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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

MIA - or that terrible little thing called life.

Yes, yes, I know it's been nearly three weeks since I've posted. And no, I haven't gotten cold feet. I've just been busy with other things: contemplating the future, taking care of kids, visiting parents and once in a while trying to get some writing done.

Some updates and you have my apologies that these are not all writing related:

1. The job interview: Last time I posted I mentioned a job interview I had with a professor here at the U of M , and I thank everyone who had wished me luck. It worked! Well, sort of. I met with the guy and his research is sooo interesting. To simplify it for you guys: he mutates proteins, expresses them in heart cells and then determines whether they make the heart function better after a heart attack. Very cool. His lab is one of the top 4 molecular cardiology labs in the country.  He seemed very positive about my qualifications and encouraged me to meet with his lab manager to see if I would fit into the lab. This, unfortunately is where things got a little iffy. See, this position would only be a temporary job for me, 2-3 years tops, and while the research is amazing and the people sounded cool, his lab manager reminded me that this position wouldn't give me the skills I want to land my next job in the biotech industry. So, after much hemming and hawing, I decided to tell him no thanks, that I'd have to look for something else that would fit closer to what I know about the biotech companies around here.

2. This leads me to update number 2. As I was doing the interview, I was reminded of how much I hate the idea of having to go back to work in the evening and weekends to finish things up, how little time I would get writing, and how I really feel sort of burned out on research. After thinking about it for awhile, I've decided to look into teaching instead. Teaching high school biology to be precise. Now if I had an English degree, this would be a no-brainer because it would fit perfectly with my desire to write. But I don't. I have a degree in genetics and cell biology, and I've been specialized in that area for so long that I worry somewhat that I'll have forgotten all the simple stuff. But, I'm still going to pursue it so far as to get some volunteer experience in the local high schools around here. I'm also a bit more motivated after the interview to do some job searching, so I've been doing that as well. Writing a new cover letter for each position takes up a lot more time than I thought.

3. Which leads me to update number 3. The book. Nikki's Wish is kind of stuck at the moment. I have a list of things that I need to do for revisions, but they're getting done at a snail's pace. I've been writing maybe half an hour to an hour at most each night, down from my typical 2-3 hours. And some of it has just been me staring at the screen or playing around with getting the wording right on that query letter. Do I have writer's block? Sort of. Thing is the story feels done in my head, but when I try to fix what's on paper to match, that's when things get ugly. I forget how I had planned the scene out and I can't find the right words to put into my character's mouths. It's just not flowing. At the same time, I have book 2 and 3 mapped out as well and it's so much more fun to think about those than the first. And if I were to write those out, I'd be back up to speed. BUT, I can't do that. I have to focus on getting the first one polished and out there. So, I'm stuck. It also doesn't help much to think that in the near future I won't have as much time to write what with trying to find a new job and possibly going back to school for a M. Ed. In all, it's leaving me pretty depressed.

And that brings me to my state of relief. Reading. I've read a number of good books lately: Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson (did I tell you she's my literary hero now?), and I finished the third book in The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare. I recently started on Paranormalcy and loving it's humor. Let me share with you one little tidbit in there. There's a scene where Evie is talking about her friend a mermaid and how this girl thinks the mermaids wearing seashells for bras in The Little Mermaid is so funny. Why? Because fish don't have boobs - they're not mammals! Totally cracked me up, and it's so true.

Anywho, that's the whereabouts of adktd2bks lately. I was surprised to see that in my absence I actually got a new follower! I'm giving a shout out to Susanne Winnacker (blog here). She's got a YA dystopian that will be out in 2012. It sounds awesome, so go have a look-see.

Thanks all for listening to me ramble. I'd love to hear what you've been doing lately as well, so drop a comment in the little boxy thing. :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Evaluating the purpose of a scene and how it leads to pacing

So I admit, this is one topic that I struggle with. I'm a screen shot kind of writer - I see scenes play out in my head just as if it were a movie going on up there. I've spent hours with my eyes closed, just thinking of the day to day stuff my characters encounter. I see their facial expressions, I hear the tone of their voices, and I feel like I'm right there with them. Don't my readers want to see this stuff too, I ask? Unfortunately the answer isn't always yes.

So how to decide which scenes to cut and which to keep? The short answer I always hear is that if a scene doesn't move your story along then it can be cut. Now this doesn't necessarily mean that it has to be cut, just that it can be. And making such a decision is not always easy. One thing that was helpful to me in my first round of revisions was to make an Excel spreadsheet. In it, I made columns for each scene and briefly described what that scene was about. While I had columns for other things, like notes on how to improve the scene or what emotion I wanted to get across, I also had a very important column labeled "purpose". There can be many purposes to a scene, but each should have the end effect of moving the story forward. If it doesn't or if you come up blank with finding a good purpose for having the scene then you might want to consider cutting it.

 Some examples of purpose I had in my spreadsheet:

1. Instigating event - the instigating event is what launches the story. For NW this happens in the first scene when Sam jumps off the tower. Identifying your instigating event is important for deciding where to start your story. If it occurs much later than chapter 3 or so, then there's a chance that you're not starting in the right place. It can also be a sign that you're giving too much backstory too early.

2. Introduction of antagonist- this is very crucial for my story, but what if you don't have a villain? Well, sometimes the antagonist is the main character herself - an inner antagonist if you will. Scenes which show a person's inner struggle are very good for moving the story forward. But be careful you don't over do it by showing a number of instances that show the same thing just for the sake of driving in your point. For instance, you might want your reader to know that your main character struggles with insecurity - this could be her inner antagonist. But you don't want to show her getting cold feet in front of a crowd and then not talking to a boy and then having a hard time telling her friend that she's a bitch. Unless each of these events is critical to how the story unfolds, then it may not be necessary to show each one. Pick one that is the strongest and make that scene memorable.

3. introduction of the MC's conflict with another central character. This happened several times in NW - first when I introduce her parents and then again when I introduce Seth, her ex-boyfriend. In each instance I was basically laying the groundwork for subplots, so they were important for me, but what if you're not introducing subplots? Do you have to show your main character talking to her parents if they're not important in the story? Do you have to show interactions with all your MC's exes if they're never mentioned again? Here again, we're defining a purpose and while your purpose might be to introduce a character, it might be that the character isn't all that necessary to the plot in which case cutting a scene may be analogous to cutting a character.

4. Showing how the main character has changed - in other words, how the character has developed. Going back to our example of insecurity being an inner-antagonist, you might have a scene where the MC suddenly gathers the courage to talk to that boy. This would obviously be an important scene for your story. This sort of purpose usually happens toward the ending. If it's happening too soon then it's possible you're not pacing your character's inner changes very well. You don't want to resolve a major conflict way before you get to the ending.

5. mid-point reversal - I'd never heard this term before reading Janice Hardy's blog and here's a great refresher on what exactly it means. In Janice's words, it's like a mini-climax in the story that illustrates what the main character is willing to do to win or to show what's most important to them at a basic level. It's usually something unexpected that surprises the reader or even raises the stakes or tension higher.  I know exactly where my mid-point reversal is in NW even though I didn't think of it that way when I wrote it. It was basically me throwing a wrench into Nikki's plans and she spends most of the rest of the story finding a way around it. I was also surprised to find out that my other WIP, Bettina, also has a mid-point reversal and again I didn't think of it that way at all when I wrote it. See if you can pick out a midpoint reversal in your own story. If you can't find one, then consider whether the middle of your story is dragging and if you need something like this to move your story along.

7. to show the MC doing something to solve her problem. In NW, Nikki has a major problem she has to solve and she has to do some sleuthing. I have a couple of these scenes. Is each one critical? No, and I've tweaked some back and forth shortening here and lengthening there where appropriate.  This is one area where my spreadsheet has been particularly helpful.

8. Backstory - the dreaded purpose. We all need to incorporate backstory at some point, but devoting entire chapters to it can be deadly, especially if this happens early in the story. I try very hard to sprinkle it in here and there. The first 50 pages of NW has very little of Nikki's backstory. The only thing we learn about her is that her sister has died. This is a very critical event in her life and the central theme of the story, but that IS ALL that is mentioned about it. The place where I do have an entire chapter devoted to backstory is when Sam tells Nikki about his life before he met her. It happens about a third of the way through and was very hard to get around. One of my recent revisions was to take Sam's story and make it more active - I can do this quite easily because Sam is a genie (holograms are easy to conjure). But if you have a chapter devoted entirely to backstory think of how you can change it to make it more engaging. Can you add more voice? Can you entwine it with another event in the story so that you're not bombarding the reader all at once? Consider also if it's necessary that the reader know this RIGHT NOW. It's often the case that backstory isn't needed at the time it's presented and can be saved for later or broken up into pieces.

After writing this post, I realized that a lot of what I wrote here also relates to pacing. I'm not a strict outliner nor am I a pantser. I do a combination of both. If you're a panstser or like me, once you have that first draft written it might help to make a spreadsheet like this or an outline. It can help you define what needs to go, what needs to be added and what needs to be shuffled around. What's more is that you can look at each element critically and decide if every purpose has equal weight. Were you making up purposes for a scene just because you want to have an excuse for it to be there? Were there multiple times when you had the same purpose, and can you justify having multiple chapters devoted to the same purpose? And remember, even if you can't justify having a scene that doesn't necessarily mean that you have to remove it. I've had a few scenes that really didn't need to be there, but they were just plain fun. When I suggested taking these scenes out to my betas, they screamed no! So, if you're in doubt always go with your gut instinct - or you know, get that second opinion. Beta readers are worth their weight in gold.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Guest post - Janice Hardy author of Blue Fire - The Healing Wars Book II

Today we have guest blogger, Janice Hardy, with us to talk about her process of revising and editing. I first came across Janice on the AW forums and subsequently visited her blog. Her first book in the Healing Wars trilogy, The Shifter, is a great MG read and now her second book Blue Fire is out as well. I can't wait to get my hands on it! I've learned so much from Janice, and I encourage everyone to check out her blog and the tour she's doing over the next month - there are links on her blog. So without further ado, take it away Janice!!

Edits vs. Revisions: One on One Death Match
You often hear edit and revise used interchangeably, but they really are two different things. Editing is the nitpicky, line by line tweaks that polish your text. Revision is more macro level, changing parts of the story. But how do you know when to use one over the other? I revise first, because that covers the big issues. The things that may take a lot of work. Once the story is unfolding how I want, then I edit, polishing it until it shines.

Macro Issues
I like to work from the top down, tackling the largest “problem” first, since odds are that will change other things. There’s no need to polish the text of a paragraph if you might cut that entire scene.

Story & Structure
This is the biggest part of any novel. If these aren’t working, none of the edits you make will do any good. Take a step back and look at your overall story. Is it working? Things may need to be changed, so don’t worry about the smaller “this part is too slow” problems. Does the basic story work and unfold in a way that makes sense? Is the structure working? Do you need more set up and less middle? A longer ending and shorter beginning? Are there too many chapters? Too few? Do you need to break in into parts?

Plot & Stakes
Now look at the plot. Does each plot event advance that story in a logical way? Are there too many subplots? Too few? Check your stakes. Are things going from bad to worse over the course of the novel? Are the stakes worth risking something for?

Characters & POV
Do you have the right characters? Is the protag the best person to tell this tale? Is the antag the right bad guy? Are the secondary characters pulling their weight or are they just hanging around? Are there too many characters? Not enough? Is it told through the right point of view? Are there too many or too few of them?

Medium Issues
Once you’ve revised the major pieces, you can get closer and start tweaking the gears of the story. The guts that make it work.

How does your story unfold? Look for those slow spots, the too-fast spots, the jerky spots where the flow feels off. Is there a rise and fall? Does the story feel like it’s moving forward or running around in circles? Are revelations and set pieces happening in the right spots or are they all clumped together?

Scenes & Goals
Check each scene for the POV’s goal, how they plan to get that goal, and what’s at risk if they fail. Do they have a solid goal? (remember, goals can crossover scenes, so they can have the same goal if it takes them a while to resolve it) Is the risk big enough to make the reader worry if they fail? Is the obstacle in their way tough enough so it doesn’t feel like “stuff” just to fill up the story? Does each scene lead logically to the next? Does every scene need to be there? Do you need to add any scenes?

Look at your chapter and scene transitions. The right pieces can be in the right places, but how you move from one to the other determines how much the reader wants to follow you. Do you end a scene or chapter with a carrot to lure the reader to the next scene? Do you start the next scene with a new problem without resolving (even if that means “we need to worry about this later”) the last problem? Exciting enders that don’t lead anywhere get old fast, and stop being exciting once the reader figures out you’re just tricking them.

Character Growth & Story Arcs
I put these together because they often go hand in hand. Look at the story arcs for each character. Does their tale unfold in a way that allows them to grow as a character (even small growth)? Are they learning the things they need to learn for the story? Is there a good mix of character arc revelations and story arc revelations?

Micro Issues
By now, the big stuff is done, the story is in good shape structurally, and you’re ready to start the detail work. It’s time to actually edit vs revise.

This is one of the first places I look when I start polishing, because a lot of the other editing issues can be found here. People talking usually pinpoints the story’s “action” (as in, things happening) so they’re also good spots to weave in all the stuff that can slow a story down (but in a way that doesn’t slow it down). Bits of description, backstory, stage direction. These things slip in easier when combined with stuff going on. Is there are unnecessary dialog? Do I have too many tags? Not enough? Can those tags be changed to show action, internalization, setting, etc?

Is there too much? Too little? Is it in the right place? Look for large blocks of paragraphs on the page. Often those blocks are red flags that there’s too much of something going on.

Word Usage
Set off on that adverb hunt, check your prepositions and your classic telling flags, like to, with, saw, looked, etc. Also check for commonly misused words. It is that or who? Effect or affect? Are you using the best word for what you’re trying to say? Often isn’t the same as usually, red isn’t the same as scarlet. What about favorite words? I always have to do a search for just, only, and still. 

Rhythm & Flow
How your sentences run together goes a long way to pulling your reader through a story. Are your sentences varied and working with your pacing? Are there too many short choppy sentences in a row? Too many long ones? Does it read awkwardly anywhere? Do you stumble over words or passages? Reading your work out loud can really show you where the stumbling blocks are.

How you choose to work on your novel is up to you, but I’ve found putting myself in the right mindset helps keep me focused on what I’m trying to do. If I’m “revising,” I’m more open to hacking out parts or moving things around, because the text isn’t finished yet. But when I’m “editing,” I’m looking at the individual sentences and not the bigger picture as much. I’m trying to make what’s there the best it can be, not deciding if it should be there at all.

A subtle shift in thought, but sometimes that’s all you need to get the job done.

Blue Fire Blurb
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

Janice Hardy Bio
A long-time fantasy reader, Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins.  She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.

Link to Blue Fire Online Retailers


The Other Side of the Story Blog

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Contest winner!!

Just a few words - I had a lot of fun reading posts about banned books last week and I really liked some of the reviews I read. As you know I had a little contest of my own going on - not too many entries which is good for the winner of course, but not so good for generating interest in the blog. After having two contests I think I've learned something about designing them - simpler is better!! Haha. Like it really took a genius to figure that one out! *boo Angie, boo* :) Anywho the winner was picked by random generator and the prize goes to.... *drumroll please*


Marieke,  please send me your email address so I can get a hold of you.

Now scroll down to learn about cutting a character. :)

When to delete a character

As promised, today I'm going to talk about the gut wrenching decision to delete a character. This can often feel much more traumatic than cutting a favorite scene. It usually involves cutting more than one scene, and  rearranging smaller or perhaps even bigger parts of other scenes. Also we grow fond of our characters, they become like real people and cutting them can often feel like issuing a death sentence. In short, it's not a decision to be taken lightly. Except when it is.

What do I mean by this? Well consider, if cutting a character has very little impact on the overall story, then it should be a pretty easy decision to make. Having fewer characters means giving your reader fewer things to remember, fewer people to follow, and fewer subplots to keep straight in their head. Have you ever read one of those books that has upwards of 10-15 characters and at some point you have to stop and ask yourself, okay, who was this guy? What did he do? Why was he important? If he really is important then these are valid questions, but if he's not, then you're just playing with your reader and losing their trust that you're going to tell them a great story.

So here are some questions to ask yourself when contemplating the decision to cut a character:
  • First and most importantly, does the story change at all if this character weren't present?
  • Could another character in the story take that character's scenes without it affecting the story?
  • What is the purpose of having this character in the story? Is he/she vital to the plot? To development of the MC?
  • Can cutting this character give you room to develop another character in more depth? 
  • Is the character memorable? If not, that's a sure sign that the character is unneeded or his/her character is so undeveloped that your reader won't notice if they're gone.
  • If word count is an issue, cutting a character or combining two characters into one is a good way to cut some words.

I'll give you two examples of times when I've discovered that a character was easy to delete.

Example 1 - in this instance I was able to take two minor characters and combine them into one memorable character. Character 1 (Greg) was in a scene where my main character, Nikki, arrives at school in a fancy sports car. In the scene, Greg and his buddies make some crude inferences as to how she got to drive the car in the first place. Much later in the story - late enough that the reader probably won't remember him, Greg is the butt of a joke. These are fun scenes, but fairly extinguishable as is. They are not critical to the story. Character 2 shows up a few chapters later when Nikki tells a story about what happened between a guy named Brent and her sister. This story is crucial to the reader understanding why Nikki feels so guilty about her sister's death, but Brent is there by word of mouth only as he is never actually seen in the story. After a few re-reads, it became clear to me that there was no reason why Greg and Brent couldn't be the same person. Furthermore, by making them the same person, he became more memorable and gave me a clear reason as to why he'd be the target of a prank (Nikki gets revenge for her sister and a bit of closure). Finally, I was able to incorporate Nikki's story about Greg/Brent into something she does to trick the villain of the story, Maxine. In the end, everything became more streamlined.

Example 2 - This example comes more recently and I'm still in the process of re-working these scenes. The character in question, Curtis, was in my first draft and for some reason kept sticking around as the short, sweet guy who has a crush on Nikki and inadvertently ends up as her first date for the prom. Nikki shuns Curtis for most of the story and later ends up ditching him to go with her ex - which in retrospect didn't shine a very good light on her. Other than being an impetus to make her ex jealous, Curtis had no role in the story. I liked him. He was sweet and kind of funny, but he was not important to the central plot and did little for developing Nikki's character. When I proposed cutting him to my writing bud, Mel, she said that she actually had to stop and think about who he was (Mel has read a couple drafts of the story so for her not to remember Curtis is really saying something). My only problem - that little jealousy thing I mentioned. I wanted that in there. Also there comes a scene later where I wanted Nikki to have an excuse to be trying on prom dresses. In retrospect these were rather silly reasons for keeping Curtis around and were easily solved. Instead of Curtis asking Nikki out, she decides to go stag with her best friend, Kay. I've been wanting to develop Kay's character more anyway and cutting the scenes with Curtis (there are about 3) gives me room to do so.

After writing this last night, I actually thought of two other characters that I can combine into one. Like they say, practice what you preach!! I hope this post has given you some food for thought.  Tomorrow Janice Hardy will have the stage. You won't want to miss it!!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Revisions week!!

Trying to get a little organized here and really push myself into getting these revisions done. I wanted to start querying November 1st, but alas, I don't know if I'm going to get there. Life just... happens. I didn't think school starting up again was going to take so much of MY time, but it has. I look back on my own childhood and try to recall my parents doing homework with me, and frankly, I don't think it happened all that often. It's probably a sign of the times, school getting harder, parents helping their kids more, but dang it, it's exhausting! And then, something comes up like it did on Friday - yes, I got a job interview! I've spent all weekend reading this researcher's papers and preparing myself for what sort of questions he'll ask me. It's nerve wracking, and to be honest, I'm a little reluctant to even change jobs right now because I know it'll affect how much time I get to write. I know that it'll be the best thing for me in the long run, I just kind of wish it wasn't happening RIGHT NOW.

At any rate, I've decided to devote this week to revisions and I even got organized enough to make a schedule! Now that's impressive. *pats self on the back*

Monday - sorry, nothing about revisions today because I'll be biting my nails over the interview.
Tuesday - when to cut a character
Wednesday - guest blog from author Janice Hardy - she'll be talking about her revisions process and trust me, you'll want to check it out.
Thursday - evaluating a scene to determine if it's really needed
Friday - Beginnings and backstory - maybe.

After reading Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, I'm fighting the urge to do a long post (rant) about why you shouldn't try so hard to explain things in a dystopian world. But if you're interested to hear such a thing from a scientist's POV, let me know - it could be entertaining. :)

Also a quick reminder - this is the last day to enter my Banned book contest. Just comment on a banned book you read or a leave a link to a blog post or review that you did last week!!

ETA: My interview got rescheduled for Wednesday - Waaah.... two more days of nail biting. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

A Banned Book week parody - of sorts

While perusing the Banned Book week flyer, I noticed an oddity that literally cracked me up, and no, it wasn't the presence of Twilight on the list. It was this:

Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Merriam-Webster Collegiate
Pulled from the Menifee, Calif. Union School District
(2010) because a parent complained when a child
came across the term “oral sex.” Officials said
the district is forming a committee to consider
a permanent classroom ban of the dictionary.
Source: Mar. 2010, p. 55.

I started to imagine how this all went down. So for your entertainment, here's my peek into a book banner's mind.

Miss Mary Sunshine dumped the freeze-dried potatoes into a bowl and added the requisite water, milk and butter. All with a smile on her face. Ah Betty, she thought, looking at the woman on the au gratin potato box, this is the life. With three angelic children who did their homework without a fuss, who wouldn't be happy? And look, little Jamie is even reading the dictionary. The dictionary! With thoughts of Ivy League schools and six-figure salaries dancing in her head, she began to stir.

Jamie grabbed the big red book and hauled it over to the counter.

"What do you have there, James?" Mary asked.

"Look at this word I found."

"Is it sanguine?"

Jamie looked at his mother with something approaching annoyance.

"No, it's something much better than that." He turned the book around so his mother could see. Just under his finger was the word, oral sex.

Mary put a hand to her throat. Her spoon clanked against the bowl, sinking into the milk and powder soup mix. Her pulse clocked a new record as she pulled her heavy sweater away from her neck.

"It says that it means --"

"I know what it means," Mary snapped. She slammed the book shut.

"Do people really do that? I mean, that's kind of... gross."

Something in his innocent nine-year old face jolted her sensibilities.

"Yes, it is gross. Of course it's gross because its a... a joke."

"A joke?"

"Yes, it's a joke. A very bad joke," she said with a nervous laugh. She gazed at the title of the book. Merriam Webster collegiate dictionary? What was his teacher thinking, giving a child a collegiate dictionary?

"Why would someone put a joke in the dictionary?"

"I don't know, maybe because they want to keep you on your toes." His mother backed up, taking the offensive dictionary with her. "Stay there and I... I'll get you a different dictionary to work from."

Taking the stairs two at a time, Mary ran to the playroom. Within thirty seconds she was back.
"Here you go," she said, handing Jamie a thin book. 

"But this is a picture dictionary."

"Yes, well, I'm sure that it has all the words you need in it."

"It's a DISNEY picture dictionary."

"What? You don't think Mickey Mouse has a good vocabulary?" She opened the colorful spine and pointed. "See right there. Proud." She ruffled Jamie's hair. "Now that's a word you should know because I'm so proud of you! Now, go finish your homework."

Jamie took the book and shuffled back to his seat, vowing in his mind to check out the dictionary at the public library. If that one word had the power to turn his mother into a nutcase, just imagine what else he could find.

Later that same evening, Mary was still having heart palpitations from her earlier encounter with her son.

Oral sex. Oral sex. Oral sex.

It was a big bass drum beating at her temples.

Oral sex. Oral sex. Oral sex.

She stomped into her bedroom with the book in hand and shoved it under her husband's nose. "Look at it. Just l-look at what they're teaching our son."

"The dictionary?" her husband asked.

She flipped to the page with the offensive word. "Not just any dictionary. A collegiate dictionary!"

Her husband smiled with pride, thinking his son must be pretty advanced. Mary scowled. "He found this word in it." Unable to speak the offensive word aloud, she pointed to it, her hand trembling.

"And what did you say to Jamie when he asked about it?"

"I told him it was a joke."

"You didn't."

"I did. What else was I supposed to do?"

Oh, I don't know, maybe explain it to him, her husband thought. But Mr. Mary knew better than to make this suggestion. When Mary went on a crusade, especially one involving her children, there was no stopping her. 

"Where are you going?" he asked as she opened the door.

"To call the school principal. This book should not be in an elementary school classroom."

When she was gone, her husband sighed and opened the book. Grabbing a pen, he crossed out the definition of oral sex and scribbled something else.

Oral sex- a recreational activity designed to torture the imaginations of those who are less fortunate. 

"A joke, indeed," he said to the empty bedroom. A joke indeed.

Okay, hope that wasn't too racy for some of you.  If you haven't entered my banned book contest, please remember to do so. It'll still be running next week even though banned book week will be over. Have a good weekend!!



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