Lorraine Ray's Blog

May 31, 2015

Sometimes I like to pair my books and compare and contrast what I've written to see what kind of a world I'm portraying in my fiction. One of my favorite pairings is Juan and Willy and Last Days in the Desert. Both books feature ridiculous protagonists; young men in the case of Juan and Willy, and young women, Tiffany, Yadira, and Stacie in Last Days in the Desert. I like the fact that the college-educated women in Last Days are not much brighter than hapless Juan and Willy, who wash dishes in a taco shop owned by a relative of Juan's. Some kind of egalitarianism leaked in there. My thinking on this is that in a crisis there is not a whit of difference between the educated and uneducated. I like that both books show Hispanic and Non-Hispanic characters coping with the disappointments and terror caused by their own foibles. The reader might notice that the three co-eds in Last Days drift away from each other to lives of reasonable comfort, whereas Juan and Willy have managed to poison themselves (but they are still together)! I must be implying that the outcomes of stupidity are much worse for the poor. I don't know that I ever thought of that consciously.
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Published on May 31, 2015 18:31 • 8 views

April 1, 2015

The twists and turns in plotting sometimes feel like badly planned jokes on the reader and a part of me rebels against writing elaborate plots with surprising twists. I'm not crazy about those as a reader and can't seem to produce them as a writer. I don't know that I've heard stories from people that have involved elaborate plots. People say "truth is stranger than fiction" but the strange things that actually happen are not the type of incident that writers are told to produce. Things in life don't seem to build to a fever pitch. Wish fulfillment might mean people want miraculous climaxes, but it feels like a type of literature I won't be happy producing. Maybe I'll find a genre in which this works for me. I have been thinking of writing a supernatural southwestern book, and an elaborate plot would make sense if a wizard ran the show.
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Published on April 01, 2015 11:05 • 8 views • Tags: plots-literature-writing

February 16, 2015

I return happily today to the task of blogging after publication of the second part of my two-part novel about life in the southwest during the 1960s and 1970s. The first novel is A Phantom Herd and the second Phantom Strays. The past six months have been spent grinding away at the editing of this second novel. I am now at work on another of my novels which was bubbling away on the back-burner. It's title is Dastardly and I think some of you will enjoy it. Stay tuned for more info in the future.
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Published on February 16, 2015 14:27 • 6 views • Tags: new-publication, southwest

May 30, 2014

When considering what makes works like the The Illiad and The Odyssey classic stories that have lasted thousands of years, I think more modern authors should examine the worth of compulsive plot crisscrosses and action diagrams. Early storytellers traveled through a tale with comfort, boats upon smooth water, without building up crazy top-heavy superstructures, which topple over on characters and readers alike. Was it because the audience heard the story aloud, maybe after eating, and did not want too much in the way of peculiar, sensational happenstance? The plot had to evolve naturally out of the forward movement of the actors, rather than being forced on the actors. It is an important difference, which I think these two classic tales illustrate nicely; a tightly woven plot would have ruined The Odyssey. Someone would have had to unwind it, perhaps surreptitiously every night.
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Published on May 30, 2014 14:55 • 12 views • Tags: odyssey-plotting

May 28, 2014

The Man Who Knew Too MuchThe Man Who Knew Too Much by G.K. Chesterton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


This book is a collection of short stories in which have two men, Harold March and Horne Fisher, seek solutions to various mysterious happenings around the British Isles. The author thought of a fun premise--to have the "detectives" not apprehend any criminals because they "knew too much about how the world really was run."

There are some vivid images and atmosphere in The Man Who Knew Too Much; G.K. Chesterton was an art student before he became a writer. I especially liked the first scene of the book when a sports car flies off the road into a stream near one of the detectives who is fishing in Scotland. People disappear and reappear and it is fun to try to follow the sinister action.

On the other hand, near the end of The Man Who Knew Too Much when a man is crushed by a massive statue of Britannia, I began thinking some of the allegory and morality of the book was crushing me, too. Also, it was rather strange that there did not seem to be a single woman in the entire book. Did this guy simply not want to write any female characters or is this a weird thing with him? There are also depressing references to Jews being a problem for Britain; maybe the author didn't share his characters opinions, but some readers may want to avoid the book for this reason. Overall, this is a fun book, with some flaws.





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Published on May 28, 2014 13:22 • 9 views

May 27, 2014

When I was in the process of writing Trombones Can Laugh my older brother said, "be sure and say something bad about the Shriner clowns in your novel. The band members didn't like them. They weren't nice people." I was slightly stunned by his request. Though I've always hated clowns, I thought it was a personal failing. But no, it seems clowns were not popular with the Shriner band members either. Now I'm always a stickler for the truth, so I dutifully had the Shriners dis the clowns and even added an evil man, who dressed as a clown and threatened James when they performed at the abandoned bullring. My brother was quite pleased. I hope no clown lovers are distressed by what I wrote. It was amusing to learn from a Japanese acquaintance that clowns in Japan are frightening and children often hate them.
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Published on May 27, 2014 08:26 • 7 views • Tags: humor-clowns-shriners

May 16, 2014

Without a doubt, horror is a more popular genre than comedy. Yet I don't have an urge to write an entire book filled with ax murderers, cannibals or zombies. I respect authors who write in this genre for their bravery; I'm too chicken to write a whole book of horror or read many of them. I was a latchkey kid and the hours I spent alone in our house were more than enough fear and loathing for me. I have included small amounts of terror in some of my books, for example, the scary clown in Trombones Can Laugh. But I tend to write comedy to laugh myself out of the horror of real life.
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Published on May 16, 2014 06:27 • 5 views

May 15, 2014

The Magnificent Ambersons (The Growth Trilogy, #2)The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


The Magnificent Ambersons came to my attention several times over the years when I would see short snippets on television of Orson Welles playing the title role. I've seen the scene with him upsetting a sleigh in snow many times. I'd wanted to read the book and looked for it several times in bookstores to no avail, until now. In this novel Tarkington does an excellent job of merging the basic stories of Hamlet and Oedipus and sets the story in a peculiar American time--the years when horse and buggy gave way to automobiles. In some ways the fall of George Amberson Minafer parallels the rise of the automobile in America. Basically, George is a little tyrant, who destroys his mother's chance at happiness. By the end of the novel he gets the comeuppance Tarkington says everyone in the town hoped he would get; I won't give it away, but nitroglycerine is involved. The book has some very interesting aspects to it. Tarkington's depiction of Lucy Morgan, George's love interest, is quite modern. She isn't a silent beauty, but a sarcastic witness to George's arrogant and sometimes depraved opinions. I've read many recent books which didn't contain any droll young women, who poked fun at their suitor. Also, I was surprised to see Tarkington showing the pollution resulting from "modernization." He discusses the noise pollution of autos and the reader gets a feel for the soot and grime from factories that slowly foul the town. I also noticed that Tarkington has George hating auto mechanics. George thinks these horrible mechanics should be kept down because they aren't beholden enough to the wealthy. George himself arrives in the ranks of the workers by the story's end. The modern reader may be distressed by other elements of this book. Blacks are "happy darkies," in George's eyes. The gossiping spinster Aunt Fanny receives rather traditional criticism from Tarkington, though he does point out that George is needlessly cruel to her. Overall, this book contains interesting scenes, and though at times the books is a little melodramatic and fluffy, I think it deserves a read. Tarkington took on a theme that many modern writers avoid like the plague--class struggle.





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Published on May 15, 2014 18:37 • 9 views
I used to think that when I'd reached the goal of getting some of my writing published I'd be delighted to sit in a coffee shop and play the famous author to the hilt. I'm not sure what I thought I was going to be doing in this shop. Now that I'm published, and have reached the grand total of 7,000 downloads for my works, I can't imagine going to coffee shops. I want to work and I can do that best in the comfort of my own rooms where the bathroom is somewhat clean, there's water, light and sometimes a change of clothes. As I posted on Twitter last month, if you write in a coffee shop you risk attracting some frightening people who think they have demons or entities pursuing them. Well, I seem to attract those worrisome type of people. This sounds like an excellent Steven King book, which I don't intend to write.
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Published on May 15, 2014 06:49 • 5 views

May 14, 2014

During one of my vacations to England to visit my husband's family, I traveled to the small town of Rye in Kent. Rye was the home of Henry James for many years and his large house is found at the end of some narrow cobbled street with tall, crooked chimneys and sugar mice for sale in the numerous sweet shop windows. If you don't know about these, sugar mice have string tails and are roughly like an opaque floppy mouse lollypop. When I arrived the house was closed. Years later, I realized that the author E.F. Benson, who wrote the Mapp and Lucia tales, lived in the same house as James, but years later. I immediately understood the scenes in Benson's books in which a Rolls-Royce can't turn around on the streets of a small English town. How would you even get a Rolls up most of them? An odd artist painting quaint chimneys? That made sense, too. James and Benson had great taste; Rye is a lovely little place and a literary treat even without the sugar mice.
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Published on May 14, 2014 07:32 • 8 views