Category Archives: Turn of Phrase

Bennies Of Self-Publishing: I Get To Play By My Own Rules

I get to make up words…

…and invent my own punctuation rules…

…And write the titles the way I want them.

It’s fun!


Turn of Phrase: Soda Pop Bottles and/or Gophers

I’d love to have an image here, but I can’t find a decent non-copyrighted one. If you’d like to see the machine described, plug “Vendo 81” into your favorite search engine’s image search.


This is a sentence fragment from a short story I’m working on; the protagonist is seeing ghosts of vending machines past. The one that’s being described here was an old machine in the 1970s when I was a little kid and I ran into one or two of them at older country stores in Wisconsin. Older ones were round-topped, ‘newer’ ones made in the 1950s and early 60s were square-topped; they displayed soda in bottles behind a rectangular glass door, with the necks of the bottles pointing the bottlecaps straight at you from round holes.

If you haven’t seen one, it’s a little hard to imagine, maybe. Give “Vendo 81” a search and you’ll see.


Here’s the phrase that tickled me when I wrote it:


“…a dime for a small glass bottle; for a moment the little bottles are solid reality, lined up vertically behind a rectangular glass door, their necks sticking out of their holes like Coca-gophers.”


Sure I could go for a cold Coca-gopher right now. Couldn’t you?

Turn of Phrase: Ridiculous title followed by calling a beach names. Subtitle: oh, I sort of forgot I had a blog over here for a couple of weeks.

The subtitle: look, there’s a lot going on. It’s no excuse for letting the blog go for a couple of weeks with no love. It’s just what happened.


The ridiculous title: I’m playing with the beginnings of yet another story. I do that a lot. A few never get finished because I don’t like them. Most of them get started, sit around for a while, and get finished down the road when the beginning inspires an ending. I think it’s weird, but it’s how I work. I usually have 5 or 10 story starts sitting around, reading magazines in my waiting room, waiting to be finished. I promised you a ridiculous title, though. Here it is, my latest brainstorm: Kitty Itty and the Seawall Broke. It’s not a children’s story, but I can see why you’d think so. I’ll probably keep it. Something that weird has to be kept. It’s about a kid finding a kitten on the coast of North Carolina about a hundred years from now, when the rising ocean has chewed the barrier islands and small coastal towns and tourist industry all to hell.


The turn of phrase is the first line, which I like despite the odd conceit of calling a piece of scenery names: The beach across the dunes from New Moyock is a dirty bastard ghost. Believe it or not, I think I justify the description in the paragraphs that follow. It was fun trying, in any event.

Turn of Phrase: Gopher Holes and Hyperspace

I’m working on a short story set in the same universe as a previous short story.  No big deal, authors do that all the time, right?  Well… I’m somewhere north of seventy short stories to my name and I’ve only done that ONCE before.  This is number two, so it’s still sort of new ground for me.

Mentally, I’ve been kicking around the idea of using this universe of mine for some more stories.  It’s a take on the ‘wormholes transport ships across interstellar distances’ trope of science fiction.  ‘The Craze’, as I think of my model (think cracks in the glaze of pottery type of craze, not the crazy kind of craze) transports ships farther than usual for the trope.  As in, finding a Craze transit so short that you land in the same galaxy you started in is very, very rare.  More often, you end up outside of the local group of galaxies.

Which is a lot of setup for this particular turn of phrase, which I enjoy because comparing intergalactic travel with small rodents that plague the lawn-conscious is nerdily fun:


The Craze, the web of faster than light transit lines that underlaid the fabric of the observable universe like gopher burrows under a lawn, made it possible for human beings to exist so incredibly far from the cradle of humankind.

In this case, our hero is visiting a world called ‘Outblack’, a world remarkable in the fact that it circles a rogue star drifting through the deeps not just between galaxies, but between galactic groups.  Imagine the luscious darkness of THAT sky.

Turn of Phrase #1

Why not post when I come up with a turn of phrase that particularly tickles me during my writing adventures?  Maybe this will turn into a little impromptu series like my ‘snippets’, which are short excerpts from rough drafts.  They have their own category so you can find them all in one place if you want.

I’ll give the turn of phrases their own category, too.

Here’s today’s: “His lower back crackled like cereal when you pour the milk over.”

Silly, yet evocative.  I like it.