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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: surprise, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 43
1. Surprise

Surprise, Surprise (TV series)

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What was the biggest surprise of your week?


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2. The Delight of Surprise

by Scott Rhoades

It doesn't matter what genre you write, what age group you write for, whether you rhyme or swear or rely on pictures to tell most of your story. Whether people remember your work comes down to one thing: delight.

We've all read books that we really liked, or that had an artistry or depth or literariness that we enjoyed and appreciated, but that we didn't quite love. Likewise, we've read books that we know might not quite have the literary value of many of the books we enjoy reading and displaying on our shelves, but they've become instant favorites or guilty pleasures. A book sticks with you for many different reasons, but the books that make your eyes light up when they are mentioned have less to do with quality than they do with the sheer delight of reading them.

What creates this sense of delight varies from reader to reader, but I think most of are delighted by similar things, including:

  • Surprise
  • Use of language (see surprise)
  • Humor (see surprise)
  • Originality (see surprise)
I could make this list longer but, as you might guess, the one element that is sure to delight us is surprise. An unexpected turn of phrase, twist of plot, reaction of character or, really, an unexpected whatever triggers a pleasure reaction in our brains. It's why a unique combination of verbs and nouns brings more joy than a cliche, even if the cliche is perfect for a particular situation. It's why a writer like J.K. Rowling can delight us with an unusual combination of elements we've seen in books by Roald Dahl and other authors.

Think of two of my favorite authors, Mark Twain and John Steinbeck. Both of these men were prolific authors whose works vary greatly in quality. Twain wrote The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, but he also wrote Tom Sawyer, Detective and The American Claimant. Steinbeck wrote The Grapes of Wrath, but he also wrote Burning Bright and The Short Reign of Pippin IV. I mention the "also wrotes" not to put them down or to call them bad, but to make a point. Twain and Steinbeck fans like those other books, maybe even love them. Why? Because each of these writers, even when relatively off, delight their readers with the way they write. Even if the characters aren't his best or the story is not quite up to snuff, there's just something about the way our favorites write that makes us forgive, or even ignore, the shortcomings of their lesser works because we know we're going to find something delightful.

That's the kind of writer you want to be.

All of this came to mind today while I was driving home for lunch, with a Tom Lehrer CD in the player. People my age most likely know a few of Tom Lehrer's songs, thanks to the Dr. Demento radio show. Songs like "The Masochism Tango" and "Poisoning Pigeons in the Park" have a delightfully twisted humor, a darkness that makes us laugh and remember the songs. I love that about his songs. But there are a lot of funny and dark comedy songwriters. Lehrer is pushed to the top by the kind of intelligence you'd expect from a mathematics professor at major universities, like Lehrer was.

But that's not what really delights me about Tom Lehrer. I'm a word nerd, and (as you may have gathered by now) I love surprises. Few, if any, songwriters can turn a great phrase or rhyme that surprises me as much as Tom Lehrer.

How many rhymes do you know for funeral? Check this out:

When you attend a funeral,
It is sad to think that sooner or
Later those you love will do the same for you.

It doesn't come out right on the page. You have to 5 Comments on The Delight of Surprise, last added: 5/29/2011
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3. The day it all changed

III Media Maratón A Coruña 21, 2011 P1050094a

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What happened the day your life changed?


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4. Spring Surprise

What’s been your biggest Spring surprise?


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5. Quiet and Sneaky

Happy Friday! I know I’ve been a bit quiet this week. Recovering from a crazy month, I suppose. I also have a little something up my sleeve, but I can’t tell you what it is. Not yet. Soon. I promise.

Ok, I’ll give you a hint. If you’re a teen and you like to write/read and you like FREE stuff, you’re going to love this. That’s it. You can’t pull anything else out of me. Now stop trying. Really. Stop.

Have a great weekend everyone!

? of the day…What would you do on the first warm day of the year? If it rained would you still do it?

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6. Love at first sight

Milano, Italy

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What’s been your experience with ‘love at first sight’?


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7. Earthquake

Insufficient shear reinforcement let main reba...

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What is your earthquake survival story?


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8. Stories all around you

Every Wednesday I head on over to a local middle school and help second and third grade kids with their reading. It's an absolute joy. I love the kids and I love being back at a middle school because, well, my kids are all grown up. I also love what I learn in the stories that the kids read to me.

Walter Colton School. Today, for the first time, I wanted to know who the heck this guy was. Came to find out Walter Colton was the man that built the first schoolhouse in Monterey, Colton Hall, in the 1840s and California's first constitutional convention was held there. There's an old black and white picture of Colton Hall and another old photo of Walter Colton himself in one of the glass display cases at the school. Turns out he was also the towns first alcalde, or Mayor. A real Renaissance Man, he was the author of Three Years in California and Deck and Port and was also co-publisher of California's first newspaper, The Californian--which would carry the news of war with Mexico. Apparently Walter Colton fined every gambler $20 to help cover the costs of building California’s first schoolhouse. Hmmmm, I wonder if Jerry might take a cue from Walter to help get California out of her current bind. His book Three Years in California describes life in California before the California Gold Rush.

There's so many stories all around us. Every day we use things and go places that we know little about. Today it was fun to find out a little bit more about Walter.

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9. The church on 13th St.

I don't know what it is, but for some reason it's been hard to just type even a little bit on my blog everyday. So many things going on all at once. Been sporadic lately. But I did want to share a little story about last Sunday.

Christmas is about many things, but the things I love most about the season are the surprises. Just little ones. Every day ones. Things that don't come from a store. [church alert...if you don't like church or don't like reading about church--not that I'm telling you to go or anything, see below--stop reading now.]

We went to church on Sunday for the very first time in I don't know how long. We've been in our new, charming "hometown" for six months and when we first arrived I thought I'd walk to our beautiful church and then walk over to the village grocery every Sunday. That didn't happen. But, we did walk to church last Sunday. St. Mary's-by-the-Sea Episcopal church is a beautiful red church built before the turn of the 20th century on the corner of Central and 13th St. What makes the church even more majestic is the fact that it sits across from a hollow where the crows like to perch. The land the church sits on was considered worthless since a creek runs on it and so, once upon a time, five ladies were able to purchase the land. They built the church over the creek. It's kind of funny too how the red church is on 13th St. The color is majestic, but I'd never seen a red church before, and, well, 13th St. as bad a rap as the number 13 gets, seemed sort of perfect, considering the history and all.

Church is wrapped up in so much history for me and my family, with a grandmother whose parents and grandparents were missionaries in The Celebes in the 1800s and early 1900s. And the most beautiful moment for me was when we sang The Doxology. When I sing it, I'm a little girl standing next to my mom at our church in Chicago and I can hear her voice singing with me. [My mom and dad met in the church choir.] I'd missed singing it. It's sort of old school and we didn't get to sing it at all in our church in LA. Ok, hopefully you're still reading and not scared off by all this churchiness.

Which leads me to my second surprise. We set up our tree on Sunday night. It was a dark and stormy night. And our daughter came over with all kinds of fresh baked yumminess. She brought us a loaf of this amazing rye bread that she baked and a big batch of seven layer cookies too. It's our custom that when the tree is up the first thing we do, before we decorate, is make Tom and Jerry's, a brandy drink made with a batter bought at most supermarkets. That's when our daughter told us she was in the middle of a ten day fast:) We'd planned a big dinner and made it anyway. Mx baked some more, chocolate chip brownies. They were amazing. And then she was off. It's wonderful to get to spend time with the kids now that they are grown. Even when they try to fatten you up! What a surprise.

Of course I remember the years when the surprises weren't so wonderful. Like our first Christmas together when we gave each other a new water heater.

Had any seasonal surprises lately?

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10. Surprise

Home made cookies

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What holiday surprise have you received this season?


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11. Buried Treasure

Wyeth-Treasure Cave

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What buried treasure have you discovered lately?


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12. The oddest gift

Some children looking at a selection of Christ...

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What was the strangest gift you ever received during the holiday season?


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13. Last perfect stranger

Perfect Stranger (band)

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Who was the last perfect stranger who introduced him or herself to you and where were you?


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14. Canterwood Crest #13 title reveal!

I thought it would be fun for a little Monday pick-me-up! So, how about the reveal of the title for Canterwood Crest #13?!

(In case of any confusion, CHOSEN does not count as #13 because it is a super special.)

The title, brainstormed by the always-fab-and-brilliant Editor K, is . . .

INITIATION


I looove it! We're working on the book now and the title is perfect. There couldn't be a better title to fit the story.

The cover is fabulous and I can't wait to share it with you all!

xoxo

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15. The unexpected

I've had some days to myself. When the time approached I had all these fantasies of just writing, a lot. I was going to be selfish with my time. Not cook at all and read and write. But, fate had other ideas. One unexpected thing? Our car was involved in a hit and run last Sunday. At The Del Monte Shopping Mall in Monterey. Not fun. Damage wasn't bad, but...After finding an amazing spot [I needed a spot close to the Mall because of my sore foot] I had a lovely day with Mx full of manis and a pedi and shopping and, well, OK the Bears game wasn't fun. After the game when we returned to the car there was a note stuck to it. "People hit your car side bumper on left side. was big white truck." They wrote down the last four numbers of the truck's license plate and said "please find this person." The last plea struck me. That someone was nice enough to leave a note struck me to.

Note to those of you in the Monterey area: I've heard from the rental car agency that I used that they have hit-and-run customers from The Del Monte Shopping Center to the tune of about 3 people a week. I'm told it was really bad over Black Thursday and the Christmas holiday. Who knew?


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16. Lost and Found

Sherlock Holmes Museum in London

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When was the last time your were lost and who found you?


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17. Biggest Dating Surprise

Rockin' & Romance

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What was the biggest surprise you ever had on a date?


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18. Valentine’s Day Story

Jacques Torres chocolates...mmmm

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What’s your best/worst/funniest Valentine’s Day story?


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19. I love Valentine's Day Surprises

I owe a huge thank you to Tara Lazar for holding PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) in November.  After I finished NaNoWriMo mid-month, I tackled her amazing challenge and wasn't sure if I'd be able to come up with 30 new picture book ideas that fast.  Well...I ended up with 38 ideas by the end of the month, and can't wait to flesh out my favorites and tackle them in Paula Yoo's NaPiBoWriWee challenge in the beginning of May, where I'll write 7 picture book drafts in 7 days. 

Not only did Tara inspire me to come up with some amazing new picture book ideas, but she also held a wonderful contest.  Look what I got in the mail:

I love receiving surprises in the mail.  Thanks so much for the fun prize, Tara and Alyson Heller from Simon & Schuster!

Nineteen years ago, Hubby gave me a huge Valentine's Day surprise when he proposed to me.  I'll never forget how he ordered champagne and made the most beautiful toast.  But he acted kind of strange when I sipped the champagne.  He asked if it tasted okay, and I said it was great.  Sip, sip, sip.  Then, he held up his glass and said you can tell a good champagne by the effervescence of the bubbles.  I thought the bubbles looked fine.  Sip, sip, sip.  And then our waiter came over, took my glass, and tipped it toward me saying that sometimes champagne can have a bitter taste because of a metallic sediment on the bottom.  That's when I finally saw the ring--good thing I didn't drink it! :)

Here's our engagement picture (sorry that it's a little fuzzy, but I had to scan it in).


Hubby fished the ring out, dried it off, and proposed to me...what a wonderful Valentine's Day memory!  I hope all of you have a fantastic Valentine's Day, and make special memories that will stay with you forever. 
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20. The 25th Year: The Anniversary

We hiked Pinnacles for our 25th anniversary on Valentine's Day. It's the perfect place for writers of fantasy and for couples in love. On our drive over we tried to list all the places we've celebrated our anniversary over the years and we remembered every single one. It's funny which ones stand out. What makes an anniversary truly special. The stand outs are lessons in good story telling, filled with surprises.

Today is my brother's birthday! We've had four birthdays in about as many weeks. Mom always baked our birthday cakes when we were little. She was one busy lady come January/February. I was always bummed because I had to wait SO LONG for my birthday in May. I remember when I was little it was torture to have to wait that long when my bros and sis had their's all in a row. But Mom had to wait too, so that made it a little better.

Happy Birthday, Mark!

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21. Luck

Four leaf clover

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What was the last lucky thing that happened to you?


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22. Roommate Story

Roommate poison

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What’s your most unusual roommate story?


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23. Shhh . . . secret and I need Team Canterwood's help!

Okay, so . . .


Editor K's birthday is November 10th. As you know, she's the one who made Canterwood possible. She has worked on every book to make it as fun, fast, and horsey as can be and she's the reason why there are going to be 16 books.

I want her birthday to be a big deal.

So, guys, I'm asking for a favor--a really, really important one.

If you could, whenever you like, e-mail me (long, short, whatever you like!) a happy birthday note to Kate, I'll save them all, print them and give them to her on her birthday.

If you don't want to send an email, then maybe you could Tweet at her--she's @EditorK on Twitter on 11/10.

This would mean SO much to me and I really want to give something back to the amazing person who has done so much for our favorite books. We owe her a ton of thanks and I want this to be a supersparkly birthday.

And guess what else? You can also send cards to:

Kate Angelella
c/0 Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

Thank you all. Much love! <3

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24. Random Encounter

1982

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Who would you like to bump into today?


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25. Dance the night away

I remember when I could dance all night and get up and do it all again the next night. But what surprised me last weekend is that after I danced all night, my feet really hurt and my toes were even a little numb and I was so tired I just couldn't go to the party the next night. That surprised me. I took a nice long bath and stayed up super late, which never surprises me. And the next day I was still sore and sluggish and my toes were still numb. That surprised me. But today I can feel my toes and I'm a bundle of energy. So days to heal from dancing the night away = 3.


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