Sunday, March 31, 2013

An Impending Burst of Gramma' Radiation

As some of you guys already know, I have the singular honor of presenting a class at this year's DFW Writer's Conference.  It's called "No Mustard on Your Shirt: Spill-Proofing Your Grammar and Style."

Here's the description:

It's a truth every interviewee knows:  there's nothing more tragic than missing out on your dream job because the interviewer can't see past the stain on your collar.  In this class, we'll tackle the grammar and style mistakes that even experienced writers make, and highlight winning strategies for scrubbing them out of your manuscript.  Don't give your reader even one easy reason to toss your work aside: come learn how to put the "pro" in your prose!

(And now a brief pause for pimping: the conference is going to be PHENOMENAL.  I am so pumped about the class line-up this year, and they've got enough agents and editors to choke a horse.  Get it on this quick if you want to go: regular registration ends on Thursday!)

Anyway, in anticipation of the conference, and in tandem with this year's Blogging from A to Z Challenge, I'm doing something I'll probably regret.  Each day in the month of April (Sundays excluded), I'm going to write about a different grammar issue and post it here.

"Tex, you mad fool!" you may exclaim.  "You'll never make it!"

Possibly not.  But I'm going to try!

"Well, good luck, I guess," you might concede.  "But all that wittering on about commas and prepositions - isn't it going to be ruinously boring?"

I'll let you be the judge of that...

Am I jumping the gun, Baldrick, or are the words "I have a cunning plan" marching with ill-deserved confidence in the direction of this conversation?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Unbearable Likeness of Beans

See, my sister and I each got a bean plant as a present from our mom in January.  They're "magic beans", like you can order from a catalogue, that have a little message branded onto the seed pod.  Don't judge us.

So we each set up our plants on our respective windowsills, watered them, the whole nine yards.  (Though given that we're talking about bean plant maintenance, that should maybe be "the whole two inches.")  Eight weeks later, here they are:

Yeah, you can probably guess which one is mine.  (Though I will have you know that I do own an identical armadillo statue, and it is being used for God's intended purpose, which is the holding of a souvenir beer bottle.  I said don't judge us, dammit.)

As you can see, my pathetic plant has pasted itself to the glass, consumed by solar frustration.  Hers sprawls out in an orgiastic display of chlorophilia, wantonly flashing its under-leaves like a celebutante stepping out of a Bentley.

And I've had a hard time looking at these little life-forms, because they keep reminding me of what I could have, should be, must get to doing.  "Look," they say to me in their tiny leguminous voices, "it's not rocket science.  If you put it in the sun, it will grow.  The longer you leave it there, the quicker it will happen.  If it's not in the sun, it's in the shade - there's no such thing as in-between."

I know, right - big talk from somebody whose major life goal apparently involves seducing the paper towels.

So anyway, there I was, my magic bean a flaccid symbol for my every personal failing.

Then I had a great chat with Jenny Martin (who's awesome enough that she probably shouldn't be talking to me, but does anyway.)  Read INTERN's Real Actual Hilary's "Writing is A Job Like Any Other, and Other Angry Ghosts."  Followed that up with an e-mail from a friend of mine, who is making a veritable Charge of the Light Brigade against a whole slew of health problems and striving like the dickens for standard human functionality.  Got to thinking some more.

I don't blame my plant for not growing.  It's living in a second-floor apartment with no east-west windows, so of course it's not getting enough light.

And yet it's so hard to forgive ourselves likewise.  There's this notion that since everyone has the same number of hours in a day, we all have an equal opportunity to get things accomplished.  We seem not to account for the fact that our little window-shelves don't all face the same way, that hours in a day aren't the same as daylight hours, that we aren't all issued identical quantities of fruitful, useable, potentially productive time.

So I've decided:  I will continue to feel bad when I waste my own personal daylight - when I have the time and energy and choose to squander it on Nothing Especially.

But I will not be guilted by other people's success, and I will make damn sure that I don't get haughty about mine.  All we can guarantee is that seasons do change, for better and for worse, and the success we've had to date says as much about the conditions we grew it in as it does about us personally.

Plus, you don't want to be the cheap tart flashing your axillary buds at every passing poinsettia, because oh my God, gauche.

The human bean is not a vegetable.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


You guys, I am so dang excited about this new site.  Like you don't even know. 

Please let me know whether anything is broken or wonky - CSS is as much a marvel to me as oyster forks and public transit, but I want this thing to be as mercilessly user-friendly as a Friday's waiter. 

Fresh content forthcoming!

Yeah man, I tell ya what, man, that dang ol’ internet, man, you just go in on there and point and click, talk about dubya-dubya-dot-dubya-com - mean you got the naked chicks on there, man, just go click click clickclickclickclick... ’s real easy, man.