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Judging

“The writing was superb, and for those who say no I ask you a question “Do you have a degree from a university in English? Have you written a novel? If you answered no to both question well you are not qualified as a professional to discuss writing.”

That’s an actual quote from someone to another party who didn’t like the book they were reviewing, but that the commenter liked quite a lot.

And it’s one of the dumbest things I’ve ever read. You do not need an MFA, nor do you have to have a published novel  to review books and pass judgment on the writing in a book, just as you don’t need to have played professional football (or to have played football at all) to know that a not-so-stellar quarterback – which, alas, Jax has had over and over and over again – throwing downfield back across his body is a bad idea 99% of the time.

Let me tell you this about writing: there are no rules for the art of writing. But there are rules about the craft of writing. These are two very different realms.

The art of writing may take you to the point of creating your own universe, or only having left handed people in your book, or deciding time is a useless construct.

But the craft of writing means you need to get these things across to people in a manner they can understand, and in a manner that jibes with the world you’re in. Did you write a high fantasy novel? If so, having someone tell another person “Later!” as they’re leaving is poor craftsmanship, and a break in the mindset of the reader.  Did you decide in your literary novel that you were not going to identify any characters, ever, in dialogue, leading to confusion on the part of your readers as to who is saying what? Bad idea. Does your thriller have saidisms absolutely everywhere, with people intoning, muttering, spitting, without them every just saying something – or with people “intoning gravely” or “muttering resignedly” or “spitting angrily” versus “saying”? Not good.

What you do need to do: use grammar properly. If you think you must write in the dialect of one character, don’t do it every time the character speaks, and don’t do a wall of text from that character in dialect. When the character first speaks, sure, do the dialect thing. Then let it go, as you’ve planted it in the mind of the reader. Readers are pretty smart. They’ll get it.

Likewise, make sure your continuity is good.  Unless you are specifically writing third person omniscient, don’t go into all the characters’ heads. And even if you are, don’t head hop in a single paragraph. Don’t switch from first person to third person in the middle of a paragraph or chapter. This is confusing. Don’t change from present tense to past tense in the middle of the book unless you are moving to something that has happened in the past. If you have a character named Stan at the beginning of the book, don’t start calling him Dan somewhere in Chapter Six. If Stan has dark, shoulder-length hair, don’t make him blonde with a buzzcut three chapters later unless you show us this or at least explain it.

And don’t – DO NOT – wade into your one or two star reviews and tell someone who disliked your book that they’re stupid and obviously don’t know what’s going on in the world. That’s a one way ticket to be put on peoples’ “Never Read” list.

DO write your book. DON’T make it boring.

Until next time, peeps: be well.

 

Sleepytime

The alternate title for this post is: when wordpress is being A Idiot, as wonkette would say. As I’ve told people from time to time, sometimes I’m astonished any of this works at all.

At the moment, WP is not allowing me to upload from its own interface, which means I have to crank up filezilla and upload stuff manually. It isn’t difficult, but it surely is annoying.

I should probably warn everyone that there will be an abundance of chicken and bee related rambling and photos in this here blawg over the next few months. In a bit over a week, my brother – very handy with all sorts of tools and building stuff – will be up and will be helping to build a chickshaw for the mobile layers. Well, let’s be honest here: he’ll be building it, and I’ll be filming it, and “supervising”, trying to stay out of his way.

I’ve probably mentioned that the layers will be separated: one group in the existing coop, ranging in the chickenyard, and the other group in the chickshaw, which I’ll be moving around to areas that will benefit from their scratching and pecking and (of course) pooping. I must have put out of my mind the sheer amount of poop chickens – and chicks! – produce. I changed the pads in the brooder and cleaned out and refilled their water, and when I went to check on them for the last time today, there’s poop all over the place. Ah, well, this is what you get when you choose to get closer to your food.

My plan is to get the NOC stuff done early, hit up Tractor Supply for some bedding material for these girls, and get them some pine shavings in their brooder. That should both absorb more and knock the smell down a bit. What can you do? They’re no different than any babies, human or not: eat, drink, sleep, poop.

I had mentioned to Stacy the other day, after getting the chicks reset with clean everything, that I hate seeing people buy dyed chicks or rabbits for their kids for easter. A rabbit might be cuddly, but they are both livestock, and I wonder just what the heck those people do when that cute, fuzzy little chick grows up into something resembling its evolutionary ancestor. I have a suspicion that they just kill them and discard them, or just abandon them in a field or yard or something, because they’ve become too annoying to care for. Don’t do that, folks: if you know you don’t have what it takes to care for any livestock you get, whether it’s chicks and bunnies, or bees and goats, don’t get them, please. There’s nothing wrong with not wanting to care for a chicken or rabbit, but don’t put yourself into the situation deliberately, knowing what you know about yourself.

Medium-sized rant over. I’m putting some kind of sleep thing down my tube at the moment, and we’ll see if this is the golden ticket to dreamland. And yes, the original version of Willy Wonka is much better than the remake, just as the version of A Christmas Carol with Alastair Sim is the definitive version of that movie. Period.

We’ll end on that note today. Until next time (and until I can wrangle WP to do its jerb), peeps: be well.

 

 

A seed for every season

I’ll be going through seeds today and planning for next season. A lot of things are older and 2015 was a disastrous season for many reasons, one of which was poor germination rates. I’ll be tossing a bunch of things to go into the compost pile (where, no doubt, the things that fared poorly in the nicely tended beds I slaved over will germinate and grow into healthy, thriving plants) and ordering fresh seed for the coming year. If you have any special requests – Gabby​, I already have ghost and datil peppers on my list  let me know in some manner and I’ll add them to my list. I’m paring down the varieties this time, or at least intending to. There’s no telling what new shiny thing will catch my interest as I start going through the seed catalogs.