Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Elves Made the Paper

I submitted my essay on the elves to The Columbus Dispatch and they published it!

Click here to read it. Not much changed from the version posted on this blog, but there's a nice picture of me in a suit. Well, not really a full suit. Actually, just a coat and tie. When my wife took that picture I had on a pair of running shorts. I only needed the head shot and I hate getting dressed up.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Elves

Last year two elves visited our house for the Christmas season. They came in early December, and they had a note asking our kids to name them and make them beds so they could live with us until Christmas. The kids named them after their best friends that year, Ian and David.

Ian and David were mischievous little elves. They would move around, and un-spin rolls of toilet paper, and take clothes out of the hamper. We found them trying to play Guitar Hero once, and they would disappear from tables in the family room only to show up on top of the fridge in the kitchen or some other odd place.

The kids never saw them move and were fascinated. They became very attached to the elves. Very attached...

Christmas night the elves went back to the North Pole while the kids were sleeping. We told them this would happen, but it didn't lessen the impact. The kids were devastated. When I walked into their bedroom the next morning, my older son was sobbing.

"Ian ran away," he said, once he could compose himself enough to speak. I gave him a big hug.

It broke my heart to see him so upset. It was like he suffered a tragic loss of a family member or pet, so deep was his attachment to his new magic friend. I came very close to willing the elf to re-appear in his bed right then and there, but I didn't. I knew he would come back again the next Christmas, and tried to comfort my son with this thought. It worked. Eventually.

The elves returned this year. They came the night we set up our Christmas tree. They're already up to their usual hijinx. My younger son is always amazed and takes each prank or sudden movement for its face value. My older son...he's a skeptic.

He thinks my wife and I are really moving the elves, and he's always on the lookout. He was still up at 9:30 the other night, in bed in the dark watching for the elves to sneak into his room. He leaves notes asking them if they will prove they are real by moving for him. He even wrote a note for Santa asking him to make the elves move for him.

Remember, this is the kid who tried to trick the tooth fairy. I'm pretty sure he does believe, though, until he can prove otherwise. He still can't explain how they got up on the sill of the big window high above the front door.

I like having elves in the house. Watching the kids laugh at them is like a Christmas present each day of the month.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

And the answer is...

Matt Delman tagged me with a question and answer game about writing and I could not help but play along. It is worth noting that I am easily flattered. I'm not going to tag others, but if you want to play along you can pretend I just tagged everyone following this blog. It is also worth noting that I am lazy and easily distracted.

If anyone has additional questions and you are curious to see what kind of a smart-ass response they will yield, ask me in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

1. What's the last thing you wrote? What's the first thing you wrote that you still have?

The last thing I completed was a revision of RUDY TOOT-TOOT, which is now in my agent’s inbox awaiting its turn to be read. The last thing I wrote in general is this sentence.

The first thing I wrote that I still have is a short story called THE QUEST and its sequel called THE SEQUEL. I used to work at a restaurant and I used all of my co-workers as characters.

2. Write poetry?

Yes, but not for a while. Most of my poetry is in the form of song lyrics, which is frustrating because I can’t sing to save my life.

3. Angsty poetry?

On occasion.

4. Favorite genre of writing?

Humor. Cynical, satirical, smart-assed humor.

5. Most annoying character you've ever created?

Greg Simon’s wife in EARTH’S END. She’s a mean spirited shrew of a woman, spoiled rotten and ungrateful. But she’s hot. Greg constantly evaluates the difference between internal and external beauty. Greg is quite materialistic and vain in his own right, and external beauty usually wins.

6. Best Plot you've ever created?

Probably the plot for FATE’S GUARDIAN. It has an interesting theme at its core, and the characters and motivations span several lifetimes so the plot is the most intricate.

7. Coolest Plot twist you've ever created?

There’s a twist in FATE’S GUARDIAN where I reveal the relationships between the present life characters with their past life counterparts. If I play my cards right, most readers will be surprised.

8. How often do you get writer's block?

I don’t get writer’s block as much as I get lazy. It’s rare that I struggle to make something up. Sometimes the need to get out of bed early to crank away at the keyboard falls prey to the convenience of the snooze button.

9. Write fan fiction?

Nope. I started to write an X-Files episode once, but stopped when I read online that Chris Carter never accepts outside story ideas.

10. Do you type or write by hand?

Not if I want to be able to read it back. My penmanship is awful.

11. Do you save everything you write?

Yes. I have a junk folder on my computer with ideas that range from a sentence to a few pages.

12. Do you ever go back to an idea after you've abandoned it?

It depends on the idea. There are some I’ve abandoned that I may still come back to, and others that I pulled back out and reapplied.

13. What's your favorite thing you've ever written?

EARTH’S END. I crack myself up with that one.

14. What's everyone else's favorite story that you've written?

Can’t say. Very few people have read all of my stories. My wife is probably the only one. She likes FATE’S GUARDIAN best.

15. Ever written romance or angsty teen drama?

I tried to write romance once. Didn’t work. It started off as my regular smart-ass rant, and then when I amped it up it bypassed romance and went straight to Penthouse Letter. I haven’t tried angsty teen drama yet.

16. What's your favorite setting for your characters?


17. How many writing projects are you working on right now?


FATE’S GUARDIAN- status is 40k words in on a fuller-write. Was once 120k, but will be 80k when I’m done.

EARTH’S END- Status is only 16k words, will be around 60k when complete. Story line is mostly fleshed out, I just add things in as I go, but I know how it will unfold in a general sense.

RUDY TOOT-TOOT started as a 500-word picture book, and is now 17,500 word chapter book. Manuscript is finished and awaiting agent feedback.

THE CHRONICLES OF CHRISTMAS- a pre-history of Santa Clause. Targeting 30k words, middle-grade. Have some very fun ideas for it, haven’t done more than scratch the surface for the actual writing but I’ve outlined the story extensively.

18. Have you ever won an award for your writing?

Other than gratuitous blogging awards, no.

19. What are your five favorite words?

You won the lottery Rick.

20. What character have you created that is most like yourself?

None of them and all of them.

21. Where do you get ideas for your characters?

My characters come to me with ideas. I’d like to think I was in control of this process, but I’m not. They are. I just edit them.

22. Do you ever write based on your dreams?

No. My dreams are waaaay to bizarre to write about.

23. Do you favor happy endings?

That’s a little personal, isn’t it? And besides, I never visit those kinds of establishments.

24. Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?

All too much.

25. Does music help you write?

Not particularly. If music is on I’ll usually tune it out. Same for TV most of the time.

26. Quote something you've written. Whatever pops into your head.

This is from RUDY TOOT-TOOT. Most of RTT is light-hearted and fun, but this section is one of my favorite parts:

Late that night, while everyone was asleep, the wind pushed a thick cover of clouds in front of the moon and their shadow covered the land, blotting out the moonlight. There in the darkness a long rain fell. Without thunder or lightning the clouds released their contents onto the world below, the wind slowing and then stopping altogether as the earth drank deep.

The water gathered in small pools, looking for cracks in the ground and finding them. The water flowed down into the bigger cracks and found smaller cracks. The cracks got smaller and smaller, but they were still there, and the water worked its way down into them all, eventually making new cracks of its own and saturating the ground.

The remains of the corn that had been in the field the year before – now broken up and tilled into the ground – kept the rich topsoil from washing away in the rain. As the water went through the topsoil, it picked up tiny minerals – much smaller than anyone could see without a microscope – and carried them underground.

The water passed the soybean seeds, wetting their outer husks and loosening the dirt around them. The beans swelled as they got wet and they snuggled into their soft earthen beds for the rest of the night.

The clouds emptied out just before dawn, and without the weight of the water to keep them in place they blew away in the breeze. The sun rose over the nicely soaked farmland and started the day with a clear blue sky.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

And I Quote:

"I need something to keep my legs warm because this toilet is freaking cold."

- My 5-year old son.

Should I be concerned?

At least he said "freaking." That's a reflection of my wife and me and the admirable restraint we show in our own language around the house. Kids say what they hear, you know.