cleo is writing a book that tells all about her (thinly-disguised) clients' proclivities. When Cleo vanishes, the obvious questions arise: Who took her? Was it a client concerned over being exposed? Is she still alive?


The police can't help. This is just a missing-person case to them, and besides, they have more important issues to deal with. Issues like the Magdalene Murders, a series of prostitutes murdered by a serial killer, apparently in some bizarre religious ritual. The murders are becoming more frequent, and the police have to move fast to avoid a bloodbath. An obvious move is to call Dr. Snow in to consult on the case. Are the murders somehow connected to Cleo's disappearance? How is she going to find out? It's not long before Morgan Snow is in a heap of trouble.


The Halo Effect is a rip-snorting suspense novel that will keep you guessing to the very end. As Morgan tries to deal with family and personal issues, professional ethics, and a handsome and intriguing detective transplanted from New Orleans, we come to understand her. Her tension and conflict crank up the energy level in this novel to piano-wire tautness. Rose's technique in this book does not just depend on precise and eloquent use of words. She also lets us read parts of Cleo's book along the way. Her ability to switch voices from Morgan to Cleo when needed is effective (and enviable, it's something I will have to study carefully). Her characters are well-defined individuals, each with his or her own set of conflicts and defining characteristics.


I look forward to watching Morgan Snow grow as the series progresses. I truly enjoyed inhabiting her skin for a while.



Categories: ,

Watch Your Step

GODDAMNED FIRE ANTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Persnickety Poster vs. Blog Monster, Round 2

Do you have a story that haunts you, awake and asleep, that taunts, teases, compels you? "Grace for the Sinner" is one of those stories. I first attempted to write this story some 10 years ago. Since then, I have tried time after time after time, only to give up, knowing I did not have the skill to do Grace justice. Still she pleads with me, begs me to tell her story, to not let her be forgotten.

This story is like a lump of clay on the potter's wheel. Slowly, carefully, I shape it, trying to draw out the beauty and meaning into words, to shape the words into a story that carries the depth of feeling I have for Grace. Every time, as I get closer to the end, it slumps back into an amorphous heap of muck. Yet I must try again.

Maybe this time. Maybe this time, I will be touched by Grace and allowed to tase glory.

Herewith, a peek into the soul of Grace.

-----


Grace for the Sinner
By Carter Nipper


Grace came home in the springtime, when dogwoods declared the glory of Christ Resurrected, spreading white-robed arms over the azaleas that covered the Earth in blood and fire. The air was heavy with the scents of honeysuckle and wisteria and the old houses stood haughty and aloof, dozing in the warmth as they dreamed their gray and dusty dreams of glories past and the giants that had walked the Earth in days of old.

Home, she thought. Ross Landing, where the past is now.

She caught a brief reflection in the car's window, tired green eyes rimmed with fire, weary blonde hair with a touch of flame, strawberry blonde, some call it, though there were no strawberries here any more, only ashes and fading embers. Her skin bleached with fatigue, and her freckles blazed in contrast.

What a mess, she thought. First thing I'm going to do is get some sun, but she knew that, as surely as she relaxed in the healing rays, she would rise later in flames, the price of her ancient Celtic heritage.

#

The airport was a nightmare collage of faceless hurrying strangers, blaring announcements, and kaleidoscope colors. She groped her way through the crowd, confused, pursued by nameless, formless Furies that came closer with every step. Only when they were at last airborne was she able to relax in her metal and fabric cocoon, anticipating the safety and security, the familiarity and comfort of home.

#

The car proceeded slowly down Liberty Street, so named because legend had it that the only way for the prisoners to escape the old Penitentiary on the North end of the street was to take the solemn ride to the cemetery on the South end. Grace watched the houses drift past, knowing that their airs of ancientness were only shams; Sherman's men had done their work only too well along their March to the Sea.

As the car pulled to a stop in front of the only true antebellum house left on this street, one of the small clouds momentarily crossed before the sun, plunging the day briefly into smoky shadow. Grace froze in her seat as she was gripped by a brief frisson, seeing in her mind's eye a vision of that terrible night, when houses burned like hideous torches, lighting the hurricane of holy retribution that brings a flood of ruin upon war's unlucky losers. The vision passed as quickly as it had come, and she was left weak and tired, a modern girl in a modern world with the war generations gone and a bright spring day to welcome her home.

#

The ride to the airport was a smoky reflection in a broken mirror. Miles upon miles stretched out in hazy, half-seen flashes. The cabbie gave up trying to talk to her after a while, and she gazed out the windows, seeing things that were not there. Her thoughts alternated between what had been and what would be, but refused to even consider what is now. It seemed as though the ghosts of her marriage rode alongside, leering and capering in a mocking celebration.

#

"I'll bring your bags, Miss Grace."

"Thank you, Tom."

"We're glad to have you home, Miss. If you don't mind me saying, it looks like you need to be here."

She smiled and felt the weight of the world she was carrying.

"Thank you, Tom. I don't mind you saying. I do need to be here right now, and I'm glad."

She walked up the brick walk to the front door. The creak as she opened it hurt her ears. Daddy should fix that, she thought, her tired mind only then realizing what an absurdity that statement was. She felt the tears rising once more and fought them back with a shudder.

Can't let Momma see me cry, she thought. It wouldn't be proper.

She stood in the hall, letting her eyes adjust to the dimness, hearing the silence. The high ceiling and dark, aged wood imparted an air of ancient holiness that should not be disturbed. The only sound that she could hear was the slow ticking of the clock in the study, measuring out eternity in its inexorable beat. She almost expected to hear her Daddy's voice booming out a welcome, his presence filling the hall with life and laughter, but she knew better, for he had died months ago, and her grief still festered in her heart.

"Momma?"

The word spoken querulously sounded like the pealing of a bell in the hushed solemnity of the house. It seemed to hang writhing in the air, her incivility held up for the disapproval of all.

"Grace?"

Her mother's voice came out of the kitchen at the end of the ponderously long hall. It sounded so natural in the eerie atmosphere in which Grace stood trapped. Grace heard soft rustlings and footsteps as her mother emerged from the kitchen.

"You're home."

The words seemed inane as they embraced stiffly, like strangers. Never close, they had moved farther apart over the past few months. As they drew apart, Grace saw fear and pity in her mother's eyes, and her shame burned within her like a magnesium flare, bright, hot, unquenchable.

"I'm home, Momma, and I'm tired. I think I need a nap."

"Go on ahead, honey", her mother said. "I understand. We'll catch up later, after you're rested."

"Thanks, Momma".

Grace picked up her overnight bag with her essential needs inside.

"Can I leave these bags here, for now, Momma?"

"You go on and get some rest, now, Grace", her mother said. "I'll get Tom to bring them up later. They'll be alright here for now."

"Thanks, Momma."

Grace smiled wearily and trudged up the stairs to her room. It seemed alien to her when she got there, as if a stranger had once lived here and had left her spirit in everything. Grace set her bag on the floor and sat on the edge of the bed, feeling uncomfortable, as if she were intruding. Finally, she gathered her strength and lay back. She was asleep before she had time to think any more about anything.

#

She looked around the empty apartment one last time, hearing once more the laughter and the tears, seeing once more the sunlight and the shadows. Dusty ghosts moved through the empty rooms - airy apparitions of the memories that they had made here, memories good and bad now merely dead, doomed to disappear when the door closed behind her. She heard a horn blow outside - her cab. She picked up her bags and walked out the door, each step a struggle, though her luggage was light. The click of the latch was as light as her steps were heavy, and silence once more blew through the empty hall.

[snip]



Categories: ,

Monday, July 25, 2005

Well, Yeah...


You are a dark writer. A fierce and loyal follower
of Poe and the other gothic authors, you LOVE
to instill a sense of revulsion and somewhat
fear in your readers. You love to poke their
brains with logic dealing with the darker side
of the human mind and character. Truly
surprising and a true individual, you'll do
ANYTHING to create a scene. :)


What's YOUR Writing Style?
brought to you by Quizilla

Link from Mik.

WIP Snip

Do you have a story that haunts you, awake and asleep, that taunts, teases, compels you? "Grace for the Sinner" is one of those stories. I first attempted to write this story some 10 years ago. Since then, I have tried time after time after time, only to give up, knowing I did not have the skill to do Grace justice. Still she pleads with me, begs me to tell her story, to not let her be forgotten.

This story is like a lump of clay on the potter's wheel. Slowly, carefully, I shape it, trying to draw out the beauty and meaning into words, to shape the words into a story that carries the depth of feeling I have for Grace. Every time, as I get closer to the end, it slumps back into an amorphous heap of muck. Yet I must try again.

Maybe this time. Maybe this time, I will be touched by Grace and allowed to tase glory.

Herewith, a peek into the soul of Grace.

-----


Grace for the Sinner
By Carter Nipper


Grace came home in the springtime, when dogwoods declared the glory of Christ Resurrected, spreading white-robed arms over the azaleas that covered the Earth in blood and fire. The air was heavy with the scents of honeysuckle and wisteria and the old houses stood haughty and aloof, dozing in the warmth as they dreamed their gray and dusty dreams of glories past and the giants that had walked the Earth in days of old.

Home, she thought. Ross Landing, where the past is now.

She caught a brief reflection in the car's window, tired green eyes rimmed with fire, weary blonde hair with a touch of flame, strawberry blonde, some call it, though there were no strawberries here any more, no sunshine, no summer, only ashes and fading embers. Her skin was bleached with fatigue, leached of life and color, and her freckles blazed in contrast.

What a mess, she thought. First thing I'm going to do is get some sun, but she knew that, as surely as she relaxed in the healing rays, she would rise later in flames, the price of her ancient Celtic heritage.

#

The airport was a nightmare col

Addendum (4:45pm): WTF? Looks like Blogger ate most of my post. I'll try to put it back in when I get home tonight.