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Sunday, July 17, 2011

No. Co. Writers Bloc

My first attendance at the North County Writers Bloc meeting Friday, July 15, 2011, was a delightful experience.  There are many fine members within this group, with plenty of writing talent.  I look forward to their next gathering, and I thank Bob Richard for alerting me about the Writers Bloc.     Joy Taylor Jaeger

Thursday, June 9, 2011



I decided to write about commas since a fellow writer asked me to look at her commas or lack thereof and because I’m considered a comma expert. Ha. Ha.

Also, in a writing contest, I got dinged for this:

I wrote, “Got something Colonel from Zachari’s men.”

They corrected, “Got something, Colonel, from Zachari’s men.”

“What?” I remembered distinctly that commas were optional in short sentences and when the meaning was obvious, so I checked it out.

I wrote the Chicago Manual of Style on-line. The Staff wrote back to agree with me, but said that my sentence was gibberish without the commas. Oops. I’m not going to argue.

The rest of the rules are summarized from, THE COPYEDITOR’S HANDBOOK, 2nd edition, by Einsohn:

1. (Compound sentence) Separate independent clauses by comma unless they are short and unambiguous.

2. (Compound predicate) Use a comma between subject and second verb if needed for emphasis or clarity.

3. (Dependant clause preceding an independent clause) Place a comma after the dependent clause.

4. (Dependant clause following an independent clause) No comma after the i.c. if the i.c. is restrictive. [A restrictive clause is essential to the meaning of the sentence.]

5. Set off an introductory participle phrase with a comma.

6. Set off a sentence and transitional adverb with a comma. (Unfortunately, …//The sched, however, …)

7. Set off an interrupter with a pair of commas.

8. Use commas to separate the items in a list or series (3 or more). Sometimes house rules differ.

9. Use commas to separate coordinate adjectives and no commas if the adjectives aren’t coordinate. [Coordinate adjectives equally and independently modify the noun.] This is lax in practice.

10. Separate interdependent clauses unless the clauses are very short.

11. Separate antithetical elements with a comma. That’s my book, not yours, on the table.

12. In direct address, set off the addressee. See example from my novel at top of page.

13. Use a comma to separate the quotation from the speaker’s tag.

14. In running text, use a comma to separate the street address from the city, and the city from the state.

15. Use a comma to separate the date from the year.

16. Do not use a comma to join independent clauses.

17. Do not insert a comma between a subject and the second member of a compound predicate. [X This new method will simplify billing, and save us time. Drop the comma.]

18. Do not use commas to set off a restrictive appositive. The movie, Casablanca, is out. Drop commas.

19. Do not use commas before an indirect quotation. Management asked [no comma] whether sales were up.

20. Do not use a comma after a that that precedes a quotation. [Oh, I love this one and the next.]

21. Do not use a comma before a quotation that is the direct object of a verb. The sign said “No Fishing.”

22. Do not allow a comma to interrupt a so . . . that construction.

23. Do not place a comma before an opening parenthesis that introduces a comment. X Many dislike double pronouns, (he or she) and so we do not use them. Many dislike double pronouns (he or she), and so we do not use them.—A comma may, however, precede a set of parentheses that encloses a numeral or letter in an in-text list.

24. Sometimes an author will insert a pair of commas to provide a slight degree of de-emphasis. Example: The older conventions for using commas, at times, can produce an unpleasant choppiness (and applies well when using the same accenting technique in compound sentences. In this case, it’s better to drop from four to two commas because of a stutter step cadence and visually clarity.

25. Prevent a misreading of your text by applying commas.

26. Use your judgment with strange sentences.

All this is as clear as pancake batter, right?

By RW Richard

Sunday, June 5, 2011

I can't get you out of my head

I was at an estate sale and bought some sheet music for a quarter. It hit me. I remembered NPR's 600 word short story contests (which are ongoing) and how every song has a story of some kind.

So I issue a challenge. Look up the lyrics to some song by googling, any era, read the lyrics, get inspired and tell a short story of 600 hundred words or less. Then we read them at our pleasure on friday. Then we start collecting them. I'll use my publishing company to publish them when we have collected enough of them at no charge, we'll share the profits, going kindle at first to test the waters. This shouldn't detract from our regular writing because it probably takes a couple hours, initially.

Let me give you an example: Wake Up Little Suzie.

A boy and girl can't find a way of see each other because they're parents don't want them together, so they secretly meet at the movies and it becomes a disaster....Dialogue, setting: the why, where, who, how, when can all be answered....even the cute poodle skirt she wore.

If you like the idea we could expand it to 5 double spaced pages at the most (perfect for a friday).

Monday, May 16, 2011

Ode to Suddenly


By RW Richard

On page 136 of the paperback, “Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us, A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing Is Being Rejected,” the author, Jessica Page Morrel writes, “I discover suddenly in most manuscripts I read, and it’s never necessary. Things that happen unexpectedly don’t need to be explained as being sudden; the reader will understand this phenomenon. Suddenly a loud sound shattered the silence . . . Or “Look” Alan shouted suddenly . . .”

Now wait, one self-serving minute. I know, suddenly, you don’t want to read on. You wonder about my sanity or worse yet about my authorlyness (yep, made that word up). At this point I’d like to recommend picking up a copy of New York Times Bestselling Author, Barbara Delinsky’s, romance titled, Suddenly. Sorry, I have not read the whole thing (as yet). Two suddenlys lurk in chapter one. But, isn’t it, as a title, good enough to make my point? Do we need to rip from the rich English language this poor snibbling word? Might we get rid of tragically, randomly, beautiful? How about, It was a dark and stormy night? Hell, throw-em all out, but beware of dead prose promising a good sleep for the reader. And what does a reader want? Generally, they don’t put down a novel over our affectations. Most readers feel the whole, we analyze the parts.

Might there be times when using suddenly is called for? Are there times when a writer uses the word to describe the excitement of the situation? And during those times, if a writer wanted to build excitement, is there an any more concise way of enriching the sentence, giving it power, giving it meaning? Why does nearly every published author use suddenly (sparingly) during their masterpieces (almost as a dare to the unwashed)?

Let’s try to think up kinder examples. Let’s say you have a novel with twists and turns, a page turner. Everything is normal. The hero is solving a crime, yep time after time he’s surprised, but always manages to Karate-chop or shoot his way out. Why, because he anticipates. He’s always weary. That’s why when his nine-year-old son suddenly drives a knife into his chest while they munched together watching the Super Bowl, you shriek.

By the way, I don’t use suddenly in my novels, but I’ve always wanted to be good enough. Someday when I ‘m a world famous author, I’ll sneak one in, once in a while.

Maybe I’ll start the first words on the first page of chapter one of my masterpiece with, “Suddenly, it was a dark and stormy night,” and then spend the rest of the novel trying to justify the beginning.

In the Dimwit’s Dictionary, find “suddenly and without warning A wretched redundancy. . . . impetuously; impulsively; spontaneously; suddenly; unexpectedly; without warning.” Consider this. These words are not exactly interchangeable. What shade of meaning differentiates them?

Is everything simply black ink on white pages or might you see color?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Orin's blogerel

Orin Parker December, 2010

Seasons Greetings, Writing strugglers
The Holiday strains us word-jugglers
We must keep your muse engaged, our writing clear
So our novels, poems and essays in print will appear . . . next year.

Happy New Year, WRITERS’ BLOC
Maybe it’s time we all took stock
We write but shouldn’t we finally admit
That what we write we must submit?

The agents are there, waiting to attack
To tell us what our word-gems lack.
What we thought we had completed
They want whole precious blocks deleted.

Looking back, what have we published?
Doug and Carlyn’s books are printed
But now they’ve left us, sprinted
North to Oregon’s nature-loving call.

Ann, your creativeness still palpitates
Your weekly chapters fascinate
We glory in your golden phrasing
And find your characters amazing

Barbara, your life and how you bare it
We’re all pleased you let us share it
You find life’s deepest meanings
As you offer up your gleanings.

Bob, your many plots are dazzling
Your use of words is raz-ma-tazzling
You surprise us, push us near the cliff
Of propriety, And always provide of wolves a whiff.

Brix, you write and we expect a lot
From your exciting Mermaid plot
Sometimes, though, we’re no help
We need goggles undersea in all that kelp.

Carol, novelist par excellence
We stand in awe of yor tal-ance
Thanks to you, our dear professor
We struggle on, more or lesser.

Claudia, your entering in our group discussion
Sobers us. You quieten our loud percussion.
You educate and inspire us in your reading
We know your published story will be leading.

Dave, your amazing tales and travels
We marvel as your complex plot unravels
But you always bring a story fantastic
To twist our minds and leave us spastic.

Eileen, your gifts are spread so wide
We’re not much help, though all have tried
We wish you well as you publicize
your art and verse. Your song is wise.

Evelyn, we miss your clever tales
Of wizards and their strange travails.
We hope you’re writing and completing
Your stories. Come rejoin us in our meeting.

George, your remembering translates
And takes us back to football greats
Exciting history, now almost lost
today . And at what a cost.

Gordon, your stories are great and poems greater
You must have an idea incubator
Our simplest precious memory detail
You craft in words that fill our sail.

Jean, your Civil War love epic calls us
The careful moving plot enthralls us
Romantic heroes, battles, love and spies
Will soon be bringing readers’ sighs.

But Jean, you’re the managing Mother
Of the Bloc. You’ve become major other
Who worries, helps and serves our group
You provide us with our weekly Chicken Soup.

Joe, Italy’s medieval memorabilia
Enhances the story of your “famiglia”
History and sorcery you’ve intermixed
We try, but do we help you get it fixed?

Laura, you’ve just joined the Bloc
So how to know if we’re the Doc
You want to help your wandering plot?
It’s great writing, impressing us a lot.

Louise, your fascinating women
And stories with mayhem brimmin’
We love the way you twist and turn
Your people in plots we often struggle to discern

Susan, your FairyTail puppets
Are equal to our favorite Muppets
The stories that you carefully spin
We miss you well, please come back in.

Thomas, actor, dramatist, composer
For whom we all become supposer
The lyrical wit and wisdom of your writing
Provides each week a candle-lighting.

Orin, your rhyming’s worse than awful
By now the Group’s had their craw full
You could quit if you were ahead
But, alas, you never leave things unsaid

You’re out of novels and tiring prose
But the computer beckons you. Compose.
You still retain your taste for critical
Why waste your time on things political?

But let’s return to Carol, our indoctrinating Muse
Who sees us sometimes win and often loose
What would we do without your words
That carefully peck at us like hungry birds
Looking for meaning, then ascertaining
If we’re really on track or just no-braining
You buoy us up with careful praise
And then occasionally will raise
The question why we write the way we do?
What can we say, Carol? It’s because of you
We want your comment and attention.
We need your care and frequent mention
Treat us firmly when we’re wrong
But sing to us some time your approving song.

Hey, the New Year’s almost here
Maybe publishers will suddenly appear
Who recognize our rare ability
Before we slide into senility.

Or maybe in the millennial brain
No word-combinations remain
That have not previously been used
And all our work will be refused

As being in the past created
By authors, like us, but celebrated
Who put their work into the hard-drives
Of the computers that now rule our lives

We’ll continue to write and face the future
Our rejection scars the Bloc will suture
Reading to our Writers’ Bloc, we’re published HERE

Monday, September 20, 2010


In honor of those who died on 911


by RW Richard

A wall of searing blue flames pressed Hussam to the melted and broken windows. He couldn’t breathe and the heat was hell.

“It’s you,” the pretty girl from personnel said. Over the months he had stolen glances of her and she did the same, both gutless wonders.

“I’m Hussam Fayyad, your boss’s boss.”

“I know. Save your breath. I’m Sarah Bernstein.” He knew.

They locked their hands, tight. Leaned out and hesitated. Then, Sarah’s wavy auburn hair caught fire.

“Marry me.” She screamed from the pain, tears evaporating. Taking off his jacket, he wrapped her head.

“I will. I do.” Holding hands tight, they jumped out from the ninety-ninth floor.

“I do,” she tried to say—her breath pushed inward by the rush of air—not that he could hear her anyway. She closed her eyes, he held unto her like a vise, as if they were one. Perhaps now they were.

“Mom and dad I’d like you to meet my fiancĂ©e, Hussam Fayyad.” Her folks' home, a big split-level in Oradell New Jersey, had beautiful large tile floors, a modern kitchen, with a menorah on the table. The candles had pooled on the table top.

“I guess it’s stupid for me to tell my daughter she should have chosen a nice Jewish boy?” Sarah’s mom asked rhetorically.

“We’re soul mates,” Hussam said.

“We’re besherte, mom.” She put it in Yiddish terms.

He dared not open his eyes and lose this vision of her mom and dad. He had always thought about Sarah, trying to get up the nerve to ask her out. Worried of cultural, political, and religious differences. He didn’t believe in treating women like second class citizens, not at work, not in marriage. His hiring practices and office policies touted the heart of a modern liberated Moslem.

“We’ll always love the thought of you,” her mom and dad said, hugging him.

“We have to go to the wedding now,” Sarah said, pulling his hand.

At the wedding, Hussam’s little brother carried the ring on a purple pillow. Sarah always knew Hussam would come by, lean on her desk, ask her out. They’d marry, have three kids, two girls, one boy, or the other way around. They both wanted to be outvoted in either case. These gorgeous kids would grow up brilliant and loving, real menches; oh yes, two dogs, just right.

“I am so happy to have you in my heart.” Hussam’s parents, both a little portly, hugged her by the orchids stationed at the first row of seats in their garden. Tears turned to rivers. Images rifted through her of falafel, lamb kebob, along with gefilte fish, Manischewitz Blackberry for the toast. Bruce Springsteen’s band struck up, ‘Here Comes the Bride.’

“He took my hand,” she explained to his mom and dad by way of apology.

“Thank you pretty Sarah. My son, he always work, work, work.”

She wished the world a better place, maybe a little less work, a little more love.

“He needs a strong Jewish girl to love him,” his dad said. They kissed her cheeks.

“I always had and always will love him,” Sarah said. She had harbored a tiny love, like a seedling, hoping to water it. No doubt about her feelings, now.

Martin Luther King without thinking forgot to add one word, Moslem. “. . . when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews, Moslems, and Gentiles, Protestant and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: 'Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.'”

Sarah’s heart beat the rhythm of Martin’s words. She felt Hussam heard and saw Martin with her at the Lincoln Memorial, because he squeezed her. He’d never let go.

I am within you, Sarah.

I am within you, Hussam.

“Great Grand Papa.” Isaac Bernstein was gassed at Auschwitz, yet thin, young, suspendered, a silly fedora, munching on a pipe, his eyes opened to heaven.

“You bring the right man with you, mazel tov. Hussam’s great grand mom and pop are at the bridge table with your great grandma, waiting for me to come back. You see, I’m the dummy. Those two died in Gaza. Bam, to pieces.” He splayed his hands.

At the wedding, Cyndi Lauper spread her many orange, red, and yellow petty coats on the back step. With a sad face, she sang, 'Time After Time.'

The Rabbi and Imam smiled from under the canopy on this day of brilliant blue. They finished with one voice, “in death you will start, because love is eternal.”

Almighty God, Allah, blessed them, opened his arms and said, “kiss already.”

We kissed.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I'm dashed.

Last night I showed my Robin Hood short story to my Filipina born wife. "I don't understand," she said. Let me be perfectly clear, I've stuffed this Harlequin bound (hopefully) short with tons of verbs, and a dash of middle English cleaned up to make sense. "I don't understand." Well, I'm going to bring this up with the Bloc when we meet.

I'm writing for people who love Regency and Knights in shining armor romances. Do I simplify the language? I think I'll need to dig into some of my hundreds of romances (my wife's), find this type and check the prose.

Apparently Robin Hood never traveled to the Philippines.