Words on the Week…

The end of the week has finally arrived, and I’m here to help in the most important of Friday tasks: doing anything but work.  So let’s run out the clock together with a smattering of interesting, book-ish links I’ve collected for your procrastinating pleasure.

It’s been a pretty kid-centered link week.  Vanity Fair has an interesting portrait of Maurice Sendak and his upcoming children’s book Bumble-Arty, the first in three decades.  Granted his self-deprecating akwardness could be par for the course (he declares this book proves he has dementia).  It’s the first portrait I’ve ever read of Maurice Sendak.

The Guardian and children’s book author Lil Chase brought us a list of her top 10 unwords from Harry Potter, The Simpsons, Shakespeare, and more.  This is a nice example of how awesome the English language is.  No word fits?  Make it up!  So fluid.  Can you add to this list?  I was always kick-ass at Balderdash.  Are you surprised?

The New York Public Library has “granted amnesty” to kids with outstanding fines in the

$80 dollars in library fines? Suck it, I gots my diploma, bitchez.

form of a summer reading program.  For every 15 minutes they read, a dollar gets knocked off.  Now if only my University could acknowledge the wisdom in this.  Time served!  In all seriousness, this is a fantastic idea and extremely beneficial.  Libraries rule.  Keep kids on books and support your libraries, dammit.

I managed to survive on taco bell sauce packets and saltines all through college by nanny-ing.  One of those charges (my secret favorite) had a reading disorder known as dysgraphia.  It’s like dyslexia but milder.  He switched a few letters consistently and reversed his 7’s and 3’s.  Nothing crippling, but it made math homework more of a challenge.   Well, some fine folks have gotten together to create a font designed specifically to help those suffering from dyslexia.

My moosey goosey poo. Iswent shwe jus da kewtest?!1 No, really. My dog is adorable.

Feel like getting something published without actually doing any sort of work?  A notice has recently gone out requesting funny pet pictures for a potential future book.  Got a silly pet?  Put your obsessive, anthropomorphizing tendencies to good use and submit your photos!

@HuffPostBooks wins the ‘most cryptic tweet ever’ award for this gem:  Untitled book by anonymous to profile ‘life with one of most controversial figures of our time’  Don’t worry, they link to a much more informative article.

Gumiho is a nine-tailed woman fox who seduces men and eats livers. I love Korea.

io9 is bored with modern fairy tale remakes and offers us a list of ten (weird) fables they’d like to see on the big screen.  I’m not overly impressed with this list but I like the concepts and it definitely had a few I needed to look up.  Any weird/sexy fairy tales you think would make an interesting transition?

Huffington Post offers us offers us the 15 most ridiculous book titles ever.  No, seriously.  They aren’t kidding.  You can’t make this shit up.

Last but not least, L. Ron Hubbard’s great grandson offers a scathing poetry slam performance about Scientology, his family, and why you should be scared of both.

Tune in early next week for our second picture story.  Missed the first?  Check it out.  Or if you’re one of the many who told me they were too freaked out by it to write a story, maybe this will break the magic:

  It’s all about perspective, dear readers.

See? Hippies and plastic. Nothing scary about it

Hello, My Name is…

Prepare to die.

Names are a funny thing.  They can say a lot about a character before you ever get to know them and can be one of the more challenging aspects of telling a story.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read a generic book or seen a generic movie and couldn’t tell you the names of the main characters to save my life. And I’m obsessed with names!  When I’m writing, even if it’s a short paragraph inspired by a fellow coffee shop patron two tables over, I have to have a name.  And more importantly, I have to have a reason for that name.  I have a hard time categorizing what it is that makes something a “good” name and that’s where you come in, reader.  Work through this with me.

One naming style I admire is J.K. Rowling’s, and in my oh-so-humble opinion, J.K. Rowling is a God.  No seriously.  Have you visited the list of Harry Potter characters on wikipedia?  There are well over 600 with first and last names, not even counting the ones with no known surnames.  Some, like the vampire Blodwyn Bludd, are a little on the nose but still.  This is a peripheral character mentioned less than handful of times.  Even if you’ve never read the books, these are the sort of names you see and get a sense of the character almost instantly.  Test:  Alecto Carrow, Eloise Midgen, and Felix Summerbee.  One of these character invented a “cheering charm,”  one of these characters is a rat bastard Death Eater, and one is a random student with acne.  None are mentioned excessively, but I’m relatively you could match up those descriptions by the sounds of the name.  I could wax poetic about Harry Potter all day.  Moving on.

While Rowling manages to make ridiculous names sound plausible, I’ve rarely seen other examples of name-describe-character that didn’t feel heavy handed.  This brings me to a second and far more ambiguous naming-style: names that just fit.  I think it’s probably more of a remark on good character building than naming.  We fall in love with their character and the name follows by default.  But what about perfect names on two-dimensional characters?  Think of that benchmark in cinematic film-making Point Break.  The main character, played deftly by Keanu Reeves, is a rough and tumble,

Johnnyutah.

Johnnyutah.

rookie FBI agent and former football star.  His name?  Johnny Utah.  HOW GREAT IS THAT!?  My friends and I tend to repeat that often, generally after something awesome happens.  You have to say it kinda like a douchebag and as one word: Johnnyutah.  When I think about it, in addition to having a superb name himself, Keanu is often given roles with awesome names.  Neo.  Johnny Mnemonic.  Don John.  Well, we can thank Shakespeare for that last one…

Smell my Scabical Punt? Isn't it sweet?

Maybe I just like names that flow, names where you want to say the first and last name.  It’s probably a combination.  I have names that translate to things in other languages, names that describe characters in a Rowling-esque fashion, I even have a character that was named after a good waiter I had the day I developed him.  Although now the name just fits.  🙂

How do you name characters?  I’m not (just) trolling for comments.  I’m quite interested.  I’m about to introduce a slew of here-to-fore unnamed characters in the second book of my series. Do you have any names you love, any Johnnyutah’s?

I leave you with this ridiculous Harry Potter name video, courtesy of Potter Puppet Pals.  I will have this song stuck in my head for the rest of my life.

Tell me a story…

I’m the kind of writer you rarely have to bug when it comes to writing.  I tend to make up stories about everything.  I imagine entire lives for strangers.  I can see it all, start to finish: birth, struggle, triumph, loss, favorite ice cream.  This being the case, I rarely do writing exercises.  I sit and stare at a wall and play the movie of a character’s life in my head and write it down when the credits roll.

But this doesn’t mean writing exercises aren’t fun!  Introducing the first reoccurring series here on Sociable Ink:  Tell me a story.  I’m going to post a photo below and I want you to tell me what’s happening.  You can write a few lines or a whole paragraph or a poem or a song or whatever tickles your fancy.  Make me laugh, make me cry, make me fear for your sanity.  Depending on how many entries I get, I’ll probably pick my favorite later in the week.  Keep checking back to see what others have written and feel free to comment on your own favorites!

I’ll add my own story once others have gotten the ball rolling.  Off you go, dear readers!  Off you go!

Think you have a picture that can inspire a story?  Send it: sociableink@gmail.com