5150 and Half have always been on Kindle Unlimited, but now M3X1(0 and A Quarter are too. If you subscribe to Prime, you can read one book per month for free. If you have Kindle Unlimited, you can read all four whenever you want!
It sounds much harsher than it is. Pathetic fallacy is a story-telling technique in which the environment surrounding a character is an extension of what is happening inside their head. My first introduction to pathetic fallacy was in Wuthering Heights when Heathcliff is raging somewhere on the moors while thunder and lightning crash and flash. At least that’s how it’s stuck in my head all these years later. It is also when human emotions are attributed to an inanimate object, like a “sad” cloud or a “grumpy” sidewalk.
I wonder if Allen Ginsberg’s “angry fix” in Howl is pathetic fallacy or another literary device. If you say “I ate six bowls” when you mean “I ate six bowls of soup” then you’ve just used synecdoche.
My favorite literary device is semantic syllepsis. (Sometimes called ‘Zeugma’). In semantic syllepsis, a part of speech is used once to represent both the literal and the figurative sense of the word in the same sentence. Huh? Okay, an example. “I ate the meal and the cost.” I “ate the meal” is literal. I “ate the cost” is figurative. And you only say “ate” once – so that’s syllepsis/zeugma.
Language can be fun. What are some of your favorite literary devices? I would love to learn some in foreign languages, too. Like when you say “seven stone lions” in Mandarin – it’s a real tongue twister.
Readers ask me how I manage to construct complex sentences without grammatical errors. My answer is always the same: ‘Warriner’s English Grammar and Composition’.
In Junior High, I had two great English teachers. They were night and day when it came to their teaching style and curriculum. The only constant was the cursed Warriner’s grammar book.
“Today we’re diagramming sentences.” The class would give a collective groan. What was the point of breaking apart sentences and sticking every part of speech into a uniquely placed branch off the main clause? So what if “clause” is the object of the preposition “off”, and “main” is an adjective modifying “clause”? So what if “the” is the article of the object of the preposition? Why will I ever care?
That’s a question that answered itself over the years.
There is another facet to my savant-like knowledge of grammar. I studied two foreign languages in Junior High. Learning Spanish and French forced me to return to grammar in order to understand the difference between adjectives and adverbs. The subjunctive tense left me baffled at first, but grammar helped me identify the exact place in the sentence where doubt or will shaded the sentence. Articles and prepositions were familiar friends.
5150 and the other books in that series were written in the first person present tense. There is no way I would have navigated the challenges of such a creative choice without my understanding of foreign grammar. Nothing makes you more aware of verb tense and person than a pop quiz in Spanish class!
I know now why our great teachers forced us to endure mental torture on beautiful spring days when we should have been outside playing. It was so I could write that previous sentence with confidence.
Which one are you?
Are you the writer who makes an appointment each day or week to sit down and write for a set period of time? Or are you the writer who can only write when inspiration strikes?
If you know me, you know I’m a bit of a slob. I blame it on left-handedness and the need to keep tasks visible on my desk. Similarly, I find schedules really kill my hard on for writing. Right brain thinkers, in general, don’t do well with discipline. It tends to do exactly the opposite to which it was intended. Hand me a rigorous schedule, I will spend the rest of the day figuring out how and when I can skip everything on it.
Writing and a corporate job are tough for folks like me. If inspiration strikes between 8 and 5 Monday thru Friday, I can only scribble my thoughts on a notepad on my break. Technically. Google Docs is a game changer, but I don’t want to go down that road with you today.
If Inspiration strikes while I am home, great. I can usually finish dinner or pause my Netflix show and write. Weekends are the best. I’ve published four literary novels writing primarily on inspired weekends. If I’m in a visual mood, I might design a cover. If I’m bored with my literary fiction, I switch to my smut persona. I’ve published twelve smut novels and/or short stories under a different character. They’re short, so don’t think my ratio is 3:1 smut to legit fiction…it’s really pretty balanced.
If my right brain needs a rest, I take time to re-read and edit my work. If it’s ready to go, I format it for publishing and write marketing blurbs. Yesterday I re-did a cover of a poorly performing pulp novel about coal mining. I drew a scantily clad miner covered in coal dust. I took a snap of the drawing and ran it through some filters and editing tools until I got him the right size and width. Then I re-skinned my eBooks and changed the cover on the paperback. Just for fun I wrote a hook and tacked it to the front of the blurb. I don’t know if it worked yet. The changes went live this morning. But I didn’t write much…it was a burst of inspiration of another kind.
Do you write at a set time and place? Are you prone to bursts of inspiration? Share your thoughts!
I discovered that all four of my book blurbs were lacking “the hook”, that killer first line that makes a casual book shopper want to read the rest of the book description. I added hook lines to all my blurbs a few days ago. It should not be “keyword optimized”, but rather a well-crafted plain English one-line pitch for the book.
- 5150 – Psychosis is not for the faint of heart.
- Half – A halfway house is a terrible place to fall in love.
- M3X1(0 – During the 1988 financial crisis in Mexico, even a broke, homeless American could live like a king.
- A Quarter – The only thing worse than being mentally ill is being mentally ill and strung out on dope.
These hooks mark my best efforts, but maybe some of my readers have better suggestions. Creative writers, even with an MBA, are not always the best at self-promotion!
It wasn’t until I wrote the fourth book (A Quarter) that I at last had one of those “know thyself” moments. I have been laid off or fired from nearly two dozen jobs. I’m smart, very good at solving problems…but I don’t fit in with corporate culture. I don’t even fit in with anti-establishment culture. Here is an incomplete inventory of the jobs where I had to quit or was let go for incompetence, under-agedness, or spite:
- Vallejo Times Herald – Paper boy
- William Morris Reproductions – Wallpaper sample pack creator
- Union Hotel – Busboy
- Varsity Theater – Ticket vendor
- Second Coming Records – Store clerk
- Patricia Field – Shop girl
- Milk Bar – Janitor and Barback
- Diggery Inn – Dishwasher
- Stud Bar Barback
- Sparky’s – Prep cook
- Grubstake – Dishwasher
- International Center -Towel boy
- Marcello’s Pizza – cashier
- Broadmoor Hotel – Slave/Waiter
- Peachy’s Puffs – Cigarette boy
- New Line Cinema – 3rd Production Accountant
- Tupperware Lady
- Sixteen to Life – Assistant to Executive Producer
- Married to the Kellys – Assistant to Line Producer
- New Line Cinema – Product placement assistant
- Ascent Media – Project manager
- Miller Group – Advertising account manager
- Deluxe Media – Billing process manager
A few jobs in my life were a decent match. They ended for reasons like a major geographical move, or widespread layoffs:
- Marriott’s Great America – Self-reflexive juice salesman
- Tower Records – Store clerk
- TimeShare Consultants – Phone sex bookkeeper filer and dog walker
- Italian Welfare Agency – Social worker
- Italian Cultural Institute – Event promoter, News segment producer and Radio DJ
- Lavender Lounge – Segment producer
- New Line Cinema -Post production accountant
- Verestar – Global account manager
- The Acres – Musician
- La Lucha – Producer/Director/Writer/Editor
- Deluxe Media – Manager – Overseas Back Office
- Psychotic Break Series – Author
The primary pattern: I need to express myself and feel good about the work I’m doing. I need to be in a group of similarly creative and quirky outcasts. I have waxing and waning periods of creativity and energy, so I need to have a job that lets me make my own hours or is only intermittent work. Travel and languages keep me interested for a while, too. Tower Records was a really great group of people. I loved working there. Second Coming Records was hell in a glass box. I write about them in the prequel. Several people who worked there have been diagnosed with PTSD. So, if I’m going to work for the man, the boss better be cool.
I started 5150 in 1997. It’s taken 22 years to go from a single manuscript to a complete series. I honed my craft. I learned to self-publish. I opened my inner life up to public scrutiny. It has been a rewarding journey. As I pen the last words to the fifth book (a prequel to the series) I complete the tale of an incredibly difficult period in my life. It makes me grateful for all I have now. My dog just sighed and gave me the eye. What a wonderful life.
The prequel is in progress.
The e-book of 5150 is free on Smashwords. Go to 5150 on Smashwords.com You will see that it is set to “name your own price.” This means you can pay $0.00, or anywhere from $0.99 and up, depending on how generous you feel. I want the book to be available to the families, friends and loved ones of people who have had or who are having a psychotic episode. It will give you tremendous insight into the chaos inside their heads, and probably help you sort out what some of it means to them.
I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas. That’s how depression feels. T.S. Eliot may have been depressed.
I have a coworker who used to be my boss. He’s got an aggressive, confrontational style of communicating. He takes every opportunity to bully me.
I am an introvert, with a strong non-violent, passive streak. This guy brings out the worst in me: passive aggression. He is down in the boxing ring with his gloves on, waiting to throw a punch, when he suddenly realizes I am in the control booth, and I turned off all the lights.
Working with people like my ex-boss is draining. I suppose they are inevitable in every environment. My current boss suggests that I take some assertiveness training. I will.
I found out today that my eyesight is getting worse because of cataracts. They have not formed, but they are in the stages of forming. My prescription for reading glasses more than doubled. I used to have perfect vision at long range, so there is no need for bifocals yet. I guess I will have to undergo Lasik, or else wear glasses for the rest of my life. Part of it is just a symptom of getting old. Some of it is medication and being overweight.
“I grow old, I grow old. I shall wear my trousers rolled.” T.S. Eliot
I started gravitating towards the family religion last year. The religion is known by a lot of different names, but I prefer to call it “psychic stuff.” I grew up around it. My mother wrote a book called Psychic Dangers when I was 11 years old. She interviewed a lot of psychics, and then “picked up a bad entity.” She was in a panic, fearing for not just herself, but my stepfather and me, too.
After tearing the manuscript into pieces, my mother then asked us all to join her while she drove down to the Vallejo Marina, at the mouth of the Napa River. She put the torn manuscript into a garbage bag, added a few bricks, tied it shut, then threw it into the water. The bag burst open, scattering the pieces of paper all through the Marina. They floated mockingly on the surface of the water like a thousand white lily pads. Frightened, my mother herded us back into the rust bucket and drove us back to the trailer.
When Mom later discovered Tibetan Buddhism, it was a relief. I used to get punished for “giving off bad vibes,” but now I was just asked to sit quietly, which was easy, especially when the WWF was on cable. So when psychics and channelers and Reiki Grand Masters paraded back into my life last year, I maintained a healthy skepticism.
I was feeling like crap, so I figured it would be a good idea to listen to the free psychic shows on the Internet. They did help, particularly the shows that included a guided meditation. While listening, I noticed a lot of unspoken memes that were reverberating across the crackpotsphere. Here are some observations:
1. All angels speak with an Indian accent
2. There was “a cosmic shift” in 2012, according to younger psychics.
3. Older psychics maintain that the shift happened in the 1970s.
4. We are “currently living in the fifth dimension,” and “science has shown it to be true.”
5. Reality appears to many people as a grid.
6. The grid contains “sacred geometry”
7. Powerful practitioners can transfer a grid across time and space via the telephone or the Internet.
8. Many people came to psychic stuff after reaching a spiritual bottom in the Entertainment industry.
9. The Christ Consciousness IS the 5th Dimension. Science has not backed up this assertion.
10. If the current psychic stuff movement were organized, it would be presided over by Esther Hicks, and Abraham the Angel.