Alice’s Restaurant

December 31, 2006

Welcome Christina!

Filed under: FanLit, Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 10:03 am


Christina, a veteran of Avon FanLit, has entered the blogosphere.  She can be found at  She’s a little nervous about it right now, but if you remember her from
Avon or know her from FanLit Forever, drop by. 


December 30, 2006

Family Time

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 12:37 am

All this togetherness with my family has been great.  We did the shopping thing, the opening of gifts, the big dinner, and the visits with dear old friends.  I still have a couple of days here before I go home.  Boy am I ready!  I miss my online friends.  Sure I could use the library computer, and my mom’s computer, but it isn’t the same.  For one thing, people are always looking over my shoulder while I write.  Much better to go home where I can hide out in my office.

Anyway, this is just a quick visit.  I’ll check out my blogroll tomorrow.  I hope. 


December 21, 2006

Christmas Is About To Blindside Me

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 8:26 am

You heard me.  I’m about to totally lose it.  See, in my mind it was already Christmas.  We have Christmas songs, Christmas cookies, Christmas shopping… which I haven’t done yet.  I forgot that at some point I was going to have to put my blog on hold and actually DO Christmas.

That time has come.

I’m going to be on the road Friday.  Yes, I mean tomorrow.  I’ll start my shopping as soon as we reach my mother’s house and quit in time to get everything wrapped and under the tree a few minutes before we start opening them.

Every second in between will be spent in the kitchen cooking up Christmas dinner, which in our household is the same as Thanksgiving dinner only with rice instead of mashed potatoes.  I’m so glad my mother gets to be the one poking the turkey to see if it’s thawed.  All I’ll have to do is stuff the bird, and move it from pan to table.  And maybe do the gravy.  And maybe the sweet potatoes.  And maybe…  oh never mind.

Anyway, the long (Alice’s Restaurant style) and short (Hey!  That’s also Alice’s Restaurant style) of it is that I won’t be a very good blogger over the next few days.  Suzie is going to have to go on hold and I’ll probably miss Wednesday’s roundup.  You can forget about Monday’s recipe, though I may double up a couple of weeks later.  I’ll try to drop by and visit both here and on your blogs, but competition for the computer in my mother’s house is fierce.  We shall have to see.

So if I don’t get to it on the right day, let me say right now.  MERRY CHRISTMAS and a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!

December 20, 2006

Dialogue Tags and Stage Direction

Filed under: Writing Technique — aliceaudrey @ 11:22 am

Dialogue tags are indicators of who is talking.  The most common dialogue tags are “he said,” and “she said.”  Dialogue tags can get as purple as “he whispered desperately in her tender ear.”  Actually, they can get even worse, but who wants to read it?

Stage direction is when the author tells the reader what the characters are doing as they talk.  “He placed a hand on her shoulder.” or “She winced.” Are stage direction.  They can also be used as dialogue tags.


Here’s a better example:
from Portrait in Death by J.D.Robb  aka La Nora
I’ve put stage direction in bold and underlined dialogue tags.

“Lieutenant, I found something I think — ” Peabody stopped her forward march into the office and stared at the small chunk of candy still in Eve’s hand.  “What’s that?  Is that chocolate?  Real chocolate?”

“What?”  Panicked, Eve shoved the hand behind her back.  “I don’t know what you’re talking about.  I’m working here.”

“I can smell it.”  To prove it, Peabody sniffed the air like a wolf.  “That’s not chocolate substitute, that’s not soy.  That’s real goods.”

“Maybe.  And it’s mine.”

“Just let me have a little — ”  Peabody’s gasp was shocked and heartfelt as Eve stuffed the remaining chunk in her mouth.  “Oh, Dallas.”  She swallowed hard.  “That was very childish.”

“Uh-uh.  And delicious,” Eve added with her mouth full.  “What’ve you got?”

“I don’t have chocolate breath, that’s for damn sure.”  At Eve’s arch look, she pokered up.  “While others, who will remain nameless, were stuffing their face with candy, I diligently pursued an angle in the investigation that I believe might be of some interest to the incredibly selfish candy-hog primary.”

“It was dark chocolate.”

“You’re a mean person and will probably go to hell.”

“I can live with that.  What angle did you diligently pursue, Officer Peabody?”


Notice that Nora did not once use the words “she said,” yet you can tell who was speaking at all times.  Even at the end when there were neither dialogue tags nor stage direction, you knew who was saying what.  Also notice that Nora used stage direction for both characterization and as dialogue tags.  One last point, notice how she has the characters name one another in their dialogue.  When there are only two people in a scene, this is one way of indicating who is talking.  Very few characters will call themselves  “Officer Peabody.”

There are those who will tell you never to use “said” as a dialogue tag.  Considering how well a scene can be written without it, I can see the point.  However, there are times when coming up with some stage direction is less effective than simply saying “he said.”

Others will tell you to substitute a speaking verb like “she yelled” and yet others will tell you NEVER to use a speaking verbs.

I say it’s all a matter of balance.  Try to make each character as distinct as you can with attitudes and goals that will make it clear who is talking simply through what is being said.  Sometimes “she whispered” is part of making a character distinct and moving the plot forward.  If so, then use it.  After that, try to use stage direction to indicate who is talking.  But do it with an eye to revealing character and/or moving the plot forward.  Simply having the hero drive his fingers through his hair as a bad habit doesn’t cut it.  Finally, there will be times when “he said” is the best choice.  Don’t be afraid to use it.


December 19, 2006

“Awww Mommm” Nag Reminder

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 4:47 pm

Tomorrow is the last day to get something in to the FanLit Forever Holiday Story challenge.

 Now I’m off to write like the wind because mine isn’t done yet. 

 Did someone say “windbag?”  Humph.



Tagged for Four Favorites.

Filed under: Day to Day Life — aliceaudrey @ 4:33 pm

Bev tagged me a week ago, but I didn’t realize it.  If she hadn’t left a comment here, it could have been even longer before I found her blog.  It’ll be much easier for you.  Just click on her name.

Four jobs I’ve had:

Summer school drama teacher
Telemarketer (I also hang up quickly.  Better than letting them think they have a chance if they don’t.)
Music store manager


Four favorite foods:
Only four?  But there are so many to choose from.  Ok, fine, but if you ask me again tomorrow you’ll get a different answer.

Rum balls
Fruit cake  (yes, I actually love fruit cake.  After it has soaked in brandy a while.)
Gingerbread men

Four movies I could watch over and over:
None on purpose.  I simply don’t repeat movies if I can help it.  Four I saw involuntarily?

Small Soldiers
The Iron Giant
James and the Giant Peach
various Pokemon movies

Can you tell there are children involved?


Four TV shows I enjoy:
I don’t watch much TV

Four Places I’ve Traveled:

All but 2 states in the USA.  Can you guess which?
Various parts of China


Four websites I go to (almost) daily
I can only think of two, but I hit both more than once a day.  Do Yahoo groups sent to my mailbox count?
FanLit Forever

Four people I’m tagging to do this too:
If Chris had a blog instead of just a web site I’d tag her.  Cat, do you still come by?  I suppose it isn’t fair to tag you again.  May still hasn’t responded from the last time I tagged her.  Yes, I’ve been watching.  Cindy got tagged on Bev’s blog.  Most of the rest of you have already done it.  Anyone out there taggable?  Let me know!

Oh, wait.  I know.  I’ll tag Jill!  Heh, heh, heh.



December 16, 2006


Filed under: Uncategorized — aliceaudrey @ 11:08 pm

Can you tell I’m under construction again?

That brown theme is way too elegant for me, no matter how much I love it.  If I can get the bugs worked out of this one – like not having a stupid line through each of my friend’s names on the blog roll – I’ll keep it.


Tis the Season for Cookies!

Filed under: Suzy Homemaker — aliceaudrey @ 5:00 pm

Seems like this time of year a lot of people turn their kitchens into bakeries.   Patricia McLinn not only bakes cookies to give to friends, family, and neighbors.  She used to send cookies overseas to our troops.  She can’t now because all the people she knew over there have come home.

BTW, you can send all kinds of other things to people in our troops, even if you don’t know them, through .  Just not home-made food.  Twinkie anyone?

In some neighborhoods you HAVE to bake something to exchange.  Not in my neighborhood, but I know there are some out there.  In my mother’s neighborhood, for instance.

I tried it in mine, and got a lot of pained smiles for my efforts.  It didn’t take long to realize my helpful, friendly, outgoing neighbors – mostly men – didn’t want the guilt or obligation of a cookie exchange. 

So here I am all set to bake with no where for the cookies to go.  The kid’s won’t let me skip making gingerbread men.  It wouldn’t be Christmas without them.  They’ll eat most, but that still leaves a dozen or so unwanted cookies laying around the house.

I guess I’ll have to eat them. 

Darn.  *Grin*


December 15, 2006

Fiction Fright

Filed under: Writing Life — aliceaudrey @ 4:12 pm

I plan on posting an ongoing story here every Friday.  I figure once a week you all can put up with me.  So I opened up the file in which resides the story I’d planned on using, and got serious cold feet.

It isn’t that the story is so bad, though it was written many years ago and does not reflect where I am in my writing now.  It simply isn’t what I want to say here.  The story came from my miss-spent youth, and I’m thinking it should stay there.

So instead of The Edgewalk, I’m going to be bringing Suzie’s House to you.

Which means I’m going to have to wait until next Friday to start posting fiction.  After all, I have to write it first.  *Grin*

December 14, 2006

The FanLit Journey

Filed under: FanLit — aliceaudrey @ 9:44 pm

There are some who consider The Hero’s Journey to be a formula.  At least, I have seen it referred to as such.  Could they be the same people who think Romance is a formula?   Poor, ignorant fools.

Really, the hero’s journey is a way that Joseph Campbell worked out for drawing together the common threads in all the world’s greatest stories.  Campbell was a professor in Mythology who picked and gleaned and analyzed until he came up with twelve basic elements that appeared over and over in myths and stories from all over the world.

Most stories did not contain all twelve elements.  All the stories had their own take on the individual elements.  You could not possibly say any of these stories were built to formula considering the man who came up with the “formula” didn’t exist when most of them were created.  We’re talking about oral tradition as much as written.  Instead, consider what Campbell came up with a set of “rules” much like the rules of physics.

BTW, if you ever get a chance to see the interviews Bill Moyers did with Joseph Campbell, do it.  Campbell had a spark – a kind of gleeful, passionate liveliness- that is very charismatic.

Campbell was an academic.  He did not gear his work toward writers.  Christopher Vogler did.  He applied Campbell’s principles to the film industry, and came up with something that works for short story and novel writers as well as script writers.

Now I’m trying to apply the principles to FanLit Forever.  Challenge 3 is proving to be a significant challenge for me already.  *grin*
The Hero’s Journey basically condenses down to this:

1.Ordinary World – The hero’s normal world before the story begins

2.Call to Adventure – The hero is presented with a problem, challenge or adventure

3.Refusal of the Call – The hero refuses the challenge or journey, usually because he’s scared

4. Meeting with the Mentor – The hero meets a mentor to gain advice or training for the adventure

5. Crossing the First Threshold – The hero crosses leaves the ordinary world and goes into the special world

6. Tests, Allies, Enemies – The hero faces tests, meets allies, confronts enemies & learn the rules of the Special World.

7. Approach – The hero has hit setbacks during tests & may need to try a new idea

8. Ordeal – The biggest life or death crisis

9. Reward – The hero has survived death, overcomes his fear and now earns the reward

10. The Road Back – The hero must return to the Ordinary World.

11. Resurrection Hero – another test where the hero faces death – he has to use everything he’s learned.

12. Return with Elixir – The hero returns from the journey with the “elixir”, and uses it to help everyone in the Ordinary World

Turning this into something that will work in a six-chapter challenge means condensing even further.  This is what I came up with:

Chapter  1  Call to Adventure.  May include ordinary world, refusal of the call, and the point of no return.

Note that it’s fairly easy to combine steps 1,2,and 3 of The Hero’s Journey and quite possible to throw in step 5 in a single scene.  Admittedly including all four in something only 15,000 characters long might be a challenge.  But then, shouldn’t FanLit be a challenge?

Chapter  2  Road of Trials, including point of no return.

If you haven’t already hit the point where the main character can’t back out and go back to living his or her ordinary life by the end of the first chapter in a 6 chapter story, you’d better hit it by the end of the second chapter.  Anyone who takes longer risks boring readers.

If you’ll notice, I skipped step 4 -meeting with a mentor – entirely.  Yet it is possible to have the hero/heroine meet a mentor in the course of the Road of Trials.  I don’t think a mentor is always needed.  Bye-bye Yoda.

Frankly, here we are already into 6. – tests, allies, and enemies.

Chapter  3  Approach of Inmost Cave.

Where the hero/heroine has to re-examine the way he/she has dealt with the problem to this point, and possibly make a painful change.

Chapter  4  Ordeal.

This is where everything goes wrong.  The changes the hero/heroine have made aren’t cutting it.  It looks like he/she is going to fail.  Step 8 off the Hero’s Journey is too big a thing to combine with others.

Chapter  5  Reward and Road Back.

I combined steps 9 and 10 here, thought really I could have combined 9 through 12.  Still, I thought we could take a little extra time basking in the hero/heroine’s accomplishments and adjusting to/hinting at what their lives are going to be like from now on.

Chapter  6  Resurrection and Return with the Elixir

Steps 11 and 12.  This is the last big hurrah for the story.  The worst thing that could happen does.  The hero/heroine are seriously put to the test in a final do-or-die moment which leads directly to their happily ever after.

This is what I posted to the board for how it would play in the game itself:

Lets assume the over-all premise we chose through a premise poll is “a traveler finds a home.”

In the first round all of us would try to include “the call to adventure” in our story.  Author A might start with a time traveler who is on assignment, in his ordinary world of history manipulation, when he realizes the fulfillment of his assignment will mean the destruction of a unique and valuable family.  He is tempted to leave his assignment unfulfilled.  The call to adventure is the desire to go against his training.  I exercise my option of “refusal of the call” by having him start the process that will destroy the family, arranging for the death of the head of the household.

Let’s say someone else, Author B, sets her first chapter in Hoboken, NJ in a soup kitchen where the heroine regularly volunteers.  Her Call to Adventure comes when a big, tough biker in line at the soup kitchen invites her to ride with him to her home town in New Mexico.  She needs to go home to see her dying father and has no other means, so he only hesitates a moment.

In round two lets say Author B’s story won the first round.  We are now working on Road of Trials, including point of no return.

Author A continues her original story.  The time traveler changes his mind about killing the patriarch.  He hits the point of no return when the time-cops send him a “partner” who goes ahead and kills the patriarch, then goes after the partner’s daughter, who convinced the time traveler not to fulfill his mission in the first place.  The time traveler hides her.

Author B continues her story with the biker and soup server getting half way to New Mexico when the motorcycle breaks down.  He offers to put her on a bus back to Hoboken, but she refuses.  She’s committed to going on.

Author C comes into the game for the first time with a chapter in which the biker and soup server run out of gas and money in downtown Chicago.

Meanwhile a premise poll for extras is running.  The winner of the premise poll is a feather.  In round three the entries have to include a feather.  (or maybe only get bonus points for including a feather)

Round three – Approach of the Inmost Cave  The time traveler won 2nd round

Author A has the time traveler learning from the “partner” that the reasons for destroying the heroine’s family involve the rulers of the future maintaining their power.  He also learns the “partner” is supposed to kill him if he doesn’t help.  The hero uses a feather to jam the “partner”s time displacement device.

Author B has the hero and heroine talk about his lack of family and her reasons for moving so far away from hers.  They come to see one another as kindred souls.  The heroine finds a feather boa in the hero’s bags.

Author C has the time traveler deciding that the heroine is too beautiful when dressed in feathers to risk loosing but unable to defeat the partner.  He brings the heroine forward to his own time where he quickly learns she can’t adjust.

If you want to see how I would finish these stories, let me know.  I only did this much to show how the submissions would address the Hero’s Journey.
I think using The Hero’s Journey as the chapter-by-chapter premise would not only provide a quick and easy guide by which to judge the entries, but would also be a valuable learning tool.

But I’m also thinking it might be something we should take on further down the road when we have a bit more confidence in what we are doing with FanLit Forever.

Bibliography, in no particular order:,M1


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