Friday, February 8, 2013

Spell Czech

This morning I woke up and paged through the local paper for some news I could use.

Of course, I had to check out the horoscopes, too… I like to be prepared for all the good stuff coming my way.

But this time the first line stopped me in my tracks –

“From time to time you get so busy that you can’t watch your favorite shoes, read your magazines, or talk to friends…”


Sure, I’m a pretty busy person – my days are filled with homeschooling, freelancing, blogging, novel writing, and general life maintenance…

But I never actually realized just HOW busy I was until I read those words.

I mean, clearly I have been swamped, like, for my entire life – because I must confess that I have NEVER had the time to watch my favorite shoes.

And I feel kind of bad about that right now.

So, I've gotta go.

Yep, it’s about time for some quality time that’s long overdue…

Just me

and the shoes.

PROMPT: One fine morning your character reads a horoscope, and his or her life is forever changed. Good golly, what did it say?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Life Would Be a Ding-a-Derry…

If I only had a knitted brain.

Just when you thought that all creative nooks and crannies had been conquered…

a psychiatrist in Massachusetts has knitted an anatomically correct replica of the human brain.

It all started innocently enough, I’m sure –

One clotted bit of yarn that looked strangely like a cerebellum…

A few strings of wool that screamed “spinal cord!”

The next thing you know, you’re up to your elbows in Merino and purling away at an amygdala.

It took Karen Norberg, M.D. about a year to create her woolen wonder, but it was well worth it –

The brain is now on display at the Boston Museum of Science. Check it out for yourself here.

The good doctor reports that she’d like to see it on posters or t-shirts… “but I am not so sure whether people will want to walk around with a knitted brain on the front of their clothes."

Are you kidding me?

I know LOTS of folks who could benefit from any form of portable brain.

PROMPT: Knitting is not just for cozies anymore! Wrap your cranium around a body part and purl away… On second thought, how about a character with an unusual knitting addiction? Does the family perform an intervention… or do they all think that it’s perfectly normal to pass the time crafting wickedly woolly clarinet bikinis? 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013


Is your story in need of a know-it-all?

If so, then you might want to give him or her a vocabulary straight out of Mrs. Byrne's Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words by Josefa H. Byrne.

This book contains 6000 wacky but "real" English words that have been legitimized by at least one major dictionary.

Trust me, I’m not just telling you this because I think you’re goubemouche (a gullible person).

So don’t be a quakebuttock (coward) – go get your copy today.

PROMPT: While I usually recommend writing that shouts clarity – just for fun, let’s get as wordy as a crazed cruciverbalist (one who loves doing crossword puzzles). After all, you never know when a character might need to floccinaucinihilipilificate (regard as worthless trivia) something like… um… today’s post.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Where There’s Smoke…

There’s Physics!

I know next to nothing about physics.

In fact, if you rattle off terms like absolute zero, escape velocity, and breeder reactor

I will be thinking of people and situations that have little to do with science.

I’m blaming this sad fact on my college physics course.

You see, if you paged through my class notebook from those days, you would only find a series of dates and tally marks.

Those tally marks – which ranged from a low of 19 to a high of 27 –

refer to the number of cigarettes smoked by my physics professor during each three-hour lecture.

If you happened to attend a certain Pennsylvania University in the 1980’s, you know that I am telling no tales.

“Dr. Physics” showed up on campus every Wednesday night at approximately 6:25, shuffled into the lecture hall, and unloaded a large thermos, one beige mug, a colossal glass ashtray, and a carton of Camels.

He would then spend the next three hours sucking down black coffee and lighting each new cigarette with the glowing butt of the last.

Trust me, it was hard to pay attention to critical angles or radioactive decay when there were ashes flicking in every direction…

sometimes finding home in the mug of joe, yet unnoticed by the guzzler.

And it was a little hard to decipher those formulas scratched on the board through all the blue-grey haze.

But most distracting of all –

my constant worry that nobody else’s CPR certification would be up-to-date, and I would be the one stuck administering mouth-to-mouth when this guy’s hard living caught up with him on a Wednesday night.

Believe me, I spent a lot of time praying to the patron saint of physicists that semester.

St. Albert the Great, by the way – should you ever feel the need.

Anyway, you may be wondering what this has to do with writing.

A whole lot, actually –

because whenever you’re working on a story set within our reality, you must get your physics right.

Nothing busts up book-magic faster than bad science.

I once read a novel in which a hard right turn sent a canine passenger tumbling into the passenger-side door. Sadly, this book was based in the U.S. of A., not Jolly Old England.

Even my limited (and traumatic) physics education did not protect me from this sad spell-breaker.

To this day, it is the only thing I remember about that book.


But fear not, physics-challenged people!

Now there is a brilliant website just for us. It is called what if? and it’s the place to go if you've got physics questions like…

How long would the Sun last if a giant water hose were focused upon it?

How many model rocket engines would it take to launch a real rocket into space?

or the one that keeps me awake at night…

From what height would you need to drop a steak for it to be cooked when it hit the ground? 

PROMPT: Create a character who desperately needs the answer to one of the questions on what if’s site. Why does he or she need to know? What happens after s/he gets that all-important info? Does s/he take up a few nasty vices and become a (gulp!) physics professor?