Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Dear Merriam Webster types,

I am writing to you today to respectfully inform you of a grievous error I recently discovered in one of your texts.  On page 596 of my copy of your dictionary I found this entry:

suc·cess              noun \sək-ˈses\

1 obsolete : outcome, result
2 a : degree or measure of succeeding b : favorable or desired outcome; also : the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
3 : one that succeeds

I'm sure you can already identify the glaring error as everyone who has ever attended elementary school and learned nifty spelling tricks can tell you "success," as you so glibly put it, is spelled: ccss.  All you have to do is double the c and then double the s and you know you have ccss.  Thank you for giving this matter the utmost of your time and attention.  


P.S.  Please also switch the spellings of desert and dessert.  The old saying of, "dessert has 2 s' and that is the one you always want more of" has no place in this obesity crisis.  Don't you watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution?  If you would kindly change it, people would have a better appreciation of an underrated ecosystem and I wouldn't have to look at as many people's frontbutts.  

P.S II  Also please add the word frontbutts as I cannot find it where it belongs, delicately sandwiched between the words "frontal" and "frontward".

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oddz N' Endz

Howdy!  Miss me yet?  Sorry I've been gone for awhile.  My computer isn't back yet and I'm on a loaner.  

-Two weeks ago I was in Texas for a wedding.  I got this flask for a friend:

 I'm sure Davy had no idea how meaningful his quote would be to the Austin airport gift shop industry. 

-In light of technical difficulties and wanting to have a relaxing/productive summer I'm shutting down MTMWT and the mailbag for the summer.

-It was pointed out to me that my email wasn't listed in my profile.  Ooops!  If you want to ask a question or be featured for MTMWT send me an email at clp3333(at)hotmail[dot]com(munications)  It's also in the profile now.  

-Last but not least I'm working on a draft that will be ready next week & I will need some crits for it (about 2 more.)  It's a chapter book, 7k word count.  I'll return the favor.  Email me if interested.  Since time is limited this summer I might turn you down if you're some chic-lit writer or author of 1,000pg historical non-fiction(unless it's about lobsters.)


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Music To Make Write To Starring Stephanie M. Loree

This week I'm delighted to have Stephanie M. Loree (there's supposed to be some mark thing over the first "e" but I don't know how to make that work and I'm from Nebraska so I'm pretty sure I can play my I Don't Get It card.)  Again no dance video, but she does have a travel video guide of the great state of Alaska on her blog.  Very informative.

Whatever story I'm working on, different music calls to me.  Generally instrumental music is my muse's key, like my fave Philip Glass.  But for my current project, alternative rock seems to be what the pages want.

#1: The Cave by Mumford & Sons

- Pretty much the inspiration piece for my antagonist.  Whenever I'm writing about him, I have to play The Cave on repeat.  The entire Mumford & Sons album, "Sigh No More" has had a great influence on my writing.

#2: Rabbit Heart (Raise it Up) by Florence & the Machine

- Contrasted to #1, Rabbit Heart is my protagonist's theme song.  The driving beat and mix of rock/electronic in this song is what really pulls me in, and the lyrics are fab.  I usually listen to their entire "Lungs" album as I'm writing.

#3: Guilty Filthy Soul by AWOLNation

- This band sucked me right in when I first heard them only a few months ago.  I love the play on this song's lighter beat with darker lyrics.  It's so happy, even with that whole guilty filthy soul thing!

---Stephanie M. Lorée

Monday, June 13, 2011

Technical difficulty

My computer has died. I may be without for two weeks. Stephanie Loree will be here tomorrow for music to make write to. Peace in.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Word Count for Lower Grade Chapter Books

Fact:  I write the most under-heard-of sub-genre of children's books in Earth's history.  I write Lower-Grade.  I can hear some of you scoffing from here and saying, you mean Middle Grade, right?  Nope.  MG novels average 20k-30k words. 
When I started writing I felt kind of lost, but really there is a lot less information about these books and how to write them than there is for MG or YA.  

One of the things I discussed with my critiquer at SCBWI of the Dakotas was how my low word count (5.8k) might be pegging me into a corner I don't want to be in.  She asked where I got my word count range and I told her I had actually counted the first book in the Magic Tree House series.  At the time it seemed brilliant.  I had a story to tell, but had no idea how to tell it, so I used a framework from a successful series I was familiar with.  So I counted, took for stinkin' ever, then I made sure my chapters were within 100 words of that number, just as a basis to keep the total word count within range.  Sometimes I would go under, sometimes over, but it helped me stick to the only reference for chapter and book length I had.  Actually my critiquer thought it was a good idea and was impressed I had a basis other than, "I heard it on the interwebz," but she still felt my writing fits a little higher level than Magic Tree House.

Magic Tree House #1 is 4,740 (my books were a little under 1k more than that.)
Here is the breakdown per chapter too, which I found helpful for reference.
Magic Tree House Dinosaurs at Dawn
Chapter 1: 303
Chapter 2: 536
Chapter 3: 390
Chapter 4: 420
Chapter 5: 625
Chapter 6: 683
Chapter 7: 344
Chapter 8: 324
Chapter 9: 523
Chapter 10: 592
Average Chapter length 475 words, Range 380 words, Mode <400 words, Median  420,523

Now I'm in process of getting my books to a length closer to Time Warp Trio books. (which range from 6.5k-11k  (yep, counted one of them too.) 

Viking It And Liking It (8,232)
Chapter 1: 688
Chapter 2: 803
Chapter 3: 1,189
Chapter 4: 712
Chapter 5: 842
Chapter 6: 498
Chapter 7: 978
Chapter 8: 906
Chapter 9: 398
Chapter 10: 964
Chapter 11: 254
Average Chapter length 748 words, Range 935 words, Median 803 words.
Jon was a little all over the place in terms of chapter length.  That range is almost 300 words more than my longest chapter.  From these numbers I learned: a) counting is not fun. b) There are no set rules for chapter length in a publishable book.  c) Having an average does help set limits and determine chapter breaking points.
I'm going to count a few more in the future (Judy Moody, Ready Freddy) and I'll post the break downs.  I think it's an important reference and just can't really find this info anywhere else.  If anyone wants to count some for me, let me know :)  Happy writing.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Music To Make Write To Starring... Cheese?

For those of you hoping for cheesy music or music picked by a block of Swiss cheese, sorry.  But We do Have Abe aka "Cheese Boy" from Blog O' Cheese here to discus his favorite writing tunes. Oh, There's a dance video (with pirates!) this week!  Follow this link: This Link.  Here are the Picks:

I almost always listen to music while I blog.  I am honored to be asked to share three of my favorite songs to listen to.

Given that my blog is a humor blog, you might think that I listen to humorous or upbeat music while I write.  While that is often the case, I am also often inspired by darker, more intense tunes.  Either way, here are three that have helped me the last couple of years.

1. The Temper Trap - Love Lost 

I love this Australian band's sound.  It is upbeat and haunting at the same time. While you may have heard their hit single "Sweet Disposition" on various movies and commercials, it is this song that is their best so far. It's sweeping melody and perfectly timed pauses are perfect for inspiring great writing.

2. The National - Bloodbuzz Ohio

If you like heavy baritone vocals and tense, drawn out lyrics, The National is for you.  Their entire album last year, "High Violet" was insanely good, but it was this song that I would put on repeat while trying to capture the perfect post.  The driving beat and drawn-out-build always put me in the right frame of mind for writing. 

3. Vampire Weekend - White Sky 
Writing comedy is often very difficult and occasionally I need to be put in a light, airy frame of mind.  No band does this better than Vampire Weekend. My sons love to sing along to this song and its unusual chorus.  When I need to feel goofy and carefree to inspire a post, no song does it better than White Sky.


Monday, June 6, 2011

Fun N' Games

Today's post is a part of Alex Cavanaugh's Fun And Games Blog Type Party

The goal is to list your three favorite games of all time.  This is really hard for me for some reason.  I'm going to list one game for each of the major categories of gamagehood.

Sport: College Basketball
Let's face it, the NBA is meh.  But college basketball is amazing and summer is officially the longest time of the year whilst I wait for it. 

Board Type Game:  Hungry Hungry Hippos
It was tough not to go with Risk, but this is basically the same thing but faster and more violent.  

Video Games:  This category is tough as it is hard to not put every Legend of Zelda or Grand Theft Auto game.  I'm a sucker for free map games.  The best made to date has to be Fallout 3.  

Come back tomorrow for Music to Make Write to With Cheese Boy.
The next person on the blog fest is here.


Friday, June 3, 2011

Book Reviewish Thing: 4th Stall

I met Chris Rylander at SCBWI of the Dakotas this year.  His new book, out this past Feb. is The 4th Stall.  It is a MG novel with a kind of Mafia meets middle-school vibe.  The basic premise is that Mac, a sixth grader, runs a business out of an abandoned bathroom stall at his school.  High-schoolers muscle in on his business and hilarity ensues.  It's the perfect Middle Grade book for boys.  Humor is excellent.  He uses a lot of obscure references, but does a nice job of explaining them.  I enjoyed it.  You will too.

Things I jotted down that will help me with my writing:
-By the end of the first page I get: The character, his friendship, his business.  A lot of other things are set up in a small space too.  

-Does a nice job of dropping character description in the first chapter despite 1st person narrator with statements like, "Right now you're asking how a blue-eyed... brown hair... could ever run a business like this."

-Chapter 2 really sets up the problem and tension, though tension was given in chap 1, it is elaborated upon.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

Question: Funny On Command

Hey folks!  I need more ?'s and participants for MTMWT.  If you have interest in either give me a holler via email or comments.

This week's question comes from Janet Sumner Johnson of Fairfax, Delaware.  Janet writes:

Dear Chris,
I hope you got the $5 I sent with this e-mail. I inserted it in the slot on my console. Crossing my fingers it gets me on your blog.
My question is about humor since that seems to be your thing. My husband and I have this disagreement, and maybe you can settle it for us: Is it possible to be funny on command? If so, prove it. :)
Your faithful follower in Fairfax

I am going to assume you are not asking if I can fart on command (yes btw,) which is hilarious.  But rather I think your question is focused around being at a party or some other interaction and someone says, "Oh, hey, this is Chris.  He's funny.  Chris, say something funny."
That is what I refer to as funny man's kryptonite.  It's not that I can't come up with something funny per say, but that I don't want to waste any good one-liners with such a poor setup and such high anticipation.  The person has this unrealistic perception that I'm going to juggle pies or something, and I might just do that, but it isn't as funny if people are expecting it and I'm just carting pies around for nothing.  

Good bail outs:
"Oh, __insert_name__ you're so kind!  This guy is really kind.  Go ahead, do something kind.  Like right now.  In front of me."

"A blond a brunette and a redhead walked into a bar.  None of them would go home with me."

"Something funny.  Oh, I kill me!" <Then laugh like it was funny for an awkward amount of time, stop and then laugh again.  Add in some coughs and wheezes too.
Really this is a terrible situation to be in and the best way to be funny is off the top of your head and by drinking large quantities of alcohol.  


p.s. How old is your computer to have a slot?  If the fiver starts smoking, take it out and mail it to me.