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Archive for March, 2011

Dear Hamish,

Congratulations on your job.  That’s bonny!  I’m sorry to hear the twins embarrassed you and made you carry Timmy on your first day of work.  I never would have thought the Timmys could cause so much trouble.  Like the character on telly, aye?  Serious.  I am sorry.  Carrying a doll is not something a proper ram should be doing.

Getting the Timmys is all Pawnee Kitty’s doing.  She has friends, you know.  All over.  These friends are of her kind.  While I’m on me mobile frantically searching the Internet, she makes one call, to her kind in the Southwest.   “No animal products,” I tell them.  Pawnee gave me the phone to talk to them.  They all speak English.  “No animal products.”

“Sheep wool?  How about real sheep wool?”

“From a real dead sheep or a real live sheep?”  They don’t know.  They collect it from barb wire fences and cacti.  “Can you give it a teddy bear?  A dummy?  And it has to be small.  Pawnee Kitty size.”  They all know how big Pawnee is.  Her kind are taller.  She’s the shortest I’ve seen.  I do have to translate dummy to pacifier.  That’s what they call dummies in the colonies.

“How much?”  They don’t answer and hang up.  That can mean anything.  It’s a good thing I make a fine wage with me crofts.  You should join me when I return to Scotland.  I am well versed with a variety of materials.

Two weeks after I think I may have ordered a Timmy, a cat crawls in through our door.  And another one.  They are not cats, they are of Pawnee Kitty’s kind.  Five boxes are pushed in along with another.

“Look, it’s Angus!”

“We have your Timmys.”  A box is opened.  A Timmy is given to me.  It’s just right for a sheep to hold, well, you’ve seen them.  The Timmys are perfect.  They even have a teddy and a dummy.  The wool is real sheep wool, but not from any I know. 

They have five Timmys.  Two are for the twins.  The rest for kittens who are orphans or in hospital or their equivalent of hospital.  I don’t think they have hospitals.

And they don’t want money.  They just want to meet me and Pawnee Kitty and stay a few days.  Her kind aren’t interested in money except when they have to use it in the people world.

Must dash, the post person is close.

 Your friend,

Angus.  McSheep.

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It’s Monday.  Angus watches Shaun the Sheep.  Then he watches the bonus Timmy Time episode that came with Season One.  While he’s transfixed by all the sheep doings, I plop the Timmy I bought by his reading area.  I can’t wait ‘til he sees it. 

With a hop and a skip, I find a comfy, convenient resting spot where I curl up for a nice nap.  My ears will tell me when Angus moves. 

The T.V. turns off.  I hear Angus humming the Timmy Time tune.  Opening my eye I see him be-popping over.  His hooves are in time with the beat.  His elbows pop in and out and he has a skip in his step.  He’s so engrossed in mentally reviewing the show, he doesn’t even see Timmy at first.

He stops.  He’s sees it.

“Timmy?”  His fore hooves go together.  “Timmy.”  It’s a hushed whisper, but I can hear it plain as anything.

He surges forward and gives Timmy a big hug.  He never gives me a hug.  Timmy is dropped like a wet blanket.  Rams don’t give hugs.  Sheep don’t give hugs.  I can almost see that thought bubble appear over his head.  He looks around to see if I noticed.  I stay in pretend nap mode.   He pats Timmy on the head.  I can tell he’s pleased.

“What do you know about Timmy?”  Angus has climbed up to my napping place.  He doesn’t climb well.  In fact, he’s out of breath.

“Timmy who?”

“Timmy!”  Like there’s only one Timmy in the universe.

“Timmy?”

“The sheep.  Like the lamb in Shaun the Sheep.”

“He’s a sheep.”

“That Timmy!”  He wrestles my head so it’s aimed at his little living room.  I notice he’s moved a chair in and Timmy is sitting in it.  I also notice he’s not very strong.

“Oh.  You have a Timmy.”  I get up and jump down.  Angus struggles to follow.  He has to turn around and ease himself over the edge, his hind hooves dance in the air as his noodle arms try to hold him up.  Finally he goes limp and drops.

“Thank you for the pillow,” he says as he lays there.

“No problem.  Can I hug your Timmy?”  I don’t wait for an answer.  I’d rather hug a real sheep though.  “Where did you get him?”

“That’s what I’m asking you for.  I found him.”

“I told you can find cool things outside if you look.”

“I found him here.”

“In the chair.”

“Nae!  Not in the chair.  You had something to do with this Pawnee Kitty.  I know you did.”

I don’t even bother answering.  Seeing the latest copy of Croft and Pasture I pick it up.  I put it down.  Angus is fussy about his magazines.  I hug Timmy again.  If I’d gotten the bigger ones, they wouldn’t be so easy to hug.  They’d also have all that machinery in them. 

“Can I borrow him?”

“No.  I need to know where you got him.  I want to send one to the twins.  It’s their birthday soon.”

I kinda remember that all sheep have their birthdays in spring.  I bet the twins were born in April too.  I also remember I can’t remember exactly when.  Oh well.  “Did you look on the Internet?”

“No.  I want one with a pacifier.  I want one exactly like the telly Timmy!”

I think I might be able to help him.

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I went to Target with the Person the other day.  Stores are a great place to find money when you’re only six inches tall.  Money falls in all kinds of interesting places.   I found a dollar Friday.  A whole paper dollar.

And then I found a Timmy.

“It’s Timmy!  Boost me up.  Boost me up.  Is it a touch-me?”  Timmy, for those who don’t know, is a sheep from Timmy Time, an offshoot from Shaun the Sheep.  Guess who loves Shaun the Sheep?  Angus.  McSheep.  He has Season 1 on DVD and is waiting for Season 2 and the Timmy Time DVD’s and visits the Shaun the Sheep website and what not.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he has Timmy posters hidden away.

“I need this one,” I tell the person.  “I need to get it for Angus.”

“You do notice it’s bigger than he is.”  She presses the tummy and Timmy baas.  I am very impressed and now I want it more then ever.

“So?”

“So, it could squash him.  Remember the Pillsbury Dough Boy you had to have?”

I do.  It didn’t turn out well.  “Okay, what about the other one?  That’s smaller.”  Except it doesn’t snore.  And it doesn’t have a teddy.

“This is also bigger then Angus.”  She presses the hand like the box says to do.  Nothing happens.  We press all the hands and nothing happens.  They’re all defective.

“What about that box?  What’s in that box?”  Not much it turns out.   The box has me sized plushies, but no Timmy and no Mittens (the cat in Timmy Time).  I guess I have to complain now.  While the Person investigates the CD’s, I look for a store person.  I found several having a pow-wow in the electronics section.

“Assistance is needed in the toy department!”  Sometimes I have to yell because people persons have notorious bad hearing.  I am assisted.  “I need a Timmy.  My size.  The one in the box.”

“This?”  I am shown the dog.

“That’s not Timmy.  Timmy is the sheep.  I need the sheep.  It’s for Angus.  He needs it desperately.”

She goes in the back to look.  And finds a Timmy.  I should have asked for Mittens too, but I only have a dollar.  There’s only so much I can mooch ask from the Person.  Timmy is rather heavy, but I manage to carry him to the Person.  “I need money.”

“How much?”  She doesn’t sound like she’ll give it to me. 

“Five dollars.”

“I have this gift card I got last time.”  She gives it to me.  That sure was easy.  I carry the gift card, my dollar, and the Timmy to the cash register where no one notices me.  I could steal these things easy if I wanted.  I end up hollering loud and get service.  The Person arrives in time to give me and the Timmy a lift to the car.  Part One accomplished.

“Is that a birthday present for Angus?”  The Person asks.

“Angus has a birthday coming up?”

“April.”

“I can’t wait that long.  I’ll give it to him next week.  When’s his birthday?”

“April First.”

I think I remember something about that.  I only keep up with my birthday.  I suppose I better write the date down.  Nah.  The Person will remind me again.

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On Titles

It usually takes a while for me to think up an appropriate title for a story.  There have been times (few) where I have a title right away.  Then there are those times I can’t think of anything and make up a temporary one or, when I save it, give it the title of the main character’s name or a descriptor – i.e. (adventure in Andes).   Other times the title hits me somewhere as I’m writing.  Out of the blue it’ll come wheeling from the inner workings of my mind and bean me.  A-ha!  That’s how I got the title for one story I’m working on – Adam and the End of the World as We Know it.  I think now, though, that it sounds too much like the REM song.  I might keep; I might not. 

I once thought I had the best title for one story – Cam’s Kitten.  It’s a YA novel about a girl whose father is from another world and she has an alien who helps her.  He calls her Cam’s Kitten because her father’s name is Cam and she is his child (kitten.)  After I’d written the story, I thought:  Geez, people are going to think this story is about a cat and his/her kitten.  Time for another title.

One of my temporary titles is Mutated Fish.  It’s a line in the story where one of the characters, a musician, has to come up with an explanation of what he and his companions are talking about and makes up the title of their next album.  It’s an okay title, but I don’t feel it does the story justice.

Somewhere I read, or was told, that publishers change titles so that even if you think you’ve got a great title, they might change it.   That would bother me if I had a great title.  It doesn’t bother me if I have a lame-o title or no title.

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Angus was polishing his hooves yesterday.  He has a whole kit for buffing, shining, whatevering hooves.  Yesterday was ‘check the hind hooves’ day.  He got out his kit and stuck his lower limbs out.

“Hey,” I said.  “Your hind hooves are like regular hooves!”

“Get your paws off me leg.  You know the rule, no touching!  Before I know it, you’ll be nibbling at me lower leg.”

I let go of his leg and his hoof went down with a thump.  “But your hind hooves are like regular hooves.  Your fore hooves have digits.” 

“Now get your paws off me arm.  I have work to do and you’re hindering me.”  He whacked me with his free hoof.  I let go.

“You’re not answering my question.  Look at my paws.  All four of them.  I have digits.”  I flexed my wonderful, furry paws and showed my paw pads.

“Hooray for you.”  He reached for his file.

“Opposable hooves.  And it’s doesn’t feel like hoof stuff.”

“LET GO OF ME ARM!”

I let my paws drop and scooted back a few feet.  His hooves are so tempting. 

“Are you going to be watching me the whole time?”

“A – huh.”

“Will ye go away if I tell you a few hoof facts?”

“Scottish Miniature Sheep hoof facts?”

“Aye.”

“A-huh.”  I patted my paws together and sat down. 

“Yes, me fore hooves have opposable thumbs and ‘digit’s.  So we can build things.  Our hind hooves are like the big sheep so as we can climb and run through rock and grass.  Fore hooves are not made of keritin like hind hooves.  Happy?”

Not really, but I said yes anyway.  Angus gets so cranky sometimes.  Since I said I’d leave, I did, but I didn’t go far.  I hopped onto a favorite perch and watched.  So he wouldn’t think I was spying, I curled up and feigned a nap.  His eyesight isn’t great and he can’t see in dim conditions so he can’t see my eyes are still open.  All the light shone on his hooves.   He filed away, dug into his hooves for stones, buffed, and used hoof wax to finish up. Once he was done, he stood up and gave a little happy dance.  His hooves still went clippity clop.

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1. Query – Actively engaged in researching publishers and agents who represent children’s book authors.  

2. Post story for critiquing –   (LOL)

3. What I’m writing now: (formerly My Monster Manuscript).  In one story I’m meandering a bit.  I have to tighten up on that one.  I hope to have it finished in a few weeks and then I shall let it sit to percolate before editing it.   I worked on a story that’s on my netbook over the weekend and it went real well.  I suppose that’s due to the fact that my ‘free’ wi-fi connection disappeared.  I’m going to try and work on it more this week.  If it weren’t on the netbook, I’d work on it in the mornings because the main character is really fun to write.  He’s a middle schooler and so optimistic and determined that’s he blind to the bad things that happen to him. 

I don’t use the netbook in the morning because I don’t like the glare that early in the day.  I like it quiet in the house with no distractions.  I have to have the quiet time and I spent it on writing freehand on notebook paper. 

4. Critique work of others – Still going strong on that.

5. Blog more – February was a good month.  I managed to post something twice a week and I hope to continue that.

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A few days ago, I read how some historians are lamenting the new era of writing.  Now with writers using computers, there will be no (or few) early drafts to study how the author thought through his/her manuscript.  In the time of pen, paper, and typewriters, authors wrote their draft, and made notes over the pages, changing this, taking out that, adding words, tweaking.   Tracing the evolution of a famous novel or poem can be fascinating. 

In the new days of computers there are writers who overwrite what they originally wrote.  Future scholars may have trouble figuring out the writer’s reasoning for writing what they did. 

Personally I find it interesting to see how I myself have changed my manuscript.  Since I wrote it, I usually know why I changed something, but people in the future (if they’re interested) wouldn’t have a clue.  Either I go from notebook to computer or computer file to computer file.  There aren’t any notes scribbled on the side.  The only notes I have are from critiques I’ve received.

I don’t know how others write, but usually when I rewrite a draft, I create a new file or I have the older version saved on disc somewhere.  Which leads to another problem.  Suppose the supposed big solar flare of 2013 (or is it 2012) wipes out all that is digital?  What if computer technology changes so much one can’t access our current memory devices?  Then there’ll be no drafts even if one saved the various versions.

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