Rita Mae Brown’s “Starting from Scratch”

A Writer’s Mechanic’s Manual for Any Car on the Road

Okay, first thing and before anything else, Get This Book!

I don’t care where you are in your writing career, Rita Mae Brown’s Starting from Scratch will give you a chuckle (several hundred, probably) and clarify things that were not only muddy, but had been pushed aside because they were just too damn hard to figure out.

Worry no more, Rita’s got you covered.

 
I didn’t know who Rita Mae Brown was until a friend suggested I give her a read. This was back in the early-mid 1980s. He thought she was brilliant and hilarious.

That didn’t tempt me.

Then he told me she could benchpress 225#.

Yes, I was that much of an assh?le (may still be) that that caught my interest.

But I didn’t pick up one of her books (that I remember) until my first go-round as a writer. That book being Starting from Scratch.

Reading the book recently, it’s obvious I had read it at least once before; there were highlights in it. There were highlights of concepts I remember, if not exact phrasings. Truth be told, I was probably unprepared for the book when I first read it (my copy was published in Feb 1988). I’m glad I kept it around.

Starting from Scratch is a mechanic’s manual of the English language. Brown explains the purpose of first v third person POV with duh! level examples and lots of them. Ditto subjunctive case (trust me, you need to read this section). Ditto strong v weak verbs (another must read). Imagine someone showing you a crescent wrench and a 9/16″ box-end, showing you they can do the same thing, then demonstrating why one works better on these types of nuts, the other works better on those types of nuts.

Her Exercises chapter…remember what I wrote above about being impressed by her bench? Here’s your cardio and resistance training in one incredible package.


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Writers Corner Lived Me

and someday i’ll learn to read

A fun experience this week. Lots of laughs and good conversation.

Does it get better than that?

I wonder sometimes.

Bridgetti Lim Banda and Mary Elizabeth Jackson were amazing kind and gracious with me. We discussed my marketing philosophy (simple, really; put the reader first), how I got started writing (blame my sister, my favorite story (Dancers in the Eye of Chronos primarily because it’s Susan‘s favorite), music’s role in my life, the importance of fire alarms, Susan’s encouragement in my writing, how my writing has changed, my homage to AJ Budrys (mentioned in my own interview, my ability to mistitle books and authors whom I adore, all the good stuff.

Enjoy – Writers Corner Live show Episode 58 with author Joseph Carrabis!

Peter Frampton – The Weight

His songs helped me write my history

Peter Frampton, in case you haven’t heard, is doing a farewell tour.

It seems many of the legends of my youth are doing farewell tours. Elton John comes to mind. The Moody Blues will never appear as The Moody Blues again. Such happens if you live long enough. Susan (wife/partner/Princess) and I are spending this year going to final tour concerts.

Bittersweet, that.

Eariler this week we saw Peter Frampton in concert. This is the third time for Susan, fourth for me. We saw him together when he played in David Bowie’s Glass Spider Tour, then long ago when he played at an abandoned drive-in theater in Ogunquit, Maine (the first stop in a comeback. He was testing material. And it was bittersweet then. In the middle of the concert he had to put on glasses to read something. He apologized to us. I remember everybody waving cyalumes, not lighters). He’s still got it. He has neurologic challenges that are making it difficult for him to perform. Couldn’t tell by his performance. And gracious as always…

He opened by letting everybody know they could video and take pix of his first three songs, then he’d prefer if we all simply sat and enjoyed.

We did.

But this post is about the first time I saw Frampton perform. I was already a big fan. I told anybody and everybody that he was underrated, that he had serious chops, pay attention.

And we’re talking the early to mid 1970s.

The first time I saw Frampton perform, I was hiking The Dragon’s Spine and came down to resupply. That meeting stayed with me and became a focal point in my Pushcart nomimated story, The Weight. Here’s the excerpt that deals with my meeting Frampton many years ago (read the full story).
Continue reading “Peter Frampton – The Weight”

Intention (Parts 1 and 2)

Is it possible to be so present the world stops and waits?

This post originally appeared in two parts on the original ThatThinkYouDo blog, resurrected to the new ThatThinkYouDo, and then the ExpandedAwareness blog. I’m reposting it here as a single entry for a friend.


Part 1
I’ve been studying people who are “living with intention” for about thirty-five years now. Originally I found them due to my cultural anthropology studies. Now I’m finding a few of them in the modern world.

“Living with intention?” you ask. “What does that mean, exactly?”
Continue reading “Intention (Parts 1 and 2)”

Hecate having a late lunch can mean only one thing

The joys of parenthood. Even when it’s expecting parenthood. Expecting^10 parenthood.

Regular readers know we’ve been working with raccoons almost ten years at this point. This first mention in this blog is Raccoon Mother Hecate back in 2017 in Heckie, Sheldon, Veronica, Porgy and Bess (the second post I published, in fact. That’s their importance in our lives).

Some eight months later Hecate introduced us to her second generation kits documented in We Got Kitted!

Our first encounter with Raccoon was Rockalina.

 
The above image is dated 6 June 2010. Rockalina aka Rocky came out from our pines foraging midday. Strange behavior. I worked on a porch back then and, seeing her, talked to her. She stop and look at me for a moment then continued foraging. A week or so of talking and I noticed she’d come and look for me. I got off the porch and approached her, always talking. She came up and sniffed me. I brought out some old cookies we weren’t going to eat. She cautiously took one. I put peanut butter on crackers. Big hit. I made peanut butter sandwiches. Bigger hit. We had tiny dog bones. She loved them.

She would come by at 3-4pmET every day and stand up until I noticed her, talked, and she’d come forward to get her treats.

We thought it odd.

Then one night our back light came on. There was Rocky with five kits, all standing up waiting for me to come out.

She was such a tender soul. I miss her greatly.

She also brought her sisters and aunts and daughters, who brought their kits. One year we had 19 raccoons in the backyard, most of them taking food from my hands.

It was glorious.

And it all started with one raccoon coming by in the afternoon.

Just like Hecate is doing now.

Must mean we’ll be seeing kits soon.

We can’t wait.