Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

Word Goals + Handy Progress Meter Tool

I know, the quality of a good story isn’t solely dependent on length, but I find it’s nice to have a general idea of how long I want my books to be.  During Camp NaNoWriMo, it was nice being able to track my progress towards achieving my writing goals with a handy little “progress bar,” especially once I’d passed the halfway point and on my way to the finish line!

I did a quick websearch for a “word goal counter progress bar widget” and came across this neat resource: a Word Meter Builder from Critique Circle.  You can embed this widget onto your site with some HTML code that they give you, and it’s straightforward enough that even an HTML ignoramus such as myself can get into the code and edit it as my word counts increase (and decrease).

Now, if you’ll look to the sidebar of this blog (if you’re viewing the Desktop version, that is), you’ll see three little word meters for my current major works in progress: Premonition (which has become my current pet project), Adventures with my Time-Traveling Uncle, and Elite Falcons: Hunted.

Mind you, those word goals are really just general, “at the very least,” sort of values.  I know my current story-writing capabilities, and I’m not going to resort to canned fillers to “puff up” a work to novel-length if it ends up being shorter than I expected.  And that happens pretty often! 😀

Well, that’s that.  Readers, I hope you’ll enjoy this new peek into my writing process. 🙂

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Posted in Alternate Endings, Fanfiction, Humor, Miscelaneous Musings, Novels, Reviews, Satire, Written Works

A Hyman Kaplan Fanfic Excerpt and One Lengthy Introduction

One of the books I inherited from my grandmother’s personal library was The Return of Hyman Kaplan by Leo Rosten.  It is the sequel to the infamous Education of Hyman Kaplan, which Rosten penned under the sagely-sounding pseudonym, Leonard Q. Ross.  I read them both, out of order, and enjoyed them immensely.  The Hyman Kaplan duology chronicles the misadventures of an olden day night school teacher whose job is to ensure that his culturally diverse class of immigrants to the United States will have a firm grasp on our strange, native language.

Now, this would be a fairly simple process if not for the presence of a student named Hyman Kaplan, an eccentric fellow and a deep thinker who possesses a highly unique understanding of how English works – or should work.  He’s not stupid, you see; his reasoning is surprisingly (almost aggravatingly) philosophical, even if it comes out sounding incredibly silly.  Sometimes, his analysis technically makes sense, but when applied to the English language, it simply cannot work.  Other times, it simply doesn’t.  Either way, the end results are simply hilarious on so many levels.

To top it all off, he writes his name in the most unusual way.  With crayons.  In multiple colors.  And with little stars between each letter.  The minimally formatted text of this post simply cannot do it justice.

I was pretty young I read Hyman Kaplan for the first time.  Even if I didn’t quite get some of the references to the first book, at my young age, I understood enough of the humor, chuckled at the odd ways Mr. Kaplan philosophically butchers the English language, and understood most of the writing.  (“‘Scuse me, Grandma, what does ‘pedagogical’ mean?”)

The books really aren’t bad as books written for adults go, content-wise.  Its humor is intellectual and remains that way throughout the book.  If you love the English language in all of its idiosyncrasy, you’ll put these books back on the shelf with at least one fond memory to laugh about.

I recently looked through some of my old writings, and my eye fell on this story.  I picked it up.

Apparently, at some point, I had attempted to write a fanfiction of Hyman Kaplan, entitled The Employment of Hyman Kaplan.  If my memory serves me correctly, it was to detail the lives of Kaplan, his teacher, and his former classmates after they either graduated, quit, or (most likely in Kaplan’s case–) expelled from the American Night Preparatory School for Adults.

“Mr. Parkhill and the T*R*U*C*K D*R*I*V*E*R”

by Allison Q. Rose

 

It was a dark and stormy … well … evening, as Miss Olga Tarnova – an alumna – would have romantically described it.  (Even if it was snowing, or if it was just plain sunny, the Russian-born ballet dancer would have found some sort of dramatic method of categorizing the day.)

The American Night Preparatory School for Adults had just closed down for the night.  Adults of varying age and ethnicity clamored through the large glass double-doors, pouring out onto the street in clusters, conversing among themselves in their respective languages.  Whether they could actually understand each other remained a mystery.

Mr. Parkhill, a teacher at the school, eyed them all absent-mindedly from the open doorway.

This school (for those who do not already know) was a school for foreigners, new immigrants to the United States of America.  Here, they would learn to master the basics of the English language and its culture, by reading, writing and, most importantly, speaking English.  Being a rather small organization, the ANPSA held three classes: one being for beginners, the next for those who had mastered – and survived – the beginners’ grade, and another for the valedictorian candidates, who were usually the only students who could make it that far.  To most of the ANPSA’s students, the highest grade level seemed as unreachable and elusive as a distant star.

However, the faculty tried to encourage their ambitious charges to work to the best of their potentials, for one day, a rocket ship bearing good grades may one day take these students as far as that distant star.  Mr. Parkhill could only reassure himself in futility that this method of transportation was still in commission. Continue reading “A Hyman Kaplan Fanfic Excerpt and One Lengthy Introduction”

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Wordy Wednesday: Muffins Don’t Fly (Guest Post)

Check out my guest post on Julia the Writer Girl’s blog! My short story, “Muffins Don’t Fly,” can now be read there. 🙂 Thanks so much, Julia, for this opportunity!

Julia blogs about her experiences as a (formerly) teenage writer, featuring posts that take us behind the scenes of her writing process and, most recently, a chronicle of her recent trip to study abroad in England. Her posts are always full of inspiring anecdotes and good humor (I particularly enjoyed her posts on regionalisms and no longer being a teen writer). I hope you’ll check her blog out, if you haven’t already, because it’s awesome!

Julia the Writer Girl

I’m currently on vacation in Europe with la familia, so this week’s Wordy Wednesday is coming at’cha from super awesome guest writer Allison Rose!

Allison Rose has been writing seriously since the age of ten.  Since then, she has penned a handful of short stories; some longer, still unpublished works; and a variety of fanfictions. When she’s not writing stories, she’s reading them.

Aside from the time she cared for her grandmother’s cat, who loved cream cheese, dusty shelves, and scratching innocent people, Allison has owned no pets.  But she does have a blog, (as blogs are much easier to maintain,) which she invites you to check out at: http://www.allisonthewriter.wordpress.com.

And now, I have the honor of sharing Allison’s hilarious short story “Muffins Don’t Fly.” I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

*********

Muffins don’t fly, right? I mean, they’re food. You eat them. A muffin…

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Posted in Miscelaneous Musings, The Writing Life

More from Premonition and a Name for my Protagonist + AWTTU Updates

Here’s another scene from that story scrap I’ve been expanding upon for the last couple of days:

 An elderly couple I don’t recognize is walking down a mildly busy street.  The woman is wearing a bracelet around her wrist; she fiddles anxiously with the assorted baubles hanging from the golden chain.  Her purse is tucked under one arm.  The man swings his arms casually when he walks, as though he hasn’t a care in the world, but the ashen look on his face suggests otherwise.  There’s something on his mind.

 The woman turns to him and opens her mouth to speak.  I don’t hear the words.  I rarely do in these visions.

 My perspective changes to the pavement a few feet behind the couple.  A boy in a ragged hoodie and tattered jeans races down the sidewalk, glancing furtively over his shoulder every few seconds.  He’s in a hurry; he isn’t about to stop for some slow-moving old people.

 He barges right into them and keeps running.  There’s now a small, white rectangular object sticking out of his pants pocket, too.

 It takes a moment, but the woman reaches into her own pocket and realizes something’s missing.  I can imagine the sound of her startled cry as she points in the boy’s direction.

 But it’s too late.  The thief is already lost to them.

 The old lady’s face turns as white as the plastic of her stolen pocketbook.  She crumples to the ground, unconscious.

 

So far, I’ve made about 2,500 words words of progress with this project.  I’m currently trying to find a good closer for the most recent chapter and debating with my inner critic whether or not to include a flashback scene.  And, eventually, I’ll have to work in some explanations to how our protagonist’s powers work and when she first discovered them without making it all sound like an info-dump.

And speaking of our protagonist, I have a name for her based on the results of last week’s poll: Julia!

 

As for Adventures with my Time-Traveling Uncle, I’ve started revising bits and pieces from Chapters Two and Three to see if I can get the story to flow better that way.  (You can view the previous version of Chapter Three on Young Writer’s Society.  I just might revert back to it, but I’m going to consider other directions to take it first.)

To be honest, I’m noticing that my motivation for AWTTU is waning a little, hence my procrastination levels are going up big-time with the project. 😛  I can either wait for more inspiration before I write more, or I can force myself and produce something that’s as much of a labor of love as some awful math homework.  But I’m not about to give up.  Some stories — a lot of things — take time, more time than expected/preferred/others.  Instead of getting impatient about it, like a math teacher does if a student didn’t turn in their homework on time (no particular student in mind), I should just go with the flow.

 

Well, that’s all that’s going on in my writing life right now. 🙂