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Week 428: Spring Cleaning; the Week That Is; Ten Names For the Inhabitants in the Box Behind the Stairs

In Just Spring

The American Pacific Northwest is similar in climate to the UK. Both are just about as north as the other and both are close to an ocean. My home in the Puget Sound region is typical of the kind of weather found in such latitudes. We get twenty, sometimes thirty spring days spread over the course of four months. Seldom more than two in a row.

When it does come, everything gets all warm and cheery. People appear ready to spontaneously break out in song, smiles are unforced, and birds often garnish people with necklaces made from wildflowers, just like Snow White.

But the high pressure always caves in to the morose push of marine air in a day or so. Then the skies return to the color of junk-sickness, people snarl and wish tuberculosis on each other and the birds take deadly aim at you with something other than wildflowers. It’s a repetitive cycle whose down side eats away at the up because you know it is coming.

Still, spring is a time for optimism. And there has been an uptick in submissions lately that I attribute to the Here Comes the Sun of it all.

I usually do not offer advice without being asked. This has to do with my lack of sympathy for persons who give weight to the opinions of strangers. But in this green season, I would like to offer a couple helpful hints for submitters.

If you are the sort of person who uses the words “poop” and “tummy”–please, don’t. Just don’t. And review the choice of fancy words you might dust off and bring into the present century. Ask yourself why something such as “niggardly” (a synonym for stingy) is no longer used. Also rethink the old way of describing a full figured woman. Personally speaking, “she had killer kazoobahs” wins you an enemy for life. Most people do not commit these sins, but enough do to attract notice.

Two other bits of advice the blooms have brought out of me is the perception of timidity. If a subject intimidates you to the point that you feel you must place distance between you and it or risk being associated with it, don’t do it. I recall after the 9-11 attacks, how every person on the news prefaced relating the event with “The tragic events of…” as though not stating such made them honorary bin Ladens. If you are uncomfortable with a topic, and are afraid to write it straight, then do something else. Trust me, intimidated writing shines through, and not in a good way.

My final observation involves stock cliched evil male characters. Bad dads, boyfriends and louts in general. It would be refreshing to meet an alcoholic father who wants to do better but cannot because he is trapped by his situation. That’s much more believable and has depth when compared to a one dimensional father who rages and enjoys the pain he brings. The sort of person who wears a dirty “wife beater” and eats hotdogs using wonder bread instead of a bun. There’s a Snidely Whiplash twirling of the mustache ends in this sort of character–and he has torpedoed more than a few promising stories.

What does she know? Well, I have committed all the sins listed above (except poop and tummy–never ever never), have seen them all fail and am wary of backsliding.

Alas, another dreary day, one that somehow got lost and failed to show when scheduled last November, is staggering in from the Puget Sound. The good mornings will not be in the eyes of passersby today; nor shall the birds weave necklaces; nor have I further advice to share.

Five Things That Everyone (Should) Likes

This week saw the return of two old friends and the debut of three new ones.

Daniel Ashmore opened the week with On Alternate Realities and Blocked Noses. This is the perfect example of a complicated person who commits evil, yet appears fated to do so. The depth of “Tom” and a brilliant closing sentence really makes this story first rate.

Fifteenth Year by Jessica Cull features an evil “STEP,” but the main focus is the delivery and thoughts of the MC. She presents herself with a well developed and unique voice that makes the piece special. The pace of it is wonderfully restrained and it blossoms beautifully at the end.

Wednesday greeted the return of Keith LaFountaine. Miss brilliantly seizes on one repeating image “Nice night.” And with it a life is lived and ultimately is collected. It’s an old idea given freshness and new insight. Keith shows what can be accomplished with heart and energy. And it gets you thinking about stuff…just stuff, like which date of the year I have and will live through except once? Stuff like that.

Suburban by newcomer Teresa Berkowitz features one of the coldest and even amusing villains in all the LS stories. It’s one of those ideas you wish you had first. The timing and pace are first rate and Mommy is certainly a Dearest.

James Hannan returned to the site and closed the week with his latest The Chicken. This is an extremely clever way of using a go between to illustrate the relationship (or lack of) between a parent and his children.

It has been a sterling week. Before I depart, I remind you to check out our Sunday features and welcome you to participate. We exist to share good writing and ideas. We are certain that each and every one of you is capable of such and more.

Ten Popular (For Me Anyway) Kitten Names

More Puppies and Kittens are born this time of year than at any other. I’m not very good at naming Puppies, but I have a flair for Felines, according to my Cats, Izzy and Dudley. Further suggestions are certainly encouraged.

  • Piedmont
  • Professor Moriarty (can call he/she “Promo”)
  • Mendoza (It was you who set up my partner, Mendoza)
  • Renfield
  • McBain
  • Fenwick
  • Boots the Impaler (a real Siamese, who belongs to a friend)
  • Shax (a demon)
  • Cattica
  • Pope George Ringo (another real fellow born in the early 80’s named after consecutive “John Pauls” took the throne in Rome)


9 thoughts on “Week 428: Spring Cleaning; the Week That Is; Ten Names For the Inhabitants in the Box Behind the Stairs”

  1. To all:
    This post was written on Monday. Since then the Northwest has become the second coming of the tropics. Yet never underestimate the power of the complaining heart. It’s getting too hot and the smiles will soon be replaced by road rage and bellowed obscenities.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Informative post with some good writerly advice. We’re socked-in with fog here in land-locked country. I think a good name for a cat would be MJ (the basketball one) ‘cause cats are so athletic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello and thank you David

    MJ is good, LT and Pele also work. I remember an old Outer Limits (or was it The Twilight Zone?) about landlocked neighborhood encased in fog because the neighborhood had been swept off to another planet over night. But since you still appear to have internet I am sure there’s nothing to worry about.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Have you reviewed my story about Zorg the beer bellied bad dad from Baghdad who drinks with his ten year old son whom he belittles? You’ve had it for a long time. I think that it will be the one that I’m remembered for (Ed Wood / Plan 9 reference).
    As as specific Northwest person I recognize those sentiments. Editor longs for those rare 60F days between too cold, too, wet, and too hot.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good morning, Doug

    Editor is right on the mark. If it were always 65 in the sunny season I would be happy. Hmmm, have to look up Zorg, out of the house, using my phone. But I do know it will soon be a Brave Newt World.
    Thank you,


  6. Hi Leila,
    Some cracking advice that folks should heed!
    Regarding ‘tummy’, I went to a primary school where you would be beat up for using either ‘tummy’ or ‘mummy’ – Rightly so.
    ‘Stomach’ and ‘Mither’ were used from a very early age!
    The cat names are excellent. I’d add in PD, OCD, Fiend and one that I wish I had thought of (It came from an advert) FleaRoy.
    Excellent as always!


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