To My Followers, February, 2015

This month is a wonderful one and monumental in so many ways.  This post is a more personal one, it is to keep you from leaving the blog I so love and admire.  I keep this blog up and going for one reason – to celebrate the art of great fiction.  I originally created jcm3blog to share stories with friends/loved ones.  Now, it is what I have to present a story to the world when I simply cannot withhold it.

It may be a while; however, before I cease to quickly write down an idea and leave it; I am helping present a writing contest for Oval.  Proud to do such a thing, we have received many submissions.  Great literature is profound.  It is not always easy to find the time to praise it.  I plan to make time to do such a thing, somehow, anyway.  Thank you for following my blog; I enjoy thinking of writing as a hue of science.  English can be appreciated best by those who have tried to know its entirety.

Most of the preliminary work we have done on Oval and what I do on the web can be seen with the twitter posts below.  If it is quite some time before you see a story I do – for jcm3blog – remember, we will be here for as long as possible.  I love to write.  Creating great fiction is a passionate pursuit of mine.  When I do, I make it known here.  I am still working on a revision of my first book and the journal I kept while finishing it; those items will get more attention in July.  Thank you for your time; remember, if you leave a comment on this blog, it is appreciated, mediated.  Tell us all your thoughts on writing; happy blogging!

The Van Man

One time, there was a man who drove a van.  In this van he hauled drums.  He played many gigs.  Times good and bad, the best were hardly meek.

His name?  Mark Gibson.  A common name, people thought it was cool that his last name was on a lot of guitars.  Mark followed around with lots of different people and bands over the years.  Before he was a drummer, he worked various jobs and did not finish college.  He made up his mind.  He thought, “I am a man.  I make decisions, and I like to do things.”  So, that is what he did.  He found people who could sing and play the guitar, and he played the drums for their various bands.

Mark stayed with one band for four whole years, and decided to let them go.  His reasoning was that the others in the band were pretty tight; they knew at least four people who would greatly appreciate being able to play the drums with them.  Hence, he explained things to these guys, and left them.  Their name was “The Flaming Lizards,” and they did rock pretty hard, according to their fans.

Mark decided to travel.  Most of his gigs were in the southern part of Arizona, where bands are known prosper.  He had some funds saved, howbeit, and decided to travel to Hollywood California.  To meet people.

Everything was planned out nicely; he had his van gassed up all of the way, an extra tank, his: drums, clothes, money, personal belongings, goals.  Mark was set, and he head out.  He drove and drove down the open, peaceful highway.  The scenery was breathtaking, the air pure, the temperature even surprisingly acceptable.  He nearly fell asleep at the wheel, kept himself awake with cheep cola.

Something subtle occurred, though; his engine gurgled.  The man could claim many a night in his well-kept and fine tuned van with a v-6.  He knew that his engine, should not, gurgle.  He was in a good mood and happy.  He thought, “That was just a ‘gurgle,’ I will check the gas, maybe let Betsy here cool off for a moment before a good long haul.”

As he glanced down to the gas meter, it was on empty.  He had driven just long enough to be way out in the middle of nowhere.  “How can this be?” he wondered.  He pulled over to figure this out and turned off the ignition.  “My tank should not even have 10% of its gas gone, now,” he thought, and he gave his beloved Betsy a nonchalant, common-knowledge, physical visual inspection.

As soon as Mark got out of his van, with no traffic in sight, he smelled something he just did not want to smell at the time -gas.  He checked to see if he forgot his gas cap.  It was there.  Where was the smell coming from?  He looked underneath the van; found a disconnected fuel line; and reasoned that the line had not been loosened from foul play.  The connection seal was rusted and worn.  “Connection seal,” thought Mark, and thought, “This is not too big of a deal, I have my 5 gallon tank.  I will fill her up and carry on.”

He opened the back doors of Betsy and saw his beloved, covered drum set.  “What a vehicle he thought,” as he reached for his gas tank.  It was not there.  Mark distinctly remembered filling it up to go in and pay for the gas, did not recall putting it in the van.  “What a start,” thought Mark.  He crawled in his van, locked its doors, rolled down a window, said a small prayer, and took a nap.

Mark woke in the middle of the afternoon, his van baked over like a late afternoon brick oven in a sixty year old pizza parlor well established in some downtown Italian district of an historic metropolis, as he left his windows up.  The sounds of traffic going by were of seeming familiarity – he was sure to be out of this fix, soon.

He got up and escaped the confines of his oven-house, and leaned up against Betsy to begin to ask for help.  Sure enough, after four vehicles blew past him rapidly, a truck pulled over.  It was an older farmer and his adopted daughter was with him.  She was nineteen, shapely, precariously attractive.  “Where you headed?” asked the man, “Problems?”

“I am out of gas,” said Mark to Mr. Summersby, “My fuel line fell out.”  “We will see what we can do,” said the farmer, as his daughter was happy to see the drummer-man and said nothing.  Mr. Summersby ran the farm his father ran.  He and his wife adopted a young girl 17 years ago.  She was born in the United States.  Her parents were there illegally from Mexico, were taken back.  Her name?  Isabelle.

Mark saw Isabelle; she was pretty.  Her long flowing hair black, her smooth skin a natural pale tan, her smile, tempting and gentle… her lip was haired.  Mark did not really know what to think of this.  She was pretty and well-endowed, no doubt, but she seemed partially manly.  Not forgetting what was going on he said, “Good friend, my name is Mark, and I am headed to California as a percussionist.”  “I think I have enough gas here in my spare tank to get you to the next station.  You can call me Mr. Summersby.”

Mr. Summersby put gas in the van after Mark fixed the fuel line.  The drummer followed the farmer to the nearest gas station.  Mark offered the farmer money, and the farmer said it was not necessary, to have a safe trip.  “But Daddy,” said Isabelle, “Cannot he come and have dinner on the way?”  Mark was sure hungry, still did not know what he really thought about it.  “I suppose he can,” said the farmer, “You said your name was Mark?”  “Yes sir,” said Mark, “I must be headed out, though.”  “Oh sure,” said Mr. Summersby, “You have to be getting on.  You have your drumming waiting for you in California.  Our farm is just up the way, though.  You are more than welcome to come and eat with us, tonight, and to try and travel again in the morning.  My wife can cook.”

“You talked me into it,” said Mark.  He followed the old truck to their farm; Isabelle’s subtle grin stayed the same the whole way.  Upon arrival, Isabelle asked her non-biological father, “So, what do you think Mom is cooking tonight.”  “I think she mentioned fried chicken,” said Mr. Summersby, and they all went inside to clean up.

Mark was a tall and slender man; Mrs. Summersby was delighted to meet him.  They exchanged pleasant conversation and had dinner and conversed, and Isabelle wanted to see Mark’s drum-set before turning in. He showed it to her at dusk and she was amazed.  He explained how he only uses two small drums, a bass, and a symbol, because his rhythm and natural talent was what pleased the crowds -not big and costly extravagant drum-sets that would be harder to travel with.  He sold a larger set of drums to someone for a good price a few years back.  She was impressed, gave the man a hug, and went off to tidy up for bedtime.

Mr. Summersby showed Mark to the barn.  “We have plenty of room inside,” said Mr. Summersby, “Out here you will probably like it nicer.”  The farmer gave the drummer a bunch of blankets and a pillow.  “The dinner was great, and I thank you for the bedding,” said Mark.  He would have not minded staying in his van on the road, really, but the fried chicken dinner was great, and he did appreciate the bedding.  The farmer and the drummer conversed for quite some time about the farm, its history, and Mr. Summersby’s thoughts on its future.  Things would be modest.  Things would be fine.

As he had taken a nap earlier, Mark made his bed and stayed up gazing to the stars from a barn window.  The night was crisp; the air was clear; and the drummer dozed off.  A creek popped in the night.  Mark awoke without opening his eyes or changing his breathing.  He eased a squint from one eye in the direction of the barn door.  He saw it opening, entirely on its own.

A figure walked through it quietly and closed the door quickly and with no noise.  He could see her.  It was only Isabelle.  She walked carefully toward the drummer and into the light of his small window.  “I wanted to come see you,” she said.  “Your dad is going to come out here, and he will kill us,” said Mark, thinking.  “No he will not,” said Isabelle, “He and Ma are off sleeping soundly.  They will not wake up. I just wanted to talk.”  “Sure you do,” said Mark, as Isabelle lit a small candle and put it besides them.  He sat up, and she sat down by him.  He noticed that she had not removed the hair from her lip, that her nightgown was stunning with its soft laces, albeit, a probable form of costly Asian silk, its small decorative lace-flowers resembling cherry tree blossoms.

The two talked and talked about her school and plans and life and his career and all for some time.  She leaned in to try to kiss him.  He backed away, thinking she might be like a man.  Of course, he knew better.  It would not be proper ethically to let one thing lead to another, not with this young girl on someone else’s farm.  “I am sorry,” said Mark, “You are very pretty, I just do not think it would be okay for us to do anything physically.”

She put her hand on his work-hardened shoulder and said, “Listen.  I plan to live alone for most of my life.  My career is not going to involve mindless boyfriends – I am going after my own bacon.  We only live once, and I want to feel your body in mine.”

The drummer just did not know what to think about all of this.  This pretty girl and her hairy mustache – it was awkward.  She wanted it; he knew he did, too; and, as Mark looked into her eyes, he, again, saw the frail hairs of her upper lip.  That was his dilemma.  “If I wanted to get with something manly, I could just wait until California,” thought Mark, thinking, “I prefer women, do not understand being with something besides them.”

Nevertheless, the two gave into temptation.  It was her first time.  They embraced each other and made passionate love together, she was strong and got what she wanted.  The two slept like a rock.  They woke up before dawn; she wrote down her address so he could contact her.  Mark promised he would, said to keep in touch, his new band would be traveling.  He planned to send her a post card from California, gave her a twenty for some extra lunch money or whatever.  She was happy.  Isabelle kissed him on the cheek and snuck back inside to crawl into bed before her parents awoke.  They were fast asleep.  The sun’s morning glow was coming before it over the horizon.

Mark was ready to head out.  He put all of the bedding on the back porch and checked out his van.  It was fine; his fuel line was secure and fine.  As he was going, he hollered to Mr. Summersby’s window.  “I guess I am heading out,” said Mark.  “Be safe and do not be a stranger now,” said both the farmer and his wife.  “Okay,” said the drummer, “We thank you now.”  That was all they said, and he made it to the van and drove away.

Mark drove all the way to California; sent Isabelle a postcard with a horse on it; met some guitarists and played often gigs with large crowds; and they all rocked on.

Sentence Constructs. The Emphatic, the Magnificent.

Sentence Constructs.  The Emphatic, the Magnificent.

This is a post I have wanted to write out for some days, now.  It is mostly a tribute to Thomas S. Kane, who is no longer alive.  From what I understand, he wrote more than just one or two books, was a professor of English for over two decades.  He is a very inspirational author – in my mind – because he shows us many things that we can do with our written grammar that are simple, fun, summarized, accurate.  Not claiming to be all-knowing, I have been very impressed with his choice of quotes and explanations of certain concepts in writing – especially with such ideas as sentence construction.  When do we use an emphatic sentence?  When it is appropriate to draw attention with one, among other normal constructs?

The book I have been reading that I get a percentage of my writing inspiration from can be found here.  It is encouraging and makes prose manufacture seem easier and more possible.  Better.  Anyone who reads/considers this text will at least find added confidence in their pursuit of writing; the book is hard to put down, much more fun and thought provocative than 98% of the grammar books I have encountered.  It is my favorite, so far.

In this hopefully not-too-long post, I intend to present a few emphatic sentences.  What they say may not be too important, but the kind of sentence made and how its meter or punctuation is chosen will may be.  Some of the most impressive sentence constructions I have seen while reading Kane’s book so far are explained below.  In order to refrain from this idea taking too long, I decided to include about five favorite forms of sentence construction.

The triadic sentence.

A triadic sentence is a kind of a freight-train style sentence; it is a popular choice among authors due to the idea that it is limited and confined.  A common freight-train sentence can include any number of clauses/phrases; a triadic sentence’s secondary part is a 3-phrase combination.  In my first example of  a sentence construction for this post, I will describe hot-air balloons with a triadic sentence.

The balloons floated freely through the air, their passengers at awe with the farmland below; their rate of travel masked by their effortless existence in the lower atmosphere; their distinctions made by their varied brilliant hues of primary and secondary colors.

The convoluted sentence.

I am impressed with the construction of certain forms of sentences.  This particular form of construction is nearly the most difficult and impressive that I have seen.  I am sure constructs of this nature occur naturally – when manufactured on purpose, however, they endure the notion of additional skill or effort or even the chance of luck.  It is a periodic structure that includes subordinate elements which split the main clause of the sentence.  My example is below.

She drew attention, be her frail white sun suit in semblance to her skin, to those who witnessed the stretch of her purr.

Such sentences can be tasking on their readers and should be used sparingly, reminds Kane, as these next sentences are also rather emphatic.  They draw emphasis, lose their mite when overused.

The Fragment.

What fragment?  This one.  And another?  Oh, sure.  Not quite the last.

Polysyndeton and asyndeton sentence constructs.

These formidable words were inspiring to me.  They were ideas that I had not heard or or read about; I decided to include them in a post, here.  These are easier to make than a purposely constructed convoluted sentence, are thought to be dangerous to use in the academic world and should be approved of prior to delivery if at all possible.  Else, take no chance with them.  Make the better grade, in other words.

To put it simply, a polysyndeton sentence presents to its audience a list, just as the asyndeton.  Polysyndeton sentences do not use commas to separate the objects/phrases in the list, asyndeton sentences do.  An asyndeton sentence needs no conjunctions – it does not use the words and, or, nor or yet.  A conventional sentence uses commas and a conjunction, with or without a comma before it.  I will write a sentence three ways, as was done in Kane’s book, with my own sentence.

Conventional.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses and fairies.

Polysyndeton.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included wizards and magic and lands and elves and horses and fairies.

Asyndeton.

The amazing and well-read author’s fantasy works commonly included:  wizards, magic, lands, elves, horses, fairies.

As stated in the text I got these ideas from, conventional sentences that present a list can draw attention to the last element written.  Both polysyndeton and asyndeton sentences draw attention to the objects in the list equally.  The items as a group usually have more attention with the polysyndeton style, and a group of things described with the asyndeton style exist with less emphasis.  I liked those structures, personally.

Mimetic Rhythm.

Quite possibly the most impressive examples I have read in prose were mimetic rhythm constructs.  They present to their readers poetic meter, proper construction, and secondary meaning.  They are only done well by the masters.  Mimetic means imitative; a mimetic sentence imitates the perception a sentence displays or its presentation of feeling.  Its meter alludes to its emotional display, in other words, as best explained in Kane’s text.  Here are a few examples.

x       /      x       x        x        /        x        x     /          x    x     /       x       x         x   /  x  x        /          x    x    /      x      x

Her long pale drab hung loose from the height of her shoulders down in artichoke green, to the dull, flat floor.

The sentence above tries to use non-exciting adjectives to paint a monotonous picture of a dismal and non-important lady.  While imperfect, the x‘s above attempt to mark the unstressed syllables and the /‘s attempt marking the stressed syllables.  As it may be of no surprise, the example above was inspired by but not about the historical monarch figure, Plain Jane.  The next sentence should be more exciting.

/        x    x       /     x   x    /     x     x   /     x     x     /    x     x    /     x      x    /      x   /      x     /    x     /       /      x    x    x   /  x  x

Shimmering sparkling shining in glisten, her necklace’s crystals by one by one, the elf princess sported no additional

x

need.

While the above example was a rough and improvisational attempt, it was still somewhat exciting to construct.  The very essence of rhythm is presented in meter similar to actual poetry.  The line continues with its sharply repetitive sounds and concludes with less enthusiasm.  In prose, rhyming, alliteration, and even musical meter must only be used when able to be done without drawing too much attention to a sentence.  As an author, one wants to make a single sentence important from time to time, to draw emphasis.  When the situation arises, we can resort to one of the many forms of emphatic construction.

Conclusion.

So there we have it – some example attempts of impressive prose construction.  While I may be able to win no poetry contest without question, I cautiously remind others not to sell themselves short.  We are all inspired by various concepts from time to time.  I am a thankful man learning.  So hats off to you, avid audience; I await your valued commentary.

🙂

Back to the Park, Day 11

Back to the Park

One time, a young boy named Ned enjoyed going to the park to see his grandfather, Mr. Wise.  Ned was happy; he had not played a chess game with Mr. Wise in quite some time… 6 days.  During the last game, Mr. Wise and Ned displayed complicated exchanges on the chess board.  Mr. Wise won.

The two set up the pieces and Ned moved first.  “Grandpa,” asked Ned, “What was your house like when you were 12?”  “Things were much different back then,” said Mr. Wise, “I shared a room with my sister for a while, then we moved into a three-bedroom house before I went to work for the electric company.”

“What did you do for the electric company?” asked Ned; the two began to exchange chess pieces during the early parts of the game.  “I helped them run electricity lines all over the state,” said Mr. Wise.  “Wow,” said Ned.  Ned was commonly impressed with his grandfather.  “Were they the lines like we see high up in the air on the sides of the road today?” asked Ned.  “Yes,” said his grandfather trying to decide where to move.  He had a bishop under attack by a rook.

“These days things are different from how they used to be, in regards to electrical wires,” said Mr. Wise.  “How so?” asked Ned.  “Well,” said Mr. Wise, “A long time ago the wires were just thick enough to work; were not made with newer alloys; and they most certainly could not withstand the storms that the newer lines can.”  “Are the kinds you used still used?” asked Ned.  “That is good question,” said Mr. Wise.  Both chess players were trying to plot and arrange their pieces defensively to organize a checkmate.

“To answer you adequately,” said Mr. Wise, he was impressed with the current display of the chess board and his grandson’s use of it, “The older lines we ran are still up and working fine in places without devastating or even mildly dangerous weather.  When bad weather came over the years, electric companies installed the newer, more durable lines.  “Wow,” said Ned, thinking about his pieces and how they were arranged on the chess board.  The two continued to exchange pieces without wasting too much time in contemplation.

“You said you moved from one house to another one?” asked Ned.  “It was not too big of a deal,” said Mr. Wise, “Our first house was very small.  It had a bathroom, a kitchen, and two bedrooms.  As my little sister grew older, my mom and dad thought she needed her own room.  My father was a plumber.  He did a good enough job for a whole year, one time, and we got a good deal on a small 3-bedroom house that actually had an air conditioner.”  “The other house did not have one?” asked Ned. “No,” said Mr. Wise.  “What did your mom do for work?” asked Ned.  “Most women those days stayed at home.  She was a nurse’s assistant, however.  ‘Dirty jobs pay,’ she used to say,” said Mr. Wise.  Ned somehow felt his grandfather.  Mr. Wise was a hardworking man for most of his life, even after retiring.  He edited/published a hunting periodical.

Ned won the chess game; his mother would be there soon.  “Nice game,” said Ned.  “Sure, sure,” said Mr. Wise, “I almost had you toward the end.”  “I thought I saw what you were up to,” said Ned, “I moved my queen and the knight without too much thought of what you were going to do with your pieces.”

“So, what do you want to do when you grow up?” asked Ned’s grandfather.  “I want to be a writer,” said Ned, “I have already started my first book about a man sent to slay a large golden-scaled, man-eating dragon.  I am pretty sure that I will have to work for the grocery store or a restaurant to go to college, though.”  Ned’s mother was pulling up, and his grandfather was putting away the chess pieces.  “It is like that old saying…” said Mr. Wise, “‘Do not quite your day job!'”  Ned smiled and gave his grandfather a usual hug.  His grandfather waved goodbye .  Ned and his mother drove away.