Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Hot friends

          Do you have hot friends? How about hot in-laws? Well, try to top this. My brother-in-law’s truck burst into flames recently:
          A generator in the truck caught fire. Luckily he was nowhere near it. He and a hunting buddy had gone away for dinner, and noticed a giant plume of black smoke as they returned.  When they got there the flames were just reaching the huge stash of ammunition AND a propane tank.  They said it was like a war zone with one explosion after another.
          Then another friend of mine, who races cars (I am so jealous; you know that’s my spirit career), sent this shot of his car that also caught on fire. Luckily the driver wasn’t hurt.
          And then, at the same racetrack, ANOTHER truck burst into flames—and yep, it had a generator on board that caused the fire.
          Maybe it’s just as well that I became a mild-mannered (okay, a semi-mannered) writer who sits indoors, perfectly still, and stays out of the heat wave.
          But hot deals await you, my friend. Check out my books on my website here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Come One, Come All!

          I’m excited. I love teaching writing and on Saturday, September 14th I get another opportunity. I teach what to do, and I also teach what not to do. One of the nots is overwriting. Recently I came across an ad for a simple blazer, with this description:

          A crisply chic mandarin collar meticulously-constructs this eclectic overpiece, lending an individualistic essence that's immeasurably maximized. Rendering a dedication to craftsmanship in a figure-skimming iteration, this fashion-focused twill jacket is developed through time-honored techniques and tailored touches.

          I know, excruciating. A dense forest of verbiage that could choke the hungriest herbivore.  Or verbivore.
          Sometimes people do this to show off their vocabulary, always a bad idea. When you’re trying to stump your readers, you lose them.  Other times it’s because the writer lacks confidence. They think they have to expound, embroidering until all you can see is the thread. But simple and concise is not only more professional, it’s more accessible.
          Perhaps Mark Twain, who was often paid by the word, said it best: “'I never write ‘metropolis’ for seven cents, because I can get the same money for ‘city.’”
          If you live anywhere in the Sacramento metropolis, er, city, come join the fun in Roseville from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.  Here’s the link where you can register for this college extension class that will help anybody get organized and begin their novel, play, or short story. It’s called “Start with the Bones.”

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Join Today!

          Does your mind ever play tricks on you?  It must.  This is why we all enjoy optical illusions and close-up magic.  We marvel that we can stare at one thing and see something else.
          But does it ever happen with your name?  A friend of mine recently wrote, “I have to tell you, when I was in Chicago last week we were staying at the Chicago Hilton, and everywhere I looked there were signs inviting me to apply to be a member of the Hilton rewards program. The signs had just two words: Join Hilton, and I kept thinking I was seeing your name.”
          I’ve actually had the same thing happen—when typing my own name I’ve often transposed it to read “Join”  instead of “Joni.” Even worse, I sometimes write “XoXo” to loved ones, and occasionally I’ll check it before sending and realize that it actually says “SoSo.”
          But does your name spell something else if you mess with the letters? Think about St. Bob. His name spells Bob forward and backward, the lucky duck. But what if your name is Bart? Do you sometimes write Brat?  Did Burl Ives sometimes write Blur Eyes? 
          And sometimes we see what we want to see.  Anytime I see a sign that starts with “C” my mind wants to read, “chocolate.” 
           But usually it just says “Capital” something, since I live in California’s capital, Sacramento.  Naturally you find Capital bank, Capital cleaners’, Capital cafĂ©—all of which could double their business if they simply changed the first word to Chocolate.
          Sadly, the word “Chocolate” is not in any of my book titles.  But you can write it in if you prefer, for a more delicious read. Heck, you can even cross out “Joni” and write “Join”  if you wish.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Doggerel Days

          Doggerel is a word which means an irregular, silly, or badly written rhyme. I’m going to assume that its origins trace to my own dogs’ ancestors who were undoubtedly all three—irregular, silly, and bad.
          However, this does not mean I don’t love dogs; I do. They just need to attend I.Q. camp. You recall, of course, that one of my dogs literally did this damage to this book:
          He was also the one who kept barking at an old hot water heater before it was picked up for recycling.
          Today we are down to Mickey, so named because she sort of has a silhouette of Mickey Mouse on her back. The other day I saw her at the glass back door, barking at the porch.  I figured there must be an animal of some kind out there, and a scary one at that.  Nope. This is what had the nerve to be crouching on our cement:
          St. Bob had left a small Home Depot bag on the patio table, and it had blown onto—horrors!—the ground.  She also had a fit some time ago when a stray balloon found its way to the kitchen island: 
          And now, to share with you her latest hobby, it’s twirling in our curtains.


Occasionally she gets so wound up in them she can hardly find her way out.

Last week I was grocery shopping and saw a magazine called Inside Your Dog's Mind. How can there be even one paragraph of information on this topic, much less an entire magazine? I didn’t browse through it. I just assumed it would be photos of cobwebs. Maybe some doggerel poetry about dogs’ thoughts.
          But I adore Mickey nonetheless. After all, she thinks I’m hilarious.
The best way to endure the dog days of summer is to stay inside where it's cool and read one of my books. Find them all right here.