Turns of Phrase   5 comments

Share some of your favorite lines from your writing. How about some of your worst ones if you still remember them?

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Great Lines?

What are some of my favorite lines that I have personally written? Wow, that’s a workout since I now have three series and have published 12 books. But here’s a few – grabbed at random.

Hullabaloo on Main Street –

Hullabaloo on Main Street was a political satire in the early days of the Trump administration when the right-left divide was still kind of entertaining from a libertarian viewpoint. Based on a Politico article about how Midwesterners reacted to the Trump win in 2020, I set the novelette in a fictional Midwestern down near a generic big city and peopled it with funny townspeople to amuse the main character’s libertarian senses. The book sales didn’t do very well and has yet to pay for its publication, so I’m unlikely to write satire as a genre again. But there were some great lines in the book, which tried to skewer both sides of the debate.

First is my comment to the reader —

Any resemblance to you or someone you know is purely coincidental, but if you’ve ever wondered what someone who disagrees with you is thinking while you’re yelling at them …. We could all use better senses of humor about American politics.

And then in MC Connor’s observations as he navigates his world on the day after President Trump won the 2020 election. I wanted to establish his inner comedian even before he got around people.

“Beacon barks, so I let him in. He climbs back up on his couch where he can look out the front windows at the distant cars on the road past our place. I ruffle his ears. He licks my hand. Does he wonder what I taste like or does he love me? He’s a yellow Lab. Of course, he loves me! They don’t actually taste their food.”

I wanted to make Connor self-aware enough to joke about himself.

“Like most little pockets of humanity where everybody knows everybody, there are quirks here that can rub you the wrong way sometimes, but I’ve learned to channel my sense of irritation and irrepressible irony into my writing, rather than challenge the people I use for source material. So far nobody has recognized themselves. Either they’re not reading the books or it’s a testament to my writing skills.”

But then when he gets among people, his inner dialogue is wry and observational, even as his verbal interaction is polite and noncommital. Like when one of his Democratic neighbors suggests that their reaction to Trump winning the election should be to elect more Democrats to the “nonpartisan” school board.

How will that fix the Presidential election? Are you planning some sort of invasion of DC by teachers or … er, uh, yeah? Hobby farmers unite against Trump! Real farmers unite against Hillary. Blood in the streets and UN blue helmets on the corners. Okay, now I’m being melodramatic, but at least I’m wise enough not to air my folly outside my head.


CONNOR “She’s not the only one who is afraid of their Trump-voting neighbors this morning.”

GIL “Oh, for heaven’s sake! Are they expecting us to suddenly launch Kristal Nacht here in the Midwest?”

Oh, that line is so going in the article! That is not a hick reference. This man reads, maybe more than his condescending neighbors

But Connor also finds his conservative neighbors funny too.

NEIGHBOR “My god, you’d think we’d elected Hitler.”

I don’t think Trump is Hitler. Der Furor was a scary man with no sense of humor. Trump is more like Bozo the clown.

And then in the midst of a discussion of why they voted for Trump.

My god! The head of the local RNC, Roger sounds almost like a libertarian anarchist. Color me shocked! He hasn’t just been arguing his views when we meet over beers. He’s actually been listening. Dogs will be mating with cats any moment now. In fact, I should make sure Beacon isn’t being molested by Mom’s cat as we speak.

From Hullabaloo on Main Street

Transformation Project

In the series Transformation Project, my characters also reflect many of my views of the world (although not always — I make a concerted effort to create characters who differ from one another, so they differ from me). In this scene, former lovers Shane Delaney and Marnie Callahan meet for the first time in five years during a crisis.

“Why am I not surprised that all hell would break loose the second you show up?” Marnie quipped as she kneeled on the other side of the patient.

“I’m not the cause of hell, Dr. Callahan, just a guy trying to survive it,” Shane bantered back. “You are a doctor, right? At least one of us should have some training.”

From Life As We Knew It (Book 1)

And, in this scene between Shane and Jazz Tully, they try to sort out what’s going on in their world and not freak out about it.

“Still a little shaky. When Marnie asked me to give blood, I had just eaten, so I figured it would be fine, but I didn’t really sleep last night, so….”

“A little busy dealing with the end of the world, huh?”

“It’s not the end of the world. It’s just the end of life as we knew it.”

“I guess that’s a good time to stock up on toilet paper.”

From Life As We Knew It (Book 1)

That concept of it’s not the end of the world, just the end of life as we knew it is a personal belief of mine. The world will change, but it won’t end. It’s up to us to adapt to it. A similar theme comes up in the next book, in the line of dialogue that gave the book its title. It’s a conversation between the very youthful Jazz Tully and the nonagenarian Jacob Delaney, who is the philosophical center of the series even after his character’s death.

JAZZ “You think it’s over then …the United States … just like that?”

JACOB “I think it’s going to keep twitching for a while. That’s the dangerous part. Because during its death spiral, we have to stay out of the way of the flailing arms so we can go about our business. We have to keep the important objects in view and not get distracted by the unimportant things.”

JAZZ “How do we know the difference?”

JACOB “Now there’s the right question, young lady, though I’ll tell you honestly that you’ll know or you won’t when you see it. If you don’t, then you’re part of the problem and not the solution.

From Objects in View (Book 2)

What If Wasn’t

What If Wasn’t is a Young Adult into New Adult Series, so dealing with teenagers. Some of my lines from there are definitely not my personal thoughts, such as when 17-year-old MC Peter is describing a date at the water park.

Us men want to go to the big water slides. Yeah, there’s the adrenaline rush of flying down a twisting slide on a thin flow of water, but it’s a lot better when you’re doing it with a pretty girl between your legs. Multiply that by a couple dozen times and – yeah. Ben’s a genius.

From Red Kryptonite Curve (Book 1)

Or later in the date when Peter and Cheyenne talk about a dance performance gone wrong, where Peter essentially quotes my performance artist daughter.

CHEYENNE “You were supposed to dance that role, weren’t you? You didn’t know?”

PETER “I thought you’d rechoreographed.” I knew something had gone wrong, but neither of them let on, which is the essence of dance performance that I miss. It’s performance art. There’s no retakes. If you screw up, you cover and you do it beautifully with a smile on your face. If only life were so easy.

From Red Kryptonite Curve

The second book in the series takes place months later when Peter has identified at least some of his life problems.

This party is not avoidable. It’s the biggest so far. It’s not ignorable either. I need to get through it if I want to sleep tonight. The commons rooms are all filled with strobing darkness and writhing bodies as I make my way toward the stairs, my nose telling me every drink I pass. That one’s weak, but I’d drink it. That one’s strong. I love strong. When I drank, I didn’t even like beer and wine, but they smell pretty good from where I’m standing now. I want them so-so much and yet I also know why I can’t have them. My drinking was off the chain and I know what happens if I give into temptation now.

From Dumpster Fire (Book 2)

And then a few minutes later…

“Hey, Peter.” She purrs into my ear as she drapes an arm around my neck that pulls me down to her level where I can smell the beer on her breath. Nice beer, very hoppy. I don’t like beer, but we’ve already established I don’t need to like alcohol to want to drink it.

“Hey.” I don’t know her name. She lives on the second floor. We’ve passed on the stairs a few times. She’s pretty when she’s not shit-faced, but we haven’t really talked. I’m used to people knowing me even though we haven’t really met. I’m over six feet, lean and athletic and my father makes me famous. I never really asked for any of that.

“I want to dance with you.”

“I’m still wearing my coat,” I tell her. It’s a lame escape tactic. I know I don’t really want to escape her. It’s the alcohol I want to escape. She’s moving her hips to the beat of the music and I feel my anatomy rising to the occasion. I’m weak on so many levels so I try to choose my safest weakness. Alcohol may be off the table, but safe sex isn’t. I nod to the stairs. “C’mon.”

From Dumpster Fire

Daermad Cycle

Lines from Daermad Cycle seemed harder to find. I’m prouder of long descriptions and dialogue that conform to the way of speaking in Celdrya. Unfortunately, sharing it out of context wouldn’t make sense. But here’s a couple. The first is from the opening scene of The Willow Branch and what I like best is the male camaraderie and dealing frankly with what would be a standard viewpoint in medieval elitist society.

“I do think that second marriages agree with a man,” Deryk commented. He’d already drank a bit too much, as was his wont. Soon the tall blonde swordsman would settle back on his cot and sleep, leaving Maryn to contemplate the eve and his own thoughts alone. Twas always the way with them since boyhood.

“How so?” Maryn asked, leaning back in his camp chair, his darker brown hair and beard setting off his merry blue eyes. As heir-apparent to the High Seat of Celdrya, he craved the rare honest moment with a vassal who would speak freely. “Do you not remember the first marriage, my friend? You were cockled for months before the ceremony. This time, you ducked into Llyr, confirmed the engagement and flitted away for the important things in life.” Deryk demonstrated this by waving his wine cup about this den of manly comfort.

From The Willow Branch (Book 1)

And this is the end of that first scene:

Pedyr…then jerked round as a raven scream split the night. Before he could draw his sword, there came a whistling and Maryn was thrown back against a tree.

Death took him by surprise as he looked down at the two feet of dressed wood protruding from his chest. He couldn’t feel his legs, but he knew he was staked to the tree like a squirrel.

I’m done for! I thought death would be more painful.

Pedyr bellowed for aid and the camp came alive as Maryn died, staring up at the moon with his life leaking away into the dirt by his feet and wondering why the shaft that killed him was the only one to fly.

From The Willow Branch

Words I Wish I’d Said

This year, while I was working on the third book in Daermad Cycle, I decided to give Kindle Vella a chance and tackle my nemesis “Romance” in a serial version. In Words I Wish I’d Said, Autumn and Declan aren’t strangers when they meet in the Denver Airport on the way to his brother’s wedding and they have a lot of history to overcome.

Autumn opens the first scene–

What are the odds of running into someone you know at an airport in a town you don’t live in?

Well, yeah, they increase significantly when you might both be invited to the same wedding.

But I doubt it too because this guy looks – I don’t know – not angry or upset or any of the other negative emotions that usually surrounded Declan like a fetid cloud and that would definitely be his primary emotion if stuck in an airport with thousands of other stranded passengers. He’s staring up at the soaring ceiling and that might be a slight smile on his winsome face. Okay, that’s just kind of creepy. Does this handsome guy not realize he’s stranded at the airport? Who smiles when they learn that news? Definitely not Declan Carmichael. When we knew each other way back when, he would have demanded all the attention in the room and this is an enormous room with an audience needing a spectacle. That’ll get you arrested at most airports and maybe he’s learned that lesson fully. But chances are it’s not Declan.

And, then Declan also has his own point of view.

While I’m imagining, she turns to look at me. I jerk my gaze away because I don’t want to be mistaken for a stalker. Yeah, might as well be a decade younger than I am. I lost all skills for flirting and the last thing I want is a woman mad at me for admiring her assets. These days, the woke ones can get pretty aggressive, as if I’m not supposed to be turned on by females. Maybe by their rules, I’m not. Last week some girl on the bus got up in some guy’s grill about toxic masculinity, which apparently all men are afflicted with. She has no idea how toxic some guys can get. I try to be polite, but I’m still male. The human race is in trouble if guys aren’t allowed to be sexually aroused by the female shape.

It’s how babies get made, folks.

Great lines in literature are often gem-set among other lines and to take them out of context would be to do an injustice to the greatness of the line. I wonder how my fellow blog-hoppers dealt with this in their articles.

Posted January 31, 2022 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop

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5 responses to “Turns of Phrase

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  1. Wow, you’ve been a busy girl, Lela! I would refuse to go down a water slide between anyone’s legs, lol.


  2. I’d bet, probably like you, they’ll publish the entirety of their contributions to the literary lexicon and leave it to us to sort. What I’m gathering here is that, in spite of the plethora of run-ons and comma splices, no one writes a bad line. The option of explicit examples went in one ear and came out the other as “self marketing time.”
    On that Libertarian front I recently saw an interesting MEME. The graphic on top was Trump with the words “If you thought this was Hitler…” On the bottom, a picture of Obiden captioned with “Meet Stalin.”
    There are several ways to handle satire without a brick bat comedy routine. Vonnegut, Hiaasen, Austen and Faulkner all come to mind.


  3. Everyones work this week is fantastic, I love the way your words draw me in and make me want to know more.


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