Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Friday, August 22, 2008

Life, the Universe & a Couple of Kittens

by Kerry Blair

Things have been pretty tough around here. Jeff is buried under an avalanche of interviews and fan mail about his soon-to-be national bestseller. (Stinks to be him, huh? I know my heart is bleeding.) Rob was marooned in Billings, Montana while Amy was out of town, and Julie. . . well I’m afraid to say anything to or about Julie lest I become the writer after whom she fashions the nastiest of all villains. Now it’s my turn to whine and, quite frankly, I’m having a harder time blogging than any of them -- possibly all three of them put together. Every first-draft sentence I attempt looks like this:

It’n3333QQQ`` ?kkkk?/~```XXXX your Y TTQQED1

Have you ever tried to create with a couple of catastrophically cute five-week-old kittens capering across your keyboard? It’s not as poetic as it sounds. And, by the way, that loud gasp/swish/thud you just heard was my husband taking a last ragged breath before falling from his office chair in a dead faith. I haven’t exactly told him about the foster kitties. Until now. Surprise, dear!

So, while I play with Cleo and Bruce (not that I've named them) and my husband Googles divorce attorneys, I thought maybe the rest of you could play a game about Life, the Universe & Everything.

As most of you already know, it took Deep Thought seven-and-a-half million years to formulate the answer to the Ultimate Question. The answer is forty-two. Unfortunately, it may take another ten million years to uncover the question, which is hidden somewhere here on Earth. (This is assuming, of course, that the Vogons build their bypass elsewhere.) As you may or may not know, one of our readers, Michael Cleverly, is hard at work finding the answer. I mean question. His website, Wisdom from the 42nd Page, theorizes that the Ultimate Question might just be found on the forty-second page of a random book published somewhere, sometime on our little third rock from the sun. His mission: Searching for answers to life’s big (scratch that) random questions on the forty-second page. Join us in taste-testing three books per day, forty-two per fortnight, and 1,095 per year.

Okay . . . wow! You probably have to spend a week or so at that site to believe it. Similarly, I suspect you might also have to meet the man in person to believe him, but from what I’ve observed thus far, Michael is not only a possibly-deranged bibliophile, but a creative genius with a wide streak of humanity and deeply embedded spirituality. As his newest fan, I thought we could band together this week to help him out a little. If we each ferret out the nuggets of wisdom from our own forty-second pages, we can hopefully lighten the load on his sagging bookshelves by a dozen tomes or better.

Here’s how we’re going to play. If you’re a writer—and most of you are, published or not, LDS or not—scan the forty-second page of any work you have on your shelf, in a drawer, or somewhere within the bowels of your computer. Although Michael puts up the whole page with the “good stuff” highlighted, in the interest of space in our comments trail we’ll only put up the gems themselves – preferably just a few lines or a couple of paragraphs at most.

If you’re not a writer—or won’t admit it yet in public—you can choose any work of LDS fiction. (Fiction because General Authorities are "cheaters" in this case, what with inside information on life, the universe and all, and LDS because that’s in the name of our blog. Hmm. I guess I’m going to have to modify that to keep the boss happy. You may use any fiction work by an LDS author or a frog. As for the frog’s religion, you don’t tell and we won’t ask.) Besides the nugget of truth, include the title of the book and the name of the author if, in fact, you did not write it yourself. You can enter up to three times a day through next Thursday. Each separate entry will be placed in a box with one to be drawn at random next Friday. Winner gets a kitten!

Kidding. The grand prize is a paperback copy of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or another book cited in the comments that can be ordered and shipped from Amazon.

Warning: this can be highly addictive. (See: Michael Cleverly, above.) Before I was distracted by kittens, I was combing the pages of books by authors and frequent comment-ers on this blog, planning to blog from what I discovered in their pages. I came upon words possibly profound in works by Julie Bellon and Tristi Pinkston, and laughed out loud when the first two of Jeff's books I picked up had forty-second pages that were totally blank. Apparently Jeff is a write-your-own-profundity-here sort of guy.

Everybody play! Please? Not to twist any arms, but I have a pretty good idea who stops by this blog. If I know for a fact that you have written something -- anything -- and you don't play, you can expect a special-delivery package to arrive on your doorstop early next week. I won't tell you what will be inside, but it will mewl pitifully and possibly pee on your keyboard. Just so you know.


At 8/22/2008 4:03 PM, Blogger Melanie Goldmund said...

So ... your husband falls in a dead faith, huh? When faith dies, does it ooze out of our pores and make a puddle on the floor? Or does it zoom back to heaven, burning a ditch on its way like a meteor in reverse?

I'd love to play the Page 42 game. Here's a tiny quote from page 42 of a fanfic manuscript which I wrote, with the working title Soft Targets. Is that acceptable?

Olivia went upstairs. The note to her mother was still stuck to her computer screen, and she decided not to challenge fate by removing it. What had Scott said? Better to have it and not need it than the other way around.

At 8/22/2008 4:20 PM, Blogger Kimberly said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/22/2008 4:22 PM, Blogger Janice said...

Alright Kerry, I'll play your game - but only if you promise NOT to send a kitten to me. I already have a cat who would likely eat a cute kitten. (My cat is evil)

This is from a twisted fairy tale I've been writing. It hasn't been put before any human eyes besides my own. Here's the last paragraph from page 42.

Mysty slipped off the bench and left the gym. Turning Jeff into a frog meant she was doomed to be counted among the evil villains. She hoped she wouldn’t be expected to do that evil laugh. It made her cough. Maybe the book would have some answers if she could get it open.

At 8/22/2008 4:57 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

The kittens are very cute! We would love one. Alas, we can't take one, as our new HoA only allows for 2 pets. We should move to a ranch somewhere so we can have as many as we'd like.

Unfortunately, I haven't quite written anything with 42 pages, although I might have a 20 pager from high school... I'll have to check my bookshelves for some scraps of wisdom.

(Wasn't the answer - what do you get when you multiply 6 times 9? I'm not sure where that's from - I thought it was from the books.)

*Jon disappears from sight by covering his head with a towel.*

At 8/22/2008 4:58 PM, Blogger Pat said...

I've been sitting here all depressed trying to assemble my new vacuum cleaner (I knew I should have taken that Simple Mechanics class in school) I took a break and read this, thinking "fun!" I dug out my meager scratchings and realized - I don't even have 42 pages yet. Now I'm back to depressed.

So I'll offer something from Shannon Hale's "Book of a Thousand Days" which is in the stack of 'to read' books on my table:
"Can I describe what it felt like to sit in the dark, laughing with her khan through a brick wall? The hard greyness lifted out of me like the bones from a fried fish. I felt strong enough to float, warmed as if by sunlight, my bones thrumming and my skin tingling. My mama used to say that the mightiest of the healing songs was a good laugh."

There you go - the answer to life's mysteries is laughter -
I knew it!

At 8/22/2008 5:04 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

I just listened to Coldplay's "42" off their latest, here's a gem:

Those who are dead
are not dead
They're just living
in my head.

(not sure what it means, though.)

At 8/22/2008 5:12 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

"Ralphene is president of the Relief Society in Parley Grove . . . And being president of the Relief Society puts her smack dab in the middle of everybody's needs and every woman's problems. Women's problems. Men have problems, I suppose, but they don't talk about 'em. Reporting problems is the women's job. At least half of their problems are the men, anyway!"
--The Hometown Weekly by Bruce Lindsay

At 8/22/2008 5:18 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

" She was a sweet-faced firl of about 22, maybe a little on the over-choclated side, but she always dressed to the nines in her Lane Bryant, smashingly professional style. Her makeup was immaculate, and her eyelashes batted like butterfly wings. She always sat in a booth facing the kitchen . . ."

Delicious Conversation by Jennifer Stewart Griffith

At 8/22/2008 5:20 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

that's supposed to be "girl" not "firl."

At 8/22/2008 5:25 PM, Blogger Jennie said...

"Web didn't need to see the woman's face to know her eyes were fixed, her ears immune to the sounds around her, and her legs incapable of carrying her one step further. If someone gave her the slightest touch, if her knees gave way, if she lost consciousness, she would fall."
Breaking Point--Jennie Hansen

Okay, Kerry, I did my three. I trust that leaves me free of the kitten threat. And whatever you do, don't send those kittens to Val.

At 8/22/2008 5:41 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

My kids would love one of those kittens! Not sure how you'd get it to me, though, seein' as how we live so far apart.

At 8/22/2008 7:32 PM, Blogger Pat said...

Wait - we have to do 3 not to get a kitten?
...Back to the book shelf.

At 8/22/2008 8:28 PM, Blogger Marsha Ward said...

I sure don't need a cute kitten, so here's my first offering, from THE MAN FROM SHENANDOAH by me:

James had to wait two days before both courage and opportunity to speak to his father coincided. As they worked together reinforcing a wagon, James said, "Pa, did you forget to ask Mr. Bingham to bring his family with us?"

...Rod put down his hammer and looked across the wagon bed at James. "He's a cripple. He can't go."

"He's getting better all the time, Pa. I can drive his wagon, do his chores."

"What would he do in Colorado, son? He has a home and a business here, and his wife can manage the bakery. He's not up to building again in a different place." Rod picked up his tool and began to pound a nail into a sideboard.

"Then give me leave to ask Miss Jessica to go with us."

"What? Leave her family? Why?"

"I'll be her family. I want to ask her to marry me."

..."I won't break up a family. Since Joe can't go, no one else of his kin goes."


"No, James."

Okay, I had to cheat a bit because the scene went over onto the next page. So sue me!

At 8/22/2008 8:48 PM, Blogger lachish said...

This sounds like fun!

Paragraph from page 42 of "The Thorn" by myself:

The three men crossed the grassy glade, and chose the western branch of the dividing path. Eli had suggested that they walk single file on the side of the slightly muddy trail once they entered the trees. This minimized the traces of their passing, even though the going was slowed by occasional underbrush and branches.The waning light of dusk was gradually replaced by light from the two rising moons Jade and Ebony. Also above the travelers, the heavens intermittently peeked in upon them between the treetops, showing a beautiful spray of stars as they continued on their journey westward through the forest. As was sometimes common at this time of year, a dim green aurora danced over the southern sky, and when Eli noticed it, he softly hummed a simple child’s lullaby about the lights in the heavens. Jonathan smiled upon hearing the deep, soothing melody, and the spirits of the three companions were lifted.

Kerry, no kittens, please . . . unless you are willing to trade for two dogs.

At 8/22/2008 8:54 PM, Blogger lachish said...

I couldn't resist doing two. This is a section from page 42 of "The Dream Trapper", by myself.

It didn't matter to Aaron, how Daniel had gotten the stone, if it had truly belonged to him. The facts of the matter were simple: The stone was very possibly one of the oldest artifacts ever found belonging to Aaron's own people, and it had some strange power over dreams, or so it seemed. Yet other things bothered Aaron: Should he tell somebody about the stone? What if treasure hunters had plundered the tomb? If archaeologists had obtained it under legitimate circumstances, what if it was then stolen by somebody wishing to make a few bucks on the black market? Although Aaron had purchased it lawfully, was it really his to keep?

What am I going to do with it? Aaron gloomily asked himself.

Aaron was still for a moment, and then he said out loud, as if he needed to convince some unseen person in the room, “I still have to prove it was responsible for the dreams.”

He spent the rest of his evening devising his plan. Once again, Aaron could hardly sleep.

At 8/22/2008 8:55 PM, Blogger Melanie J said...

Pardon me if this shows up twice!

So it turns out that page 42 of my manuscript isn't very deep, but here's the deepest thing on the 42nd page:

He reached for his menu and scanned the list of starters. Little did he know he was about to take Sandy’s first test for dates involving food. Her theory is that guys who don’t like spicy foods are bad kissers. I waited for his selection with interest. “I think the artichoke fritti sounds good,” he said. It came with a spicy aioli. Score.

At 8/23/2008 1:49 AM, Blogger David G. Woolley said...

Though it pains me to admit I have something in common with J. Savage, page 42 of Day of Remembrance is, alas, blank. White as a ghoast.

So entry number one is: Blank Page.

Entry number two is: Nevertheless, I did look unto my God, and I did praise him all the day long; and I did not murmur against the Lord because of mine afflictions. Page 42, Book of Mormon, 1 Nephi 18: 16

Entry number three is from my grandmother's journal: I am more sure every day of my life that all good comes from our Heavenly Father, March 20th, 1968

At 8/23/2008 3:03 AM, Blogger Kelsi Rose said...

So, the only thing I have actually written that has 42 pages and would interest anyone is my journal. I have several volumes, but alas, I have no access to them currently. I can give you a paragraph from the 42nd blog entry though. Perhaps when I get home I can find something better.

Here I am, up late again, and I am actually tired and want to go to sleep. I just wanted to take moment and say that it is difficult to type when you are laying on your stomach. Your arms don't have the movement that they would if you were sitting up. Yet this is how I am comfortable at the moment.

At 8/23/2008 3:23 AM, Blogger Primarymary said...

Mine comes from Journey of Promise by Joann Arnold.
"Mona looked up into her husband's eyes. The concern she saw there matched her own. 'I have a feeling, deep inside of me that tells me this is only the beginning.' She sighed. 'I think we have to gather the strength of our family,to ride the course, and weather the storm, as my father used to say.
Jake put his other arm around his wie and held her close. 'We have something else, my love,' he whispered in her ear, 'the knowledge that God is on our side. Lets go home now.' "

At 8/23/2008 12:43 PM, Blogger Becky said...

From the book I am currently reading:

"There are times in your life when you feel completely alone, times you feel abandoned, as if there is not a soul in this world who cares about you. But when you feel that way, Azadeh, remember there is *another* world. There are others watching over you from the other side of the veil. We watch. We listen. And we understand . . . Someone is always near, someone who knows you and loves you and wants you to succeed. You are never alone."

The Second Sun, Chris Stewart, Pg. 42

The * surround a word that was emphasized in the paragraph.

At 8/23/2008 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now you know my secret, Kerry.


Excerpt from "Window of Time"

page 42 (two paragraphs)

With her legs still pinned over his lap, Pete unbuckled his seat belt and leaned over her. After he dug though her long hair to find her face placid, he put his hand on her chest and felt her warm skin suddenly turn icy cold. “Holy cow,” he whispered as he wrapped his hand gently around her neck, and cradled her face. She still hadn’t opened her eyes, but he could feel the rapid beat of her pulse in her throat, and yet she was as cold as somebody found in a freezer.

The window was rolled up behind him and the truck grew incredibly quiet, enough for Pete to hear his own heart pound in his ears. Just as he felt the truck rapidly slow down, Pete glanced up to see Johnny take an exit off the freeway. A moment later, the skin under his hand heated back up to normal in a sudden rush. He looked down to find her blue eyes on him, and they were smiling.

At 8/23/2008 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just love contests. Submission number two.


Excerpt "Pilot Error" page 42 a single paragraph

Parker slowly stepped inside her worst nightmare. There were sporting magazines and newspapers, books and boxes all over the carpet. Clothes covered chairs and the single couch against the wall, and she figured that there was a coffee table in front of them, but she could only see the legs. She went to the kitchen and moved a police equipment catalog from a tall stool and sat down at the counter separating the two rooms.

At 8/23/2008 1:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My third entry, Kerry. Surprised?


"The Color of Paisley" two paragraphs from Page 42

When Rosie arrived at the station the front doors to the police station weren’t unlocked yet, and she had to sit down on the steps and wait. She never let a moment go by without writing something, so she took out her beat up notebook and continued to write that novel she started when she first was hired at the newspaper. Rosie never got more than a few pages done at a time, but with every sentence she was that much closer to the end of her book. She was so engrossed with her work she didn’t notice a car slowly drive up in front of her.

“Good morning, Rose Marie Kelly.”

She looked up in shock only to see Jack's handsome face smiling out at her. When she quickly stood up, she accidentally dumped the contents of her big handbag down the steps. She watched all her possessions scatter even as she tried to pick them up.

(Okay, it's in desperate need of a rewrite. Eventually.)

At 8/23/2008 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 8/23/2008 2:02 PM, Blogger RobisonWells said...

So, since we're looking for the question, I've decided to just post sentences ending in question marks:

From On Second Thought:
"What happened with your dad today?"
"Do you speak Spanish?"

From Wake Me When It's Over:
"Found it?"
"Anything else?"
"Where is the ring?"
"Did you give it to someone?"

From The Counterfeit:
...I don't have a copy of that with me right now...

At 8/23/2008 4:30 PM, Blogger Pat said...

I do Rob - here I'll help:
"Did you write a letter for her?"
"Did you send one?"
"What am I supposed to say?"
"Did you get me a present?"
"You wouldn't tell me?"
"Are you kidding?"
- there, I think I got them all...

Here's one for me from the same book:
"I pretended that I was standing up because I was trying to avoid her feminine wiles. The truth, though, was that I was standing up because I didn't want her to notice how jumpy my knees were getting."

At 8/23/2008 7:38 PM, Blogger Lucy Eliza said...

What? No kitten? Oh well. I'm in!

Here's something I wrote a while back on page 42, titled: Olivia(All my titles are after the main character. I'm going for the Weyland thing.)

“I mean you aren’t the same Lance you’ve always been. What happened last night? Did you get engaged to your girlfriend or something? Or maybe you got bit by a supernatural spider?”

Lance smiled, amused. I couldn’t help but notice the dimple in his chin deepened. “Nothing like that. Though, I’ve always wanted to be able to climb walls and shoot spider webs out of my wrists.”

Wow. That was amazingly dorky… yet, strangely cute.

At 8/23/2008 11:08 PM, Blogger Karlene said...

Fool Me Twice by Stephanie Black, pg 42——"Quit obsessing."

Best words of wisdom I've come across lately. :)

At 8/24/2008 6:24 PM, Blogger Cheri J. Crane said...

Fun idea, Kerry, and since I already have 4 baby kittens that have adopted our family this summer, I'll submit the following from page 42 of 3 of my books:

From "Kate's Turn,":
"Glancing at [Kate], Sue was relieved to see the smile. But the frosty look in her daughter's eyes filled her with dread. Confused, she wondered what the teenager was up to now."

From "The Fine Print,":
"Mark didn't help matters. With his tie still attached to his head, he stumbled into the entry way behind me, looking as disheveled as I was. Wheezing, he stopped short to stare at Natalie."
Natalie quickly focused on the cement porch. "I seem to have come at a bad time," she stammered, turning to go.

From "Moment of Truth,":
"All I will say here is that there should be a law forbidding middle-aged men to wear Speedos."

At 8/24/2008 10:52 PM, Blogger Stephanie Abney said...

I don't think I have a page 42 on anything yet. The closest book to my computer happens to be YOURS, "Counting Blessings" so here's the last few lines of p.42 and a smidgeon of p.43 ~ pretty good stuff from James E. Faust on marriage ... "There is no great or majestic music which constantly produces the harmony of a great love. The most perfect music is a welding of two voices into one spiritual solo."

Keep your adorable kittens ~ my husband has barely forgiven me for the last cat I brought home!!


At 8/25/2008 3:45 AM, Blogger Pat said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 8/25/2008 2:41 PM, Blogger Jennifer Leffler said...

"Now, little princess, you're going to bed to get your beauty sleep" Emeralds and Espionage by Lynn Gardner

At 8/27/2008 9:55 PM, Blogger Liz Adair said...

This is from Page 42 of Lucy Shook's Letters from Afghanistan:
When a camel gets up, first he gets on his fore knees and then he raises to his hind knees (I think), then up on front feet and then up on hind feet. Maybe he starts with his hind part first. There is quite a bit of shaking up on the business, and you rock back and forth and almost pitch off fore and aft before he finally gets up. You really have to brace yourself.

At 8/28/2008 9:38 AM, Blogger Michael A. Cleverly said...

Kerry, did you get the email I sent you yesterday about my contributing an additional book to give away to the winner(s) you select?


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