Difficult Voices: First Person Plural

First person is a very common voice for writers to use in fiction, especially in mysteries and crime thrillers; this voice allows the reader to discover the plot as it unfolds through the protagonists eyes.

Harold said, “I never knew her.” But I knew he was lying. I knew for a fact that Harold and Liz went to school together, shared a few classes and even dated for a while after they graduated. Why was he lying? I decided not to press the point just yet; I’d dangle a rope and see if he’d hang himself first.

First person can be limiting because the reader can only experience what the POV character knows, or experiences.  This means that the scope of the novel needs to be fairly tight.  Using multiple POV characters (first person serial) can expand the view considerably. Generally this is done by letting characters take turns in relating events as the story unfolds. Sometimes someone does something unusual such as in Levi Montgomery’s The Death of Patsy McCoy where the same story is retold through the eyes of several characters and each retelling reveals new facets of the complete story. Continue reading Difficult Voices: First Person Plural

A Whisper or a Brick – Communicating with God

Last night Marie was coming home with a pick-up truck load of groceries. It was late, it had been a busy day for both of us and she knew I was tired too; lugging a weeks worth of groceries up to our house from the workshop was not something I would be looking forward to. She reached over and pressed the Four Wheel High button on the dash – and it ENGAGED! This was a great surprise since it had been fluky for a while, working sometimes, not working at others, but mostly not. She happily swung into our driveway and came crawling up the steep gravel grade. I was working at the computer in our dining area, the windows of which look out over our driveway and I wondered who had gotten lost – I sure wasn’t expecting it to be Marie! Continue reading A Whisper or a Brick – Communicating with God

Encounter at Copperhead

Here’s another creepy tail of adventure for Halloween month.

I had completed my morning gardening chores, made my mail run, had lunch, gotten the riding mower out and was starting my mowing when I spotted a snake crawling out of a hole in the underpinning (skirting) of my workshop – a mobile home that was on the property when we bought it and served as our home until we were able to build a house. It looked a lot like a copperhead. Or at least what I remembered a copperhead to look like. But before I went into snake eradication mode I decided to do some fact checking: sometimes good snakes have coloring very similar to the bad snakes, and I don’t want to kill a King Snake because I mistook it for a viper. Continue reading Encounter at Copperhead

Book Review: Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge

Stopover at the Backworlds Edge by MPaxStopover at the Backworlds’ Edge is the second book in Mary Pax’s Backworlds series about bio-engineered human life forms that were created to be able to thrive in the harsh environments of planets that are not exactly, “Earth Normal”.

The Story

In this tale we find Craze and his new-found friends from the first book encamped at Pardeep Station, a sort of rest stop along the galactic interstate system, except Pardeep is out in the sticks, galactically speaking, and not an especially inviting place to go.

Continue reading Book Review: Stopover at the Backworlds’ Edge

Snakes Alive!

Sometimes we find adventures – or inspiration for fictional adventures – in the common occurrences of every day life.  Since this is Halloween month, I’m going to share with you some ‘creepy’ stories from my life.

My buddy Mike, who lives in Alabama, was weeding in his yard the other day.  He reached into a clump of plants and found a large snake skin.  Fortunately that snake skin was uninhabited!  He has a lot of copperheads around there and copperheads are just flat-out mean!

king snake, snakes,
Photo of and from Brian O’Hare – Snake Wrangler

My bro, Brian picked up a new golf partner, fortunately it was just a King snake.

I found a snake skin hanging off a hickory tree beside the house a while back.  From the size of it I’d say mine was from a black snake – it was pretty big.  We’ve seen black snakes around here get 6’ to 8’ in length.  I came across one just the other day while I was mowing the grass – he was only about 4 feet.  He hopped and wriggled comically to get away from the mower then slithered through a chink in the skirting under the trailer.

Note to self: next time I have to go under the trailer for something; MAKE A LOT OF NOISE! Continue reading Snakes Alive!

Difficult Voices: Second Person in Fiction – Bully

bully, bullying, writing, second person
via BullyingProject.com

Second Person as a writing voice is quite common in non-fiction, particularly instructive non-fiction: “First you do this, then you do that, make sure you haven’t forgotten to lock down the sniggletharp.”  Sometimes the ‘you’ is implied, “Insert tab A into slot B and twist to lock”.  But second person, though uncommon, can also be used in fiction and can be used quite effectively.

In first person, the reader may choose to become the character or may simply ‘listen’; “I noticed my shoe was untied and crouched to remedy the situation just as something whizzed close over my head.  Had I been standing just then it would have caught me across my chest.” The reader may interpret that statement as being the character or may accept it as though sitting across the table from a friend, each with a cup of coffee as he tells about an adventure.

Third person is a detached view, but far more versatile, “Dudley noticed his shoe was untied and stooped to remedy the situation just as the length of pipe flew across the room.  Had he still been standing, it would have caught him in the chest. Snydley snarled as the pipe missed its target, ‘Curses, foiled again.'” Continue reading Difficult Voices: Second Person in Fiction – Bully

Who Is Really Poor

And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.

2 Corinthians 9:8 NLT

Plow Work

Dr. Roy L. Laurin tells of a Christian businessman who was traveling in Korea. In a field by the side of the road was a young man pulling a crude plow while an old man held the handles. The businessman was amused and took a snapshot of the scene. “That is curious! I suppose these people are very poor,” he said to the missionary who was interpreter and guide to the party.

“Yes,” was the quiet reply, “these two men happen to be Christians. When their church was being built, they were so eager to give something toward it, but they had no money. So they decided to sell their one and only ox and give the proceeds to the church. This spring they are pulling the plow themselves.” Continue reading Who Is Really Poor

The Real History of Hill Folk and the Hillbilly Image

NOTE: This article was originally published elsewhere, but my copyright obligation there has been fulfilled and since it is one of my favorite articles – I’ve posted it here.  If it looks familiar to some of you; you may have seen it before. 

Hillbillies in Popular Fiction

When people encounter the term “Hillbilly” they often think of characters such as Snuffy Smith. Hillbillies are often characterized as shiftless, lazy, shine-running, hicks who live in such isolation they’re out of step with the world. A lot of this impression comes from popular cartoon strips.

Although the Appalachian mountain people had been living in these mountains since the 1700’s, it wasn’t until the early-to-mid 1930s that they become popular in American entertainment. In comic strips, Joe Palooka did an extended sequence about a mountain man named Big Leviticus in 1933; and in ’34 the author of that sequence, Al Capp, started his most famous work, Li’l Abner. And Billy DeBeck was heavily researching Appalachian culture in preparation of introducing a new character to his Barney Google strip – and a major change in the direction of his work: Snuffy Smith.[1]

The origins of the term “hillbilly” are obscure. According to Anthony Harkins in Hillbilly: A Cultural History of an American Icon , the term first appeared in print in a 1900 New York Journal article, with the definition: “a Hill-Billie is a free and untrammeled white citizen of Alabama, who lives in the hills, has no means to speak of, dresses as he can, talks as he pleases, drinks whiskey when he gets it, and fires off his revolver as the fancy takes him.” Continue reading The Real History of Hill Folk and the Hillbilly Image

Road Tripping with Cochise

road trip, dog, truck, riding

Hi again, Cochise here.  Hairy Face, Nice Lady and I went on a road trip today.  Lady wanted to go to Jefferson City and visit the only Wal-Mart in our region that still stocks fabric.  She wants to make a new bed skirt and curtains for their bedroom and does not like ordering fabric off the internet.  Fabric is something you need to see and feel before buying to know if it’s what you want. At least, that’s what she tells me, I wouldn’t know; any old blanket makes me happy.  Unfortunately when we got there she found that this store too has eliminated the fabric department: that’s Wal-Mart for you.

Hairy and I didn’t go into Wal-Mart; we found an oasis (round patch of grass with a tree on it) in the asphalt desert where we sat in the shade and had a great time watching all the people scurrying to and fro. Hairy behaved very well. So did I. When Lady came back I hopped right back up into the truck and was ready to ride some more.  I love riding! Continue reading Road Tripping with Cochise

Book Review: The Cowchip Café (Cowchip Al)

The Cowchip Café (Cowchip, Al) by Norman Morrison.  Reviewed in Kindle format. Book length is listed as 45 printed pages. Price: $0.99 at Amazon.com.

The Story

Cowchip Cafe, eBook, sci-fi, norman MorrisonThe Cowchip Café by Norman Morrison is a delightful novelette set mostly in the only restaurant in the small rural town of Cowchip Alabama.  The cast of characters include:

  • Lewis Stubbs: the restaurant owner, rebel, idealist.
  • Port Love: the cook. An older black man living in a typical southern town and dealing graciously with the prejudice that entails.
  • An assortment of “old farts” having their weekly get-together for coffee and tale swapping. Included is the former town mayor.
  • And a nutty alien who orders a burger and triple hash browns before threatening to destroy the planet.

Along the way we learn something of the town of Cowchip Alabama’s quirky history, how Lewis came to own the restaurant, and some interesting background on Port Love. The “old farts” discussion includes a flash of light seen the night before and their experiences (real or imagined) with alien visitation.  The Mayor’s diplomatic background comes into play in resolving the current instance of otherworldly invasion. Continue reading Book Review: The Cowchip Café (Cowchip Al)