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Happy Hallothanksgivingmas by D. T. Krippene

November 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , , ,

In case you missed it, Halloween was the starting gun for blubber season. Nothing like ingesting bags of candy to get things rolling. If you were diet-conscious, bars of hyperactive-inducing sugar were available in “mini” sizes – an oxymoron if ever there was.  Local stores stocked shelves in August, but those who waited until the first of October to purchase might have been disappointed. Space was needed to make room for Christmas decorations. 

What happened to Thanksgiving?  People already have their Christmas trees up before the turkey is bought. When did it become the norm to play holiday music before we’ve had a chance to scrape egg off the front door because we left the lights off on Halloween? I feel as if all three holidays have been smooshed together, with Thanksgiving wedged between the others as a wannabe. 

Thanksgiving is the day we’re expected to watch a New York City parade with inane commentary and vintage cartoon characters nobody remembers. We see relatives that hadn’t graced our door for a year, then remember later why. It’s a sacred celebration where the arrangement of food on an individual plate becomes a science, and we gorge like our prehistoric forbearers when they felled a mammoth.  Would you like leg meat or trunk?  

Food offerings are as varied and quirky as our relatives. What is left on the plate when finished, like Aunt Mildred’s cranberry-scrapple gelatin mold, returns every year so everyone can hate it all over again.  The meal is often mid-day, to allow for slumbering digestion to the spa-like sounds of slamming athletic helmets on TV, followed by an encore visit to the kitchen.  Always lots of cranberry-scrapple gelatin left. 

I put some of the blame on conscientious health fanatics who chagrin our tendency for culinary excess. We live in a time of Paleo diets and CrossFit training.  Paleo is defined as what our prehistoric ancestors foraged before animal husbandry and agriculture, which to me, suggests anything that moved was fair game.  CrossFit is defined as a conditioning program that employs “constantly varied functional movements executed at high intensity across broad modal and time domains.” I’ve always thought of the annual gorge as a high-intensity workout, but since it doesn’t occur across broad time and modal domains, I’m guessing it doesn’t count. 

Maybe what we need is a different kind of Thanksgiving event that appeals to people like me whose exercise regimen consists of rolling out of bed. Let’s call it the Blubber Trot. Participants hop about with flabs of steel barely contained by Kevlar reinforced spandex. The first hundred finishers get to be first in line at the communal Horn-of-Plenty table. Those who don’t finish have to watch Hunger Games without popcorn. Paying spectators will be allowed to wander the leftover carnage and ask, “Are you going to eat that?”

As always, I’ll be flexing my Thanksgiving consumption with extreme prejudice. Once I’m done filling my gastrointestinal cistern with enough calories to heat a small city, I’ll need a solid concrete cap on that toxic well.  I’m going for the pumpkin cheesecake. 

Hats off to the intrepid writers immersed in NaNoWriMo. I hope your hard-working efforts don’t result in a take-out Thanksgiving meal or relegated to turkey sandwiches with a side order of cranberry sauce that retains the shape of the can it came in. 

Happy Hallothanksgivingmas to one and all. 


Anthologies with D. T. Krippene’s Stories

DT Krippene

A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT Krippene deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family. After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream. Dan writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.

You can find DT on his website and his social media links.
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Other books from Bethlehem Writers Group


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Eating–A Writer’s Humanizing Element in Stories Ancient and New

June 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , ,

I remember a National Geographic article from a few years ago, The Joy of Food, by Victoria Pope, offered an interesting observation.

“The sharing of food has always been part of the human story . . . ‘To break bread together’, a phrase as old as the Bible, captures the power of a meal to forge relationships, bury anger, and provoke laughter.”

In creating contemporary fictional scenes, epic fantasy moments, or science fiction settings, food and the act of eating, humanizes a story. Our mouth waters with tantalizing narrative of baked goods and braised stew. Romance tickles when someone gently hand-feeds a morsel of food to a love interest. Intrigue is piqued while supping at the table of a wealthy nineteenth-century Duke. Warmth ebbs in our bones when characters share spit-roasted game around a campfire in the dead of winter. We smile when a normally dysfunctional family banters happily around a holiday feast, setting aside for a moment, that which keeps them apart.

Food can be a defining backdrop with apocalyptic and dystopian fiction. Driven back to our hunter-gatherer forbearers, societies are demoralized with heart-wrenching memories of how abundant food once was. Haves and have-nots when food is scarce, polarize villages, communities, entire nations. Food as common currency is reborn. Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy is an excellent example of this. S.M. Stirling’s Dies the Fire serialized life when the power went out—permanently. Christopher Nolen’s movie Interstellar, painted somberness from food-blighted, agrarian collapse.

Food weighs heavily when portraying communal tables, customs, folklore, and regional diversity. George R.R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice series is rich with culinary indulgence and subsistence living. Tolkien’s Hobbits are quiet, yet passionate diners. Elves are vegans, and dwarves—well—they’ll eat anything that isn’t green. Robert Jordan’s fourteen book Wheel of Time series has more eating scenes than grains of sand in the Wicked Witch of the West’s hourglass. Vampire feeding is a genre unto itself. Opinions vary on what Zombies find nutritious.

Science fiction poses a stronger challenge with respect to otherworldly beings, especially when writers have to define characteristics of sentient alien life. Babylon 5 was a jewel of multiple alien interactions, all with unique culinary customs. Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow did a masterful job of characterizing alien beings by what they shared with pioneering visitors from earth. Hard-core Star Trek fans can cite Klingon fare as if reading from a menu. One of my favorite movies was The Matrix where human “copper-tops” dreamed of real food, but the few humans outside the matrix subsisted on something resembling watery eggs. Has all the body needs, amino acids, proteins . . .” The very sight of it made me gag.

Eating is the ultimate show versus tell enhancer. Here’s one in an old story I wrote that attempts to capture all five senses. A pungent smokiness wafted from the meat offering that resembled a hairless, mummified rat carcass. The skin crackled between her teeth and her eyes watered from its unsalted, campfire bitterness. It was like trying to eat a botched taxidermy job, or an Amazonian shrunken beast stolen from a museum.

A story lacking a good eating scene falls short in illustrating a fundamental anthropological trait, not to mention missing out on a lot of fun writing.

What’s my favorite eating scene? Have to turn the clock back to the 1963 movie adaptation of Henry Fielding’s classic novel set in the British eighteenth-century, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling, where the handsome Tom and his dining partner wordlessly consume an enormous meal while lustfully gazing at each other.

That’s what I call eating.

A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT Krippene deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family.  After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream.  Dan writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.

You can find DT on his website and his social media links.

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Some of DT Krippene short stories appear in the following anthologies


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Pantser in Need of a Serious Intervention by DT Krippene

March 13, 2019 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , ,

From a Cabin in the Wood featured author is DT Krippene. DT is a contributing author in the recent BWG’s paranormal anthology, Untethered.  A man buys a house for a price that is too good to be true, until he discovers the bizarre strings attached in “Hell of a Deal”. He’s also contributed articles for the Bethlehem Round Table Magazine with “Snowbelt Sanctuary”, and “In Simple Terms”.

A native of Wisconsin and Connecticut, DT deserted aspirations of being a biologist to live the corporate dream and raise a family.  After six homes, a ten-year stint in Asia, and an imagination that never slept, his annoying muse refuses to be hobbled as a mere dream.  DT writes dystopia, paranormal, and science fiction. His current project is about a young man struggling to understand why he was born in a time when humans are unable to procreate and knocking on extinction’s door.

You can find DT on his website and his social media links.
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest


Pantser in Need of a Serious Intervention
by DT Krippene


If you’re a writer, you’ll recognize the term pantser, defined as writing by the seat of your pants, or someone who writes without an outline, without plotting, and without a clue. Smart writers are plotters. I’m a hardcore pantser, which suggests I’m not very smart. It’s that irking process of plotting chapters that eludes me.

Have you ever tried to organize one those squirrel folks who is easily diverted by the slightest interruption? Yeah, I’m one of those. Hell, I can’t fart and not get sidelined.

Trust me, I’ve tried to plot. I possess a veritable library of files for the books I write. Even downloaded one of those cheat-sheets to systemize the chaotic asylum of my story-writing brain. So, what the heck is my problem? I’m a meticulous note-taker by habit, but that voluminous archive is a realm I rarely ever revisit. I often forget I made notes. Too busy writing.

We have a real nice office on the first floor, with great views of the garden. I let my wife use it. Last thing I need is to settle into a hypnotic stare at house wrens warbling for a mate. I can ponder a barren tree in winter for no reason at all. Why? Because it’s there. My office is in a windowless basement room painted grade school green; just me and the radon (I didn’t choose the color).

And music? Forget it. Writers love to share what music feeds the muse when writing. Stephen King claimed in his early years, he wrote best when listening to ear-blistering rock tunes. I’d never been one of those kids who did homework with an album playing and the TV on. Who can concentrate with all that racket? Don’t get me started on the internet, and that infernal necessity for all budding authors, Social Media.

Many of my author buddies advocate programs like Scrivener. I gave it a shot and found myself managing the program rather than actual writing. Ever see the movie A Beautiful Mind, and the scene where concerned friends stumbled upon a place wallpapered with Dr. John Nash’s schizophrenic notes? I don’t claim to have a beautiful mind, but my desk looks a lot like that setting.

Write a synopsis first, experts say. Been there, done that. I’ve spent hours, days, crafting the perfect outline for a story. For ease of reference, let’s say the original premise was to create a bird. By the time I finish–behold–I have a monkey.

For me, I have it all in my head, and what a meandering gauntlet it is. I always know how a story starts and how it ends. Tying the two together is where the real work is. Think of it like planting a tree many miles away, then planning the shortest distance between two points to get home. I’m a curious Bill Nye trapped in the Mad Hatter’s head. I don’t take the simplest route. It’s like taking a trip to visit relatives in Philadelphia–via Canada.

When I begin a new scene, I read the previous chapters to get in the groove, jot-down a few notes, then start ‘dem engines. Four to six hours later, I’ve got a mishmash of narrative, dialogue, and action that bears no resemblance to the original idea.

How did the train end up at a different station? I fall deep into a scene, fully embody the character, and speak aloud the dialogue. You talkin’ to me? I go one way, maybe say “Nah”, do a heel-spin and meander in an alternate direction. I experiment and sift through what fits best. Next day, I re-read the new material, and either modify it, or toss it completely. I swear, some days, I read the result of a prior session and wonder if I’d forgotten to take my meds before I wrote it. Believe me when I say that I can write 10K words, and trash seven. It’s not very productive. My process is like rinsing chia seeds in a colander and losing half the seeds.

It’s not like I can’t reach the goal line. I work at it like a job and write almost every day. I’ve finished several books. Believe it or not, I completed one in less than six months (boy, did that one suck). Good thing I don’t get job reviews.

What I needed was an intervention. It came in the most unexpected way.

My wife visiting relatives, the house to myself, I took a yellow pad, handwrote chapter bullet points of what I’d already created. Then I entangled the knotted string of scenes (actually, it was more like taking a scissors to it). Suddenly, it made sense.

How could such a simple exercise work when it hadn’t before? When handwriting, I grip the pen with the force of a hydraulic car crusher, and Sumerian cuneiform is easier to read than my handwriting. Therefore, I type everything to prevent creating blisters. I have the ability to type as fast as I think, generating all my notes and storyboards on the word processor. The V8 clue–type as fast as I think, where all I’m doing is transcribing the spaghetti grid of my creative mind that has worse synaptic traffic than Atlanta’s notorious Tom Moreland Interchange.

Writing legibly switched off the lottery ball spin of disordered thoughts. It wasn’t easy at first. The creative muse was halfway to Alaska on the first page and I had to yank it back to the here and now.

Bullet points–slow–maybe an occasional note in the margins, decelerated brainwaves to a lower frequency and presented a visual handwritten storyboard. It revealed stray tangents which act like background noise. Tuning out useless plot chatter, a path forward magically appeared.
Lesson learned? It took a physical blackboard to see the flaws by forcing my thoughts to slow down.

The story I’m now writing has a clear horizon ahead. The muse may still want to go by way of Sweden, but it’s up to me to revoke the passport and keep its feet firmly on the ground where it belongs.

Author’s Note: If you wish to visually experience what it’s like to be an easily distracted pantser, check out the article: The Perils of Captain Tangent, a Pantser’s Writing Journey with Pictures.


UNTETHERED: SWEET, FUNNY, AND STRANGE TALES OF THE PARANORMAL
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