Monday, June 25, 2012

Let's Eat -- by KittyCat

"Oral Mature Canned Cat Food - 3 oz."Fresh Step Scoopable Cat Litter - 42 lbs. - Pet MonthFresh Step Scoopable Cat Litter - 42 lbs. - Pet Month

Mom grumped this morning cuz I woke her up. She used to get up at 6:00 AM cuz she had kids. So, she should get up at six (5:30 would be better) cuz she's got a cat.

"I’ll bet you need to use the bathroom,” she said after I ate my breakfast. It was special canned food Mom had been hiding--a Christmas present from Aunt Pen and Snookie.

I did need to go outside. But the bathroom? The bathrooms are inside, and so are all my litter pans that need fresh litter, but the box is empty. Out in the flower bed, I was wondering why people say they gotta go to the bathroom. Well, not everyone says it. Kids are honest. I’ve heard them, “I gotta pee, I gotta pee, I gotta pee.”

When she hears a kid say that, Mom gets as uppity as my tabby friend, Snook the snob. “How puh-thet-ic,” she says, “that’s such poor breeding.” Which shows Mom doesn’t know as much as she thinks. When there’s no sense in doing nothing but saying hello to a gorgeous cat cuz the vet took your parts—That’s poor breeding. Come to think of it, it’s no breeding at all.

While out, I decided to chase birds before it got hot. I like pestering birds, but I didn’t chase birds to catch and eat them till I was all the time real hungry. And that was cuz Mom put Rx food in my dish. I’d rather eat dirt than the Rx food. At least dirt has a few tasty bugs in it. Rx food –it’s just yuk.

Ha, ha. Yesterday I left bird feathers on our welcome doormat, and then feathers from another bird on the sidewalk. Mom shrieked when she stepped out to the porch. “Dead birds.” She looked at Dad when she said it, like his head couldn’t figure that one. Then, just like Snook the snob, she goes on and on about how disgusting it is. Finally, she asked, “What gets into you, KittyCat?”

“A bird—same thing that’s in you when you eat fried chicken.” She didn’t understand what I said. She just thought I was purring.

After Dad put the bird remains in the dumpster (an excuse to ignore Mom’s string of words that all mean disgusting) Dad told her not to buy any more food from the vet. Maybe he’s taking my side cuz I don’t like it, but could be he didn’t like paying for the high-dollar yuk food.  

Right now, Mom’s off to the store for fresh litter, good cat food, treats, and maybe people food, too. I have the computer all to myself. When Mom gets back, she can fill my dish, and then take a nap if she wants. If I like my new food, I won’t wake her up. But I’m talking about today—5:30 PM, a whole different thing than 5:30 AM of a brand new day tomorrow.   

(c) 2012, Bernice W. Simpson

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Dressing Your Characters

Do you leave your characters undressed? When you mention their clothing, do you narrate descriptions (tell), or do you weave (show) them into your story? Do your characters' wardrobes reveal something about them, or do they usually get a shirt that matches their eye color?

Following is a selection of short fiction. As you read, watch for what you can infer about its characters and particularly look for how their clothing helps you draw those conclusions. Then think about how you can add new dimensions to your characters by simply paying more attention to their wardrobes.


If he went to the mall or home to change, Harold would be late for the meeting. He turned onto Aglett Avenue looking for the thrift store he'd noticed once. He braked at Jefferson, turned right and eased into a parking place just as a junker pulled out. Ten minutes left on the meter. Harold didn't expect to be as lucky inside, but immediately found three silk ties that looked new and could work with his suit and steel gray shirt. The gray-toned stripe with narrow bands of magenta complimented it better than the one he wore, now stained due to a waiter's mishap. Harold took all to the cashier's counter, and pulled a twenty from his billfold. If they cost more than ten apiece, he'd put one back.

The woman in front of him stood ready with a fifty. Harold's eye fell on the jacket lining and satin label as the desk clerk took the customer's money. Sawatski Tailors--they catered to millionaires. Only the dry cleaning tags hinted that the suit was previously worn. Closing the drawer after the suit sale, the clerk looked at Harold's twenty. "Do you have a five?" She pointed to the woman who bought the suit. "I just used my last ten."

"Expired" popped up in the meter window just as Harold left the store. He smiled. The money the restaurant owner gave him would have paid for the three ties and a parking ticket. Marcia's outfit suffered the most from the spill, but if the stains washed out, she'd have gained a half a week's pay in addition to four free meal coupons and the afternoon off. God knows a single working mother deserves serendipity. Marcia probably netted less than welfare recipients. Did she know about the thrift store? She would in the morning. Maybe if she shopped there sometimes, she wouldn't mind checking the men's suits. 

- - - - - - - - - -

Your list may be more extensive, but here's a baker's dozen thoughts, indirectly stated, about Harold. He:
  1. Drives a late model car, kept in good repair. (Hint--Is Thrifty written from Harold's point of view? A certain car is a "junker." ) 
  2. Was conscious of his appearance.
  3. Probably did not shop at discount stores for his clothing. (Hint--no time to go to the mall)
  4. Had never been in a thrift store until he needed a tie.
  5. Would not have even thought about going into a thrift store had he not been pressed for time.
  6. Would not have expected to see nearly new clothing in a thrift store.
  7. Was a "nice guy." (Hint--what is his attitude toward the waiter?)
  8. Probably considered this one of his "lucky days."
  9. Likes Marcia.
  10. Admired Marcia's work ethic.
  11. Is probably more conservative than liberal politically.
  12. Without sacrificing his overall appearance, hopes to spend less on his wardrobe in the future.
  13. Is proud (car, clothing) but not overly so (willing to shop thrift stores in the future.)
What indicates Marcia's outfit does not look like a discount store special?
What tells us the restaurant owner is customer conscious? 
Does anything suggest Harold, Marcia, and others, if any, with them were polite to the waiter who caused something to be spilled on them? (Hint--consider basic human nature: attitude begets attitude.) 

(c) 2012, Bernice W. Simpson

Monday, June 18, 2012

Funday Monday -- by KittyCat

I cudda done Mom’s legs like a scratching post, I was so ticked off. So, last Monday when I went out, I went over a street where I’d be a good ways from her. In a bad mood, I hissed at a pipsqueak of a Pomeranian barking at me through its chain-link fence. I postured right up to the fence. Hissing, I lifted my paw toward her nose. A cat must have scratched her once, cuz I didn’t get close, but she yelped like she’d been caught in a bear trap. I laughed and laughed.

Out for five minutes, I forgot I wanted to get back at Mom. I forgot to find mice to drop all bloody on our welcome mat. I chased the birds off that whole block, and then ran home to clear our yard of the critters.—Great fun.

Later on, I heard Mom calling, “KittyCat…KittyCat…”

Starving, I wanted to run to her and into my house to where my dish is, and beside it a cat-shaped jar of food for refills. Getting sleepy, too, I wanted to take a nap inside cuz it was hotter than a just-fried chicken out there. I wanted to go in, but …. I hate bad-before-it-gets-good choices.

This time the bad was embarrassment. A carload of church people handing out their magazines had just taken over both sides of our street. Mom says we should always be hopeful. So, I’m thinking, I’ll make a run for the porch before anybody notices me.

“Well, there’s your kitty cat,” says a lady who was all set to tell Mom what God thinks of us Methodists. “So pretty. What’s her name?”

HER!!! Her name? I'm insulted. Well, of course. Like, who would know? When you don’t have the parts, even other cats have their doubts. Next, I hear Mom’s reply--it's a double put-down in less than a minute. But “duh” on the woman’s face turns it funny.

Ha, ha. I guess the woman thought anybody so stupid they couldn’t come up with a better name for their cat is best left in their own church. She didn’t even give Mom any stuff she had to hand folks, and with another woman she headed—like walking really fast cuz they didn’t wear fancy shoes—toward the next house.

When you’re laughing at folks, you can’t be angry, and you can’t stay embarrassed. I’d been laughing too hard to eat right away, so I let Mom hug me and tell me gooey stuff about how much she loves me, and how I’m so handsome. After a bit, she put me down by my dish. Forgetting how bad the day started, I snacked, then crashed, and had happy dreams.

©2012, Bernice W. Simpson

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Your Time to Shine: Help in Gaining Audience Acceptance

“Plan your work and work your plan.” Remember that saying? Writers who want book buyers must get into the promotion mode and work their marketing plans.

In my blog Your Time to Shine: Appropriate Attire When Marketing Your Book, I explained the importance of what to wear when speaking to an audience. Follow that advice, and you will make a good impression. But if you hope to sell your products, audience approval must include interest in, and acceptance of what you say. Do you need help with delivering effective presentations? The site,, is a place to start.  

Speaking about Presenting contains a review of a book our group, FAB, is studying. A recent assignment: state three things you liked about Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate. Following is my report.  

Whether you agree with all she says, or not, you must give Nancy Duarte credit for her research. In addition to three pages devoted to chapter-by-chapter references, the book is indexed—something we expect from nonfiction books, but do not always find. She encourages you to expand your understanding by reading books she mentions, as well as making full use of online materials. One example: a case study of Benjamin Zander via Internet video.

I respect thorough preparation, and if readers get nothing else from Resonate, they will know a presenter who stands up and starts yammering is a pretender and not a presenter. Speakers agree it helps to know their audience. Ms. Duarte turns the subject of knowing from it helps to you must. As part of your preparation, you must know your audience in order to feel connected to it. And, yes, she does give suggestions on how to accomplish that task. “It’s tough to influence people you don’t know,” she says. She follows that statement with research methods, that if followed, should give you a sound idea of who your audience is, and how various segments will feel about your topic as they gather to hear you. Armed with such information, you can plan a speech tailored to “what your audience cares about and link it to your idea.”

A preparation tool on page 108 tells how to collect and catalogue a ready supply of anecdotes that add emotional appeal to your ideas. Your personal, human interest stories, which put life into your presentations, can be recycled to fit varied audiences and occasions.

As a writer, I took special note of how to construct an elevator speech. Nancy Duarte calls it “the big idea.” Among other things, she tells why you must state your main message in complete sentences. On the surface, it’s a simple “how-to” hint, but her explanation helps you see the importance of the sentence versus sentence fragments. Writers need an elevator speech for their business and each of their writing projects. For most of us, preparing that bare-bones talk is the toughest thing we’ll ever write.

Related to the “as a writer” appreciation: on page 82 is a neat list of word pairs that are opposites. Examples: chaos/structure, improvise/plan, resist/yield, and many more. In Resonate the list helps to illustrate what kinds of audience attitudes might exist before and after a presentation. And that’s good. As for me, I simply like words and word lists.

© 2012, Bernice W. Simpson

Monday, June 11, 2012

Yowl and Growl -- by KittyCat

The next time I hear Mom say "KittyCat ... " in a bossy voice, I might lose it and scratch her. Mom got paperwork caught up, so finally, after a year--well, maybe not quite a year, I'm not shut out of the office. Every time I get in the computer chair, Mom tells me to move: she has a birthday message to send, or needs to email someone. And she had to print her to-do list.'s Monday, Mom. What... you need a list to remember to vacuum and clean the kitchen? I didn't notice "wash KC's mats and special towels" on that list. I'd better not see "comb KC" added to it. I'm already POd. Right now, I'm thinking I could bite Mom and she'd have to go to the doctor for anti-catbite stuff, and I could have the computer for most of the day. I've got lots of writing to catch up on.

I got lots to write about, but I think for now I'll go outside and cool off. Well, not quite--I'll bet it's 95 degrees out there, but you get the gist. I need to chase birds, or something. I might find a mouse and drop it on the "welcome" mat by the front door and then watch Mom freak out when she sees it.

Ya, right now I need some laughs. And I'll pass them along when I get to write again.