Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Two-Natured)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Last week, a large man with notable physical characteristics walked into Tom Mahon’s detective agency, and asked if Bryan Mahon was his brother.

Tom cautiously admitted it, while sliding a hand into his open desk drawer.

Barring two sentences, here’s what happens next.


He frowned. “You’re two-natured.”

That was the west coast way of putting it; he was a long way from home. “Aren’t we all?”

“But you’re not pack.” He inhaled. “You’re prey.

I had my Glock out and aimed before he could take a step.


I realized as I was choosing this week’s (brief) passage that I’m using a lot of short sentences in this story.

As many of you know, this isn’t my usual style (“Sarah, honey, is that a sentence or a paragraph? Melville went out of style for a reason, y’know.”), but Tom’s voice isn’t my usual, either.

I kind of like it.



Random Thursday: Words, werds (,) and wurds

Random Thursday (ˈrandəm ˈTHərzdā): the day on which Sarah plunks down all the odd bits and pieces she’s been sent by friends or has otherwise stumbled upon this week in an effort to avoid writing a real post, the assembly of which usually ends up taking twice as much time as sitting down and creating actual content.

‘Cause we all wanna write right ‘n tight.



Typoison Pen


“The Tall-Tailed Hart” went through three editors before languishing in the pipeline at Playboy.



Grammar Danger

Is vocabulary comprehension and communication of meaning
more important that correct spelling?

Discuss amongst yourselves.

Because that prominent vein in my forehead just burst.

(Thanks a lot, Vonnie . . . )



I know you’ve probably seen this already.

So what?  It’s Weird Al.

(Thanks, Cristina—you were right!)


Acceptable Misokkubg

Acceptable misokkubgIf somebody misses every single comma and apostrophe
in an otherwise thought-provoking comment about spelling mishaps
in a keyboard-driven society,
we snerk.

Big time.


Walken on Commas


Walken Comma

 Commas and apostrophes: the stalagmites and stalactites of the grammar cave ecosystem.

(Thanks, Cornelia!)


Use your words hook

And your bassoon.

(Thanks, Lisa!  This is awesome!)

A Brief List of Happy Tuesday Stuff

Things that made me happy today:


Feeding my kids pizza for breakfast without guilt—
or pitching the uneaten half of their cereal, toast, eggs, or other traditional breakfast foods.


This also took care of my MIL’s complaints about the leftover pizza taking up too much space in the fridge
and the way my children don’t eat enough in the morning—
though it did not stop her from expression her silent, pointed, painful-looking opinions about pizza not being Real Food.

I can’t say that didn’t have an elevating effect on the “without guilt” part of the experience.

(and also maybe, secretly, the happy)



Singing along to the radio on my way to work, stopping at a light, and realizing that the guy in the car next to me is belting out the exact same song.

He was doing Kimbra’s part, while I was covering Gotye.

He noticed,too, gave me a thumbs up, and we both sang louder, with feeling.
(long light +  a cement truck trying to back up over railroad tracks= looong light)

But the best part?

When the light changed, he grinned at me and hollered, “Let’s take this show on the road!” and took off.

He made my entire day.



I gave a very young patron a pencil and some scrap paper this afternoon,
while her grandmother was having something notarized,
and later received a hug and a picture that Jackson Pollack would have been proud to call his own.

She said I was a “very nice Library Lady.”Librarian Stereotype




Mike Allegra’s Doodle Contest! For which I get an extra entry because I mentioned it on my blog!


It ain’t ego, if it’s true.

If I win, I want a duck in a fedora!

Because that would make me even happier.


Weekend Writing Warriors: Odd Duck (Loup Fatal)

We WriWa bannerHave a WIP, an EIP, an MS, or a published work you want to share on your blog, eight sentences at a time?

Want to sample other people’s WIPs, EIPs, MSs, or published works, eight sentences at a time?

Be a Weekend Writing Warrior!

Rules are here!

List of participants is here!


Since I posted my last bit from Anti-Cupids last week, I decided to post the first eight sentences from another project that’s just a tad different from a romantic comedy about two cynical people bonding over their sibling’s wedding, and also gnomes of a caffeinated nature.

This story is about an ex-military P.I. with a touch of PTSD, who’s operating in a world where a substantial wereanimal population has managed to keep itself  hidden from the general public.  But “hidden” doesn’t mean “safe”, and Tom learned a long time to suppress the flight instincts of his own prey animal and use the fight of his human side.

In [a yet-to-be-named city not unlike St. Louis], there’s a niche for a discrete detective agency that understands the biological drives of the two-natured, the rules of admissible evidence,  and the silverclad laws of the Council.  So Tom and his human partner are doing all right, pulling in business from the local pack and some society gigs, too.

Yeah, everything’s going pretty well.

But then the book starts.




I wonder sometimes how many private detectives go into the business hoping for a femme fatale-based clientele, a steady stream of danger in tight dresses and red lipstick, in dire need of protection, especially from themselves.

Instead, we get a flood of insurance company reps, suspicious spouses, bail bondsmen—and intermittent thugs in dire need of electrolysis and deodorant.

I blame Raymond Chandler.

“You Tom Mahon?” the thug said, resplendent in warm-up pants and a tight black wife beater.

“Guilty,” I said.

He lifted his nose to sniff the air and if his body hair and B.O. hadn’t been enough of a clue, that would have done it. “Bryan Mahon’s your brother?”

I slid my hand into the desk drawer I always kept partially open.


I started fiddling with this because I like shifter stories, but there aren’t many about what it would be like to be a prey animal in a weretiger-eat-werewolf society.*

And I like ducks.  Who, despite their lack of natural weaponry, carbohydrate-addictions, and well-deserved place in international cuisine, are also remarkably nasty, randy, opportunistic bastards.

I also like hard-boiled private detectives, who share a lot of the same qualities, though I wouldn’t put them in a cassoulet . . . unless this thing veers off into an entirely unexpected genre.


*Yes, Destroyer Duck, Howard-the-Duck, and Usagi Yojimbo are awesome, but they aren’t shifters.

Book Review: Twenty-Sided Die

Dice Shaming


Brian Prisco gives good nerd.

I figured he would, since the co-worker who  handed me the trade paperback, saying, “My friend’s book finally arrived! Oh, my god you have to read this!” is fearlessly fluent in nearly all species of fandom.

If you can’t trust a woman who carries an R2D2 lunchbox, drives a yellow car detailed with Charlie Brown stripes, is willing to talk about the relative BAMFness and Kinsey placements of Doctors War through Twelve, and has a little, knitted, science blue sweater warming the Zachary Quinto action figure she keeps in her work cubicle, you have no trust in you to give.

Plus, the cover is excellent.20-Sided Die

Twenty-Sided Die is a Kickstarter-funded collection of short stories connected by a group of  small-town misfits who have bonded—more or less—over Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, comic books, summer camp, philosophical conversations about cannibalism and literature (and boobs), bullying in its various forms, and the sheer hell of navigating high school and what may (or may not) come after.

The main characters are distinct and unforgettable—and if one of two aren’t entirely likeable (possibly by choice), they still have our sympathy.  We know these guys, and in many ways, most of us are these guys:

Dobby, the vicious, DM whose main motivations appear to be junk food and unrepentant spite;

Caleb, the fundamentalist paladin whose karma is about to hit his dogma;

Spence, a simmering wizard who is desperate to blow this popsicle stand;

Scotty, a snarky band nerd of a dwarf who would like to graduate without losing too many teeth to a privileged, troll-sized bully; and

Ben, a trailer-trash, Hinton-esque Outsider (please for to note the capital O) with the heart of a ranger.

My favorites among the supporting cast are Dory, a girl whose thermonuclear response to Dobby’s mysogenist insults in “Geek Out”  is worth twice the price of admission, and Mr. Ambler, a former dork turned cool teacher* who is one of the few adult providers of perspective and sanity in remarkably, if realistically, unfair situations.

The stories cover a lot of ground, with varying impact.  Some are clearly meant to be squinted at in WTF delight (“Human Consumption”), some are quietly powerful (“A Steady Hand” and “Grendel”), and others are a sucker punch in the solar plexus (most of the final third of the collection).  The best of them are hilarious, infuriating, heartbreaking, victorious, and tragic—sometimes all at the same time.

One in particular (“Wages of Sin”) is so breathtakingly inappropriate on so many levels and yet so masterfully written with such undeniable truth that it transcends itself and firmly establishes Dobby in my headcanon as chaotic evil personified. I am in awe .

I only had one difficulty in reading Twenty-Sided Die:  about a third of the way through,  I stopped seeing it as a series of  loosely connected stories.  Whether by design or chance or something in my own head,** the stories drew more tightly together, almost gelling into a novel—and a damned good one, too.

This wouldn’t be a problem, except the perspective shift—which again, may be all mine—lent a kind of uneven randomness to the first third, but only (I stress)  in comparison. And since this collection isn’t a novel, and presumably wasn’t meant to be, it naturally didn’t develop quite the way I kept thinking it should.

It’s completely unfair to judge short stories by long fiction standards—especially short stories that hold up on their own individual merits like these do—and the only reason that I’m saying all this is that my  unreasonable expectations are based on my sympathy for and involvement with these characters (even Dobby, which was a shocker, believe me).  I want more from and about them, and for them, too.***

So, I hope Mr. Prisco will forgive me.

And keep acing those charisma checks writing, please.


*If the general atmosphere didn’t seem more D.C. than Marvel to me, I would suspect Mr. Ambler is actually Agent Phil Coulson in disguise—I’d still like to check his desk drawers for Captain America collectibles.  And Ben strikes me as Clint Barton with better luck—the bow isn’t the only parallel I saw.  I love them both and their conversations were my favorite parts of this collection.

**Possibly helped along by the “Chapter #” heading above the title of each story.  I’m not complaining about it—I don’t know if this was done on purpose or was simply a formatting issue, and I didn’t even consciously notice until I was writing this post—but it might have had a subliminal effect.

***I want Ambler to have his day, man.  I need Ambler to have his day.