Mystery...Romance...Sci Fi...Humor... The joy of writing fiction - meeting brand new people in places that don't yet exist.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I've Moved!!

Please come and find me under my new name at LD Masterson.

Please.

I miss you.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who Am I? (I Need Your Help) - Part 1

As I mentioned in last Monday's post, I had a great time a few weeks ago at the Public Safety Writers' Association conference.  I even had an opportunity to speak with two publishers (honest, real live publishers).  They both had some very encouraging things to say about my WIP but both also offered the same piece of advice: don't publish under the name Linda Leszczuk.  Leszczuk is just too difficult to spell, pronounce, remember, etc.

Okay.  This isn't really a new thought.  When I first started this blog, I slipped in a subheader "aka LD Masterson".  Registered both domain names for my web site, as well.  But during the past year I've rather let the LD Masterson fall into the background and most everyone knows me as Linda Leszczuk.  So I've got some re-branding to do.

You'll notice I've already reversed the names on the header and changed my web site link.  I've made all the necessary changes to my web site and set up a new e-mail, Lin@LDMasterson.com.  Now comes the tricky part.  I'm going to change my blog URL and my Google account name to LD Masterson.  I have no idea what that will do to my Followers (Google promises to redirect everyone to the new address but...) and I DO NOT want to lose anyone.  Or should that be, I do not want anyone to lose me?

So here's that "help" part.  When you see this post, please leave me a comment and let me know you've seen it.  Then on Wednesday, please look for me again.  If I'm not in the usual place, please hunt for me at ldmasterson.blogspot.com.  (I can't make this a link because it's not a valid address yet.)  Then leave me a comment again and let me know how you found me. 

I really appreciate everyone's help on this.  The idea of starting over at square one is just too disheartening.  I'm also making a list of all the blogs I follow in case they don't make it to my new blog site.  I don't want to lose you either.

Once the new blog connections are in place, I'll be attacking my Facebook page.

In case you're wondering, Masterson is my maiden name. The "Leszczuk" came along with my husband when I got married.  What can I say?  I was in love.

Groaner of the Day:  It turns out that the "Old King Cole" of nursery rhyme fame is loosely based on a 14th century ruler.

The slightly mad monarch is best known for his decree that the entire fiefdom's crop of lettuce be diced and drenched in mayonnaise.

He called it, of course, Cole's Law.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Signs of the Times?

Well, this is not an impressive start.  First week back and I'm late with my Friday post.  As usual, I'm going with Friday silly stuff but I will give you a preview of coming attractions.  Based on conversations I had with a couple publishers at the PSWA conference (real live publishers - honest), I've got a major change in the works.  I'm going to tell you all about it on Monday.  Please stop back then.

For today - just some signs seen around the office.  Enjoy.








You gotta love that last one. Anything free.

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.

I'm Currently Enjoying: The Help by Katheryn Stockett...which I started while following the kids from roller coaster to roller coaster (see Wednesday's post) and finished at 4:30 this morning, which is why this post is late.  This is a really excellent book.

Groaner of the Day:  There was a Russian man named Rudolph, a high ranking member of the KGB. One evening Rudolph and his wife were walking along and it began to snow.

"My, look at the lovely snow," said his wife.

"No, that is not snow, that is rain." replied Rudolph.

"No, this is snow," she said.

"Look, there is a palace guard, we will ask him." Rudolph went to the palace guard and asked, "Is it raining or snowing?"

The guard was no dummy.  "What do YOU think it is doing?"

Rudolph replied, "Raining."

The guard said, "Yes, Comrade, I was going to say raining, also."

So Rudolph and his wife went walking off.  The guard could just barely hear the KGB official say:
"Rudolph, the Red, knows rain, dear."
 
 
(I'm sorry.  I just can't help myself.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not If My Life Depended On It

Pubic school here starts next Monday.  This feels very early to me but then, I'm old.  When I was in school we never started before Labor Day.  Of course, we also rode dinosuars to school so I guess things change.

What doesn't seem to have changed is that end of summer vacation panic when you realize there's less than a week to do all the things with the kids - or in my case, grandkids - that you promised them back in June.  This is why I'm spending today trailing behind my grandson and his friend all over our local mega-amusement park.  Roller coaster heaven.

I'm not really into roller coasters.  I don't see the point of standing in line for three hours for a three minute ride that will make me throw up.  I mean, if I want to be scared to death, I can open a newspaper and read the latest from Washington.  Or as a writer, the latest news about bookstore closings. Really, why would I want to be scared?

But wait...I read mysteries.  And thrillers.  Stories designed to put my hair on end and tie my stomach in knots.  The scarier the better.  So what does that make me?  An armchair roller coaster rider?

What about you?  Do you like being scared?  Do you prefer screaming your head off on a fast moving ride or the delicious creepy terror of a really good book?

Guess what I'll be doing today while the boys are standing in those three hour lines waiting for a three minute scream?  Yup.  I'll be on a nearby bench...with a really good book.

I'm Currently Enjoying:  The Bogey Man by Marja McGraw

Groaner of the Day:  A man goes into a bar and orders a beer. He takes a sip of the beer and a small voice says "Nice Tie."

The man looks around and doesn't see anyone. A little puzzled he takes another sip.  This time the voice says, "Nice shirt, too".

Now the man calls the bartender back and complains that everytime he takes a sip of beer he hears a small voice.

The bartender says, "Oh, never mind that. That's just the peanuts, they're complimentary."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Alas, Poor Yorick...

I'm baaaaack.  Did you miss me?  (Someone please lie and say yes.)

I have so much I'd like to share it's hard to know where to begin.  First, a news flash:

I've finished my first draft on my WIP and started re-writes and edits.  Okay, it's nowhere near finished - lots of additions and changes to do - but I did get to type those beautiful words: The End.  Can I get a Woo Woo?

Next, I'd like to back up a bit and say a few words about the Public Safety Writers Association conference I attended last month.  It was great. In addition to some excellent sessions on writing, we learned about fires, forensics, police psychology, going undercover, and "How TV and Movies Get It Wrong."  Love NCIS?  Sorry, in reality there is no Ducky or Abby - NCIS doesn't have it's own morgue or lab.  (I was crushed.)




I'm going to devote a few posts later to sharing some of what I learned there but for now, I'd like to introduce a new friend.





In one of our sessions we got to examine this skull which was found thirty years ago in the desert.  What can we learn from a well-dried skull?  You'd be surprised.  This one had three bullet holes in it.  I guessed it was probably a homicide.  (I'm so bright.)

I'm also starting blog-following again but I've got a lot of catching up to do so please forgive me if I don't do any commenting for a bit.

I've missed you all.  It's good to be back.

I'm currently enjoying:  Just finished The Ballad of Johnny Madigan by John A. Bray

Groaner of the Day: A young man had been working as a bag boy in a supermarket for several years.

One day the supermarket got new orange juice machines.

The bag boy was excited and asked the manager if he could work the juice machines.

The manager turned him down.

The bag boy said, "But I've been working here for five years. Why can't I run the juice machines?"

The manager said, "I'm sorry, but baggers can't be juicers."

(Now see how you've missed me.)


Monday, July 11, 2011

Hard News

When I took a blog-break at the beginning of June, I expected to be back for the first of July.  As July approached, though I was nowhere near caught up with other things, I still intended to post on July 1.  Then life took a sad turn.

Those of you who have been with me a while followed my dear Brandi through our attempts to save her ulcerated eye.  We saved the eye, although she lost much of the vision in it.  On Wednesday, June 29, her other eye ulcerated suddenly.  By Thursday she was totally and permanently blind.  Our options were to remove her eyes, which were causing her significant pain, or have her put to sleep.

Even though she also suffered from arthritis and partial hearing loss, we weren't ready  to accept the second option, so we scheduled the surgery for Tuesday - after the holiday weekend.  By Saturday we knew we'd made a mistake.  Watching our dear old girl stumbling around in the dark told us what we didn't want to know.  It was time. 

Sadly, she still had to wait until the vet's office re-opened on Tuesday, so we spent her last three days trying to make her comfortable and saying goodbye.  She left us Tuesday morning.  The empty place she left in our lives cannot be measured.





I'm attending the PSWA conference later this week, followed by hosting out of town guests, so I probably won't get back to regular blogging/blog following until the end of July.  Just wanted you to know I'm still here. 

Have a kind thought for our Brandi.  She's gone to join Chance at the Rainbow Bridge.

Friday, June 3, 2011

I Really Hate to Do This

I started this blog last spring. I really had no idea what I was doing (as I admitted in my first post).  I was polishing an almost finished manuscript and I was five months from retirement - ready to dive full time into my lifelong dream of being a published author.  And I was starting to discover the wealth of resources available to writers online.  One of the first things I learned was unpublished hopefuls need an online presence, so I created a website and started this blog.  

It's been fun.  I've met some great people, found (and keep finding) great blogs to follow, joined a few excellent e-mail groups, taken some really good workshops, and learned a lot about my craft.  I still may not know exactly what I'm doing but I've been having a good time with it and I've picked up a small but lovely group of Followers (bless each and every one of you).

In the meantime, I made the discovery that my finished manuscript was way too big and attempts to trim it down to size just weren't working.  So I disassembled it into two separate stories and started over.

Now I'm almost six months into retirement.  That new first draft that was about 30% complete in February is still about 30% complete.  A couple family issues have been added into the mix and my writing is at a standstill.  Time for drastic action. 

I've seen the word "blogcation" and the phrase "going dark".  I don't know if either fits but I'm basically saying good-bye for at least the month of June.  I'll try to put a blurb on FB every so often so you'll know I'm still around.  Please don't forget me or "unfollow" me before I get back.  

See you later.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day

You may have seen this quote before. 

"A veteran is someone who, at one point in his life, wrote a blank check made payable to 'The United States of America' for an amount of 'up to and including my life'."


On Memorial Day we honor those who paid that check in full.


Our local Boy Scout Troops place flags at the Veterans' Cemetary.



The graves of those who died for us.


While you're enjoying your holiday weekend, having a cook out or maybe heading for the pool, take a moment and give thanks. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011

After the Storm

It's been a crazy weather week here in southwest Ohio, as it has for much of the country.  Thunderstorms, high winds, baseball size hail, and almost nightly tornado warnings (with luckily, only a few minor touchdowns).  And rain.  Lots and lots of rain.  But this evening, after the last storm had rolled through, we had this...


If you look closely, you can see a second fainter rainbow to the right of the brighter one.  At this point the rainbow only extended from the top of the trees up to where it fades out in the picture above.



As I watched it, the top arc formed (picture above) and began to descend on the left side (below).
 

Then offered this beautiful finale.



Have a wonderful weekend.


 
I'm Currently Enjoying: Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day: The carnival was in town at Nottingham, so Robin Hood told the boys they could go in and have some fun.

There were lots of games and at one booth, you could win a prize by hitting a ten cent silver coin with a lance thrown from twenty paces.

As Friar Tuck was passing the booth, the guy running the game called out to him: "Hey,Brother, can you spear a dime?"

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What's That Number Again?

Just a quick post this morning.  Got to get out and plant some flowers before it starts raining again.

I had one of those moments this morning.  It's my beloved spouse's birthday so I got up early to make him a special breakfast.  Now, I know how old he is today.  And I know there's a four year difference between his age and mine.  But this morning the numbers didn't work.  Somehow we were five years apart.  It seems when I had my birthday earlier this month, I'd managed not to click the magic clicker in my head.  The birthday had come and gone but my age had stayed the same.  What a shock this morning to realize I was a year older.


Do you ever forget how old you are?  For just a second?  You start to say, "Oh, she's about my age," and realize you haven't been that age for a long time.  You see an unexpected reflection of yourself and wonder who that old woman is.  Is the age you are on the inside getting further and futher from the stupid number on your driver's license?
 
I don't care.  I've had a coffee mug for years (given to me by my co-workers) that reads: "I may be getting older but I refuse to grow up."  Works for me.  How about you?

Off to my planting.

Happy Birthday, honey.

I'm Currently Enjoying: Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day: This woman ordered an exotic snake through a mail order operation. When the package arrived, there were only feathery necklaces in the box.

Apparently, the boa cons tricked her.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Scammed by a Dog?

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while know my household is occupied by myself, my hubby of many decades, and our child (canine variety), Brandi.  Brandi is fifteen and suffers many of the usual complaints of old age.  Her vision is failing, as is her hearing, and she has arthritis. 



Because of these various ailments, she takes serveral daily medications.  Brandi is pretty good about taking her meds - if I tuck each pill into a small blob of canned dog food and feed it to her by hand.  Usually I do the meds first and then put the rest of the allotted canned food into her bowl and she takes it from there. 

Until last week.

On Friday I noticed that she wasn't eating the food in her bowl.  She was licking all around the edges but not getting any of the chunky parts.  Concerned, I knelt beside her and started scooping up small amounts of food onto my fingers and feeding her bite by bite.  She ate the whole meal and seemed happy.  I decided she must have been having trouble picking up the chunks.  We repeated this routine on Saturday and Sunday.  I put the food in her dish, she licked around the edges, and I fingerfed her the rest.

This morning, as I was hand feeding her little fingerfulls of dog goop, it occured to me that this can didn't have any chunks.  It was pretty much all goop.  Nice soft disgusting goop.  Which I had put in her bowl and she had given a couple token licks before turning to me for help.  No chunks.  Nothing to pick up.  No reason she couldn't eat it herself.  But here I was, sitting on the floor, fingerfeeding her royal highness as she graciously accepted each morsel. 

Am I being had?  Is the old girl putting one over on me...just because she can?  What do you think?


Feed Me.
I'm Currently Enjoying:  Suspense and Sensibility by Carrie Bebris

Groaner of the Day:  I had a dream the other night. I was in the old West riding in a stagecoach. Suddenly, a man riding a horse pulls up to the left side of the stagecoach, and a riderless horse pulls up on the right.

The man leans down, pulls open the door, and jumps off his horse into the stagecoach. Then he opens the other door and jumps onto the other horse.

Just before he rode off, I yelled out, "What was all that about?"

He replied, "Nothing. It's just a stage I'm going through."

Friday, May 20, 2011

Something Different for Friday Fun

TGIF!   I thought I do something a little different for this Friday.  A couple blogs I follow offer puzzles on their fun days and I've become quite addicted to them.  Well, no one likes being addicted all alone so let's see if I can drag some of you along.  Just click on the play button.

My best time (yeah, I had to try it a couple times) was 2:35.  What's yours?

Click to Mix and Solve


The silly weather people have promised a little sunshine here for this weekend.  I've got my fingers crossed.  Sure would like to get my garden planted. What do you have planned for your weekend?

I'm currently enjoying:  Just finished Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich (a fun read)

Groaner of the Day: A college freshman on a dare stole twenty-three bottles of beer one night. He was caught but to his relief the District Attorney dropped the charges.

She said she could not make a case of it!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cliffhangers and Sequels - Part Two

Continuing on the subject of cliffhangers (if you missed Part One, click here)... 

{SPOILER ALERT - IF YOU HAVEN'T WATCHED THIS WEEK'S CASTLE YET, STOP READING NOW AND COME BACK AFTER YOU'VE SEEN IT.}



Since I wrote part one of this post, I've watched the season finales of three network TV shows.  All three ended in serious cliffhangers, including my favorite, Castle, which ended with the classic: Beckett shot and possibily dying in Castle's arms.

ARGH!!

But today I want to talk about books.  I love a book series. It fun to start a book already knowing the main character(s), like catching up with an old friend.  Series allow for deeper development of characters and relationships than would be possibile in a single book.  I also enjoy story arcs that run over several books or loose ends/questions that will carry over into a sequel.  But cliffhangers...when the next book won't be out for months or years or possibly (gasp!) ever!  Please don't do that to me.

So where's the line?  What's a sequel setup and what's a chiffhanger?  I tried looking up definitions and there's a lot of gray area on this one, so in lieu of a definitive answer, I'm going to give my opinion.  And ask for yours.

First, the obvious - leaving a main character in immediate danger is a cliffhanger.  Seriously injured, trapped in a burning building, in a car speeding down the hill with no brakes, held hostage, or with the bad guy sneaking in the back door while our hero/heroine waits unsuspectingly.  Definite cliffhangers.  Non-violent versions?  The main character on the verge of a life changing decision (when the choice is not a foregone conclusion for the reader).  A whodunit that ends with "I know who the killer is."

Sequel setups for me are more along the line of unanswered questions or possibilities.  Relationships that may grow or change, problems not completely resolved, a main character heading off on a new adventure, even the classic - the body of the villain that was supposed to be dead is missing. 

Sometimes it's a very fine line.  Say you're at the end of a cop drama.  Crime solved. Bad guy caught. Sadly, the cop's partner was killed in the line of duty.  Final scene, cop is talking to his Captain and hears someone come into the room behind him. Captain says "I want you to meet your new partner."  Final lines:

It was going to be hard; Joe and I were partners a long time.  But he was gone.  I turned around and extended my hand.

It was going to be hard; Joe and I were partners a long time. But he was gone. I turned around and my jaw hit the floor.


To me, the first is a sequel setup. the second is a cliffhanger.

Okay, let's hear from you.  What do you think the difference is between a cliffhanger and a sequel setup?  How do you feel about both or either? 

Special note: Congratulations to Cathy Pegau who won last Friday's Caption Contest.  Cathy selected as her prize, BOOKMARKED FOR DEATH by Lorna Barrett.  Thanks to everyone who played.  You came up with some really great captions.

I'm currently enjoying: Wicked Appetite by Janet Evanovich

Groaner of the Day:   A man walked into a haunted house wanting to get a picture of a ghost with his camera. After a couple hours, he finally saw one. It was a friendly ghost who actually posed for the picture.

The man took the picture, but it turned out too dark. So the ghost posed for another one, and the picture again turned out dark.

The ghost had to leave so the man did not get a picture.

Another case of - the spirit was willing but the flash was weak.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Cliffhangers and Sequels - Part One

It's May.  The end of network television's regular season.  And it seems that every scripted show is finishing the year with cliffhanger.

I'm not crazy about cliffhangers.

Many of us remember the summer of 1980 when the world held its collective breath wondering Who Shot JR, but the cliffhanger began way before someone put a bullet in JR Ewing on the TV show Dallas.  In the late 1800's, many novels were printed in serial format in newspapers and periodicals, and authors employed a variety of such devices to hold on to their readers' interest.  Early cinema included short serials that ended every episode with the hero or heroine facing some grave danger (from which they would miraculously escape in the opening minutes of the next installment).

For years, most TV cliffhangers were found in two part episodes.  You know, the ones that ended with "To be continued..." and left you screaming at the TV and tuning in the following week.  But is there truly a point to season ending cliffhangers?   I don't know about you, but I rarely spend the off season (summer for broadcast networks, winter for most cable networks) worrying about a character on a TV show.  Does anyone remember we left Jane Rizzoli bleeding out on the sidewalk in front of the police station last fall.  Okay, maybe now that I've mentioned it, but have you been counting the weeks until Rizzoli and Isles starts its new season so you can find out what happened?  Probably not.

Cliffhanger endings lose their effectiveness when too much time elapses before the next installment, between the set up and the payoff.  This is why they're less effective for feature films.  But what about films that are part of a series with a continuing story arc?  Lord of the Rings.  Star Wars.  Each movie has to include the set up for the next.  Sometimes the set up has a definite 'cliffhanger' feel to it.  (I was seriously annoyed when The Empire Strikes Back ended with Han Solo encased in carbonite and in the hands of the slimy Jabba the Hut.)

So where is the line between acceptable setup for a sequel and a true cliffhanger.  And how does this translate from TV and movies to books?  I'll take a look at those questions on Wednesday.  (When I will also announce the winner of last Friday's caption contest.)

In the meantime, what were some of your favorite or least favorite cliffhangers (TV or movie)?

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Groaner of the Day: Two cannibals meet one day. The first cannibal says, "You know, I just can't seem to get a tender Missionary. I've baked them, I've roasted them, I've stewed them, I've barbecued them, I've tried every sort of marinade. I just cannot seem to get them tender."

The second cannibal asks, "What kind of Missionary do you use?"

The other replied, "You know, the ones that hang out at that place at the bend of the river. They have those brown cloaks with a rope around the waist and they're sort of bald on top with a funny ring of hair on their heads."

"Ah, ha!" the second cannibal replies. "No wonder ... those are friars!"

(Oh, that's so awful.  I'm almost embarrassed.  Almost.)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Friday Caption Contest

Happy Friday!

If Blogger is feeling more cooperative now, it's time for another Fun Friday Caption Contest.

You know the rules.  Give me your best caption for one or more of the pitchers below (more is merrier) and you'll be included in a drawing for a free book - your choice from assorted titles, some print, some e-books.

Don't forget to include your e-mail address in your comment.

Ready?  Let's caption!

1.

2. 

3.

4. 

5. 


Did you come up with some good ones?

I've got some writing, some gardening, and several grandkids' lacrosse games on my agenda for the weekend.  What's on yours?


I'm currently enjoying: Beautiful Lies by Lisa Unger

Groaner of the Day: A young man was in love with two women and could not decide which of them to marry. Finally he went to a marriage counselor. When asked to describe his two loves, he noted that one was a great poet and the other made delicious pancakes.

"Oh" said the counselor, "I see what the problem is. You can't decide whether to marry for batter or verse."
(all together now...grooooaaan)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A Mystery, a Sad Note, and a Blatent Plug

I don't normally post on Tuesday but there are things I need to say today.

First - the mystery:

I did so buy my husband an Anniversary card.  I went to the Hallmark store last week and bought three Mother's Day cards, two birthday cards, and one beautiful "to my husband" anniversary card.  As I usually do, I stashed the bag of cards in a drawer in the china hutch.  On Mother's Day, I took out, signed and gave the three Mother's Day cards and one birthday card to the appropriate people.  (The other birthday card is for later.)

Today is our 42nd anniversary.  This morning, I slipped downstairs early to sign the anniversary card and set it beside my husband's breakfast.  The Hallmark bag was still there.  It contained two lovely little gold crown seals, a receipt for all the cards mentioned above, and one birthday card.  My beautiful anniversary card was missing.

Although I'm quite certain I never removed it from the bag, I began to search all through the hutch.  Lo and behold, I found an anniversary card.  But it didn't look familiar.  I know mine said "to my husband".  This one said...oops, I guess my hubby stashes his cards in the hutch, too.  Sorry, hon.


I've searched every place I can think of and still no card.  So help me out, mystery fans...where's my lovely anniversary card?

The sad note:

Jane Kennedy Sutton's blog Jane's Ride contained the incredibly sad news yesterday that Jane passed away last Friday.  Please keep Jane's family in your thoughts and prayer's.

The blatent plug:

For my friend, Maria Zannini - Maria's latest, Apocalypse Rising, was released yesterday.  I read it.  I loved it. I strongly recommend it.  Actually, I recommend you buy Touch of Fire and Apocalypse Rising and read them in order so you can savor this romantic adventure from its beginning. 



Oh, one other thing I have to do:

To our good friends Jim and Karin, who also just happen to tie the knot 42 years ago today - Happy Anniversary!

No groaner today.  Two days in a row would be too much for some of you to handle.  (You know who you are.)

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Birthday Present

It was a lousy way to spend his birthday.  Working all day then spending his evening in school.  Of course, there were a lot of guys in the same boat back then.  They had left to fight as soon as they turned 18 and now that the war was over, they were married with kids, trying to get through college the hard way. 



He got off the bus around 10:30, expecting to walk the several blocks to his in-laws where they were staying so her parents could help his very pregnant wife take care of their two year old son.  Then he saw the car waiting at the corner.  Hey, the day might not be a total loss after all.  They had come to meet him.  Probably going to take him out for an ice cream or something.  Not wanting to admit how pleased he was at the prospect, he assumed a Joe Cool saunter and strolled on over.

"Hi.  What are you doing here?"

"Get in the damn car, " his father-in-law barked.  "She having the baby!"

They reached the hospital in record time, popped his wife into a waiting wheelchair and hurried into the lobby.  A nurse armed with a clipboard stopped them.

"She having the baby," the frantic husband announced.

"Just a few questions," the nurse insisted.

The figure in the wheelchair looked up and said quietly, "Oh, I don't think we have time for that."

There must have been something in that soft voice, or perhaps in the young woman's eyes, but the nurse handed the clipboard to the young dad.  "You start on these.  We're going upstairs."

Fifteen minutes later, his daughter was born. 

For years two running family jokes would be the daughter complaining that every birthday cake she ever had bore two names and the father compaing that she was the most expensive gift he ever received - one he'd been paying for ever since. 



Happy Birthday, Dad.


I'm currently enjoying: Apocalypse Rising by Maria Zannini

Groaner of the Day: Most people don't know that back in 1912, Hellmann's mayonnaise was manufactured in England. In fact, the Titanic was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico, which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after its stop in New York. This would have been the largest single shipment of mayonnaise ever delivered to Mexico.

But as we know, the great ship did not make it to New York. The ship hit an iceberg and sank, and the cargo was forever lost. The people of Mexico, who were crazy about mayonnaise, and were eagerly awaiting its delivery, were disconsolate at the loss. Their anguish was so great, that they declared a National Day of Mourning, which they still observe to this day.

The National Day of Mourning occurs each year on May 5th and is known, of course, as Sinko De Mayo.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Remembering My Moms


Remembering my moms on Mother's Day...

Kathleen Hazel McLellen Masterson

My mom was, in many ways, a wounded bird.  She suffered from terrible health problems all of her life.  But she was one of the kindest, gentlest, most loving souls there could ever be.  There was never a day when I wasn't secure in her love.



On her wedding day, age 15.  She and my Dad were together almost 65 years.


She took great pleasure in anything that made any of us happy.  I loved her laughter.



It's been five years since she left us.  I miss her every day.



Eleanora Lasota Leszczuk

Few wives are lucky enough to get a mum-in-law like mine.  Mama was a woman of great courage who survived the forced labor camps in Nazi Germany, years in refugee camps, and imigrating to this country with practically nothing but never lost her faith or her kindness. 



She became a US citizen at the age of 80.


She loved to play cards and I loved it when she played with all the guys in the family and "cleaned their clocks".


This is our first Mother's Day without Mama.  It's going to feel terribly empty.

I've been incredibly fortunate to have had these two beautiful ladies in my life. 

 
Happy Mother's Day, Mom
Happy Mother's Day, Mama
I love you.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Serious Questions from a Hazy Mind

Still fuzzed up with pain killers (and other assorted happy drugs) and trying to type and mouse with my left hand so in lieu of a regular post I offer these...

Why doesn't Tarzan have a beard when he lives in the jungle without a razor?

Why do Kamikaze pilots wear helmets?

Why does someone believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but check when you say the paint is wet?

What is the speed of darkness?

If the temperature is zero outside today and it's going to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold will it be?

Why do people pay to go up tall buildings and then put money in binoculars to look at things on the ground?

Why is there a light in the fridge and not in the freezer?

If corn oil is made from corn, and vegetable oil is made from vegetables, then what is baby oil made from?

Why do the Alphabet song and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star have the same tune?

Stop singing and read on......

Did you ever notice that when you blow in a dog's face, he gets mad at you, but when you take him on a car ride, he sticks his head out the window?

Why do people point to their wrist when asking for the time, but don't point to their bum when they ask where the bathroom is?

(Does the fact that I laughed at the last one mean I'm taking too many drugs?)

That's it.  I'm done.

Monday, May 2, 2011

One Word at a Time - All I can manage

pinched
nerve
cervical
pain
back
zingers
arm
numb
doctor
x-rays
drugs
good
fuzzy
blogless
sorry
hopeful
Wednesday
bye

Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun - No Work This Week

Friday fun and total relaxation day. No work for you this week. Here's a few pictures for you to enjoy with the captions aready provided.
















 


Did you have a favorite?

Any plans for the weekend? 

My thoughts and prayers go out to all those touched by the devastating storms that struck so many communities this week.

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Murder on the Mind by L.L. Bartlett (Mugged my grandson to get my Nook back.)

Groaner of the Day: This English landlady had a couple of struggling poets for tenants.

When the poor fellows got behind in their rent, and the landlady was unable to have them evicted. Instead, she decided to murder them.

She baked a large scone and put some poison in it, then invited the poets down for tea. She served each of the chaps a cup of tea and half the scone. The poison worked as advertised, but of course crime does not pay, and the awful woman was soon arrested.

Feigning innocence, she demanded to know with what she was being charged.

The police inspector replied: "Well, it seems, madam, that you have killed two bards with one scone!"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sub-genres - Now There's a Mystery

Like a lot of writers, I belong to several writing groups that maintain e-mail lists for exchanging information, questions, support, etc.  I have one that falls under the parent organization Sisters in Crime (mystery writers) and one whose mama-ship is Romance Writers of America - because sometimes it's a thin line between a "mystery with a strong romantic element" and a "romantic suspense".

The other day, a member of the mystery group posed a question about mystery sub-genres, asking for a list and some definitions.  Oddly enough, there wasn't the usual stream of responses.  In fact, there weren't any.  That struck my as odd.  In Romance, things seem clearer.  Pretty much every other chapter of RWA holds an annual writing contest and they all use the same sub categories:

Contemporary
Historical
Romantic Suspense
Paranormal/TimeTravel/Fantasy
Young Adult
Single Title

 
So what about mysteries?  I did a little online digging and came up with these (all were on at least three of the many lists I found):
 
Amateur Detective
Classic Whodunit
Comic (Bumbling Detective)
Cozy  
Courtroom Drama
Dark Thriller
Espionage
Forensic
Hard-boiled (noir)
Heists and Capers
Historical
Inverted (howdunit)
Locked Room
Medical
Paranormal/Supernatural
Police Procedural
Private Detective
Psychological Suspense
Romantic
Serials
Technothriller
Thriller
Woman/Child in Jeopardy

Wow.  That's quite a list.  And I imagine a lot of mysteries have elements of more than one category, right?  So what difference does it make?  Well, the problem comes when the author is trying to describe a book to an agent or an agent to a publisher or a publisher to a bookseller or a bookseller to a buyer.  They all have to answer one question, "What is it?" 

And the answer is supposed to fit someplace on that lovely list.

Oh.  Well, it's a Paranormal Private Detective Thriller with a Romantic Woman in Jeopardy.  Sort of.  I guess.

Think about some of your favorite mysteries.  Where would they fit on the list?  Would they fit somewhere on that list?  I'll bet you have some that do and others that need a description like the one in the paragraph above.  Can you share an example of a multi-sub-genre mystery you've enjoyed?

As a writer, do you try to write to a sub-genre/category?  As a reader, do you choose books based on that sort of label?

Note:  Follow up to my Monday post - as I write this, we're in the middle of another torrential downpour.  Still on target to break the record for the wettest April ever.

I'm currently enjoying: Murder on the Mind by L.L. Bartlett  (I could have finished this last night but my grandson started playing with my Nook, got caught up in the story, and wouldn't give it back to me.)

Groaner of the Day: A linguistics professor was lecturing to his class one day. "In English," he said, "a double negative forms a positive. In some languages though, such as Russian, a double negative is still a negative. However," he pointed out, "there is no language wherein a double positive can form a negative."

A voice from the back of the room piped up "Yeah, right."

Monday, April 25, 2011

Soggy Monday Moaning

 It's raining here.  Pouring.  Again.  Still.  Water races down the street in front of my house, spraying high as the cars splash through.  I expect to see boats launched on the flooded side streets.



The flash flood warning symbol has become a permanent fixture in the lower right corner of our TV screen.  At least three family members have had water problems at home - basement, windows, and/or roofs.  People in the area are starting to Google plans for an arc.




My poor dog sits with her legs crossed, trying to put off her next trip outside.  She's not big on dancing (or peeing) in the rain.




In fact, Gene Kelly would be loving this weather.  The rest of us - not so much. 

But this could be a good thing.  I'm still behind in all things writing (crit group, on line class, blogs, and my WIP) - maybe the rain will keep me at my computer and I can get something done.

So, how are things in your neck of the woods?


I'm currently enjoying:  Murder on the Mind by L.L. Bartlett

Groaner of the Day: A software engineer tests new programs by seeing if they're simple enough for his computer-challenged brother to use.

This is known as the "Brother-can-use paradigm".

(Bet you have to say this one out loud a couple times to get it.)

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hairball - A True Story

Something different for a Friday funny.  A true story...

My buddy Donna and I have always been each other’s pet sitters. I have dogs, she has cats. Usually, I get the better of the deal—cats are pretty easy. But last summer Donna informed me she was planning on boarding her cats.

“Why?”

“Well, you know Hazel is diabetic now,” Donna reminded me. “She has to have insulin shots twice a day. I can’t let you do that.”

Hmmm. Part of me wholeheartedly agreed. I wasn’t interested in wrestling with an angry cat twice a day for two weeks, fighting to stick her with a needle. But still, our own vacation was coming up the following month. I’d feel pretty scummy asking Donna to watch my dogs—who were a lot more trouble—if I hadn’t done the same for her cats.

“How hard is it? Does she fight getting the shots?” Stupid question. I fight getting shots.

“No. Not really. If I put out her food first, I can usually slip her the shot while she’s eating and she doesn’t seem to notice.”

Ah. A sneak attack. I’m pretty good at those.

So we agreed to give it a couple dry runs and, if they went well, the cats would stay home and I’d just add giving insulin shots to the twice a day feeding routine.

Actually, it was a piece of cake. For the first four days, I got the pre-loaded syringe out of the fridge, set out the little plate of canned cat food, and while Hazel was busy chowing down, I pulled up the scruff of her neck, eased in the needle, and pushed the plunger home. As promised, she never even noticed.

It was the morning of day five, usual routine. Food was down. Cats were eating. I had a bit of Hazel’s scruff between my finger and thumb, pushing the plunger home, when I realized something. The needle had passed through Hazel and was embedded in my thumb, where I was happily injecting myself with feline insulin. I pulled the needle out of both Hazel and myself and stood there.

Now what?

What do I do about Hazel? Did she get any of that insulin before the needle moved on from her to me? If I give her a second dose will it be too much? If I don’t, will she go into some kind of diabetic shock? Am I going to suddenly start meowing? And why does Donna always vacation up at that stupid lake where there are no phones and no cell coverage?

I made a couple emergency phone calls and—after some totally unnecessary laughter—was advised to skip the rest of Hazel’s morning shot and give her the usual dose in the evening. I also received two comments about my drinking so early in the morning and the information that I can’t get high off feline insulin so I’d have to try some other way.

So, all in all, no harm done. Hazel survived and I was able to dump my dog-watching duties on Donna the following month with a clear conscience.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel a hairball coming on.


Have a wonderful Easter.

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Groaner of the day: (After that story of mine, I'll make this a short one.)  I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. It's impossible to put down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stormy Weather

There have been lots of posts/comments the last few days about wild weather and my little corner of the world was no exception.  We've had high winds, heavy rain, some hail, several tornado warnings (one touched down on the other side of town) and lots of flooding.  Plus there was a lightning strike that hit close enough to give me tinglies I could still feel a half hour later.

Then there was another kind of storm.  Out of town family.  My sister-in-law, my niece, and my three grand-nieces, age 9, 5, and 2.  The girls are all adorable, of course, and it was wonderful to see everyone - but talking about whirlwinds...   Did I mention they are 9, 5, and 2?

My grandkids are older.  I'd forgotten.

So I'm trying to catch up on e-mail and blog reading/commenting. 

Did I miss anything?

I'm currently enjoying: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Groaner of the day: A lion tamer is walking a lion around downtown New York when he gets a call on his cell phone from the big cat's owner. The owner is on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, and wants the tamer to bring the lion up so it can see the city.

On the ride up in the elevator, the animal becomes frightened, and attacks the tamer, mauling him severely.  When they get off, the owner says to the tamer: "Boy, you look awful!"

The tamer replies: "I'll tell you one thing, chief, I'm not taking this lion down!"

Monday, April 18, 2011

Possibilities

Congratulations to Dru - winner of Friday's Caption Contest.  I've contacted Dru about her choice of prizes.  Thanks to all who commented and/or left captions.

I had a bit of a downer a couple days ago.  Received a rejection on a short story I'd submitted to a national magazine.  It wasn't the rejection that stung so much as the timing.  The submission guidelines gave a three month turn-around time on responses.  Mine took less than two weeks.  Evidently, the first person to read it gave it a thumbs down and immediately hit the 'send rejection' button (one of the drawbacks of electronic submissions).

Of course, I knew the odds of getting accepted were small. I really did. But I still hoped.  Anything's possible, after all.  That's when I realized it wasn't just the rejection that brought me down, it was the loss of possibilities.  When writers drop a submission in the mail or hit the send button, we enter that beautiful world of possibilities.  We could get form rejection.  Or it could be something else.  A request to see more.  A suggestion to change this or that and re-submit.  Even a "We can't use this but we like your writing.  Send more."  Or - joy of joys - "We love this."  Alleluia!  All these possibilities floating around the back of our minds, to dream about, to hope for.  A beautiful place to be.

Until that form rejection letter arrives.

I was looking forward to having three months of possibilites.   Two weeks wasn't  nearly enough time.

* sigh *

How about you?  Do you love living in the world of possibilities or would you rather know about things right away, good news or bad?

Best wishes to my Jewish friends on the beginning of Passover.  May your celebration be a joyous one.

I'm currently enjoying: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Groaner of the day: There was this guy who supported his local Little League team by making the bats for them in his woodshop. On game days, he would place the bats under a hedge near the street, and someone from the team would pick them up on the way to the ballpark.

One day, some Japanese children came to the guy's door, and asked if they might play in his yard they even offered him a Japanese dollar if he would come out and play with them. The guy agreed and joined them. He was having so much fun romping and cavorting with the children, that he completely forgot there was a game that day, didn't get the bats out, and the team had to forfeit.

The moral of the story is that if you ever get a yen to gambol, be sure to hedge your bats.

(Oh my Lord, that's awful.)
   

Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday - Caption Contest Day!!

TGIF!  I hope everyone is looking forward to a great weekend.  Mother Nature is teasing us with spring weather here.  Still nippy outside but the tulips, the forsythia and all the flowering trees are in full bloom - beautiful color everywhere.

And it's time for my bi-weekly Caption Contest.  I've got some great pictures for you to caption this week.  Do one or all.  Don't forget to include your e-mail address in your comment to be included in this week's drawing for a free book (winner's choice from assorted titles).  Here are the pictures.  Have fun.

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.


Okay, what did you come up with?

Got any plans for the weekend?

Don't forget that Small Tales - the cross-genre short story anthology - is accepting submissions until May 31.  We've love to receive one from you.


I'm currently enjoying: Black Water Rising by Attica Locke

Groaner of the day: The teacher asked if anyone could tell the class a story with a moral. Little Johnny volunteered the following:

"Out west, in the town of Diablo, there was a guy named Dan, who was president of the Creative Credit Loan Company. Dan was proud of being able to arrange loans for almost anyone. One day as he was locking up for the night, some tough guys accosted him and started to push him around because he was just a little guy.  They didn't know he held a Third Degree Black Belt in Karate. Dan counterattacked, and gave the tough guys a thrashing they wouldn't forget."

Said the teacher, "Good, Johnny, now tell us what is the moral of your story."

Johnny replied, "Well, the moral is, if you're ever out west, don't mess around with the loan arranger."

(Hi-O-Silver. Away!)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Today I'm just rambling, thinking about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good 

A good book...  I blew off my entire day's do-list yesterday and read ONE WAS A SOLDIER by Julia Spencer-Fleming.  Wasn't planning to do that - the story was just too good to put down.  Thank you, Julia.

My local writers' group meeting last night...  I got some really useful feedback on a scene from my WIP and got to read some good stuff from the other writers. 

The Bad

My do-list...  How have I gotten so far behind?  I owe critques to my crit group, need to read submissions for the Small Tales project, my e-mail inbox runneth over, my folder of blogs I want to go back and read is bursting at the seams, I have homework to do in two online classes, and my WIP is filing charges for abandonment. (Not to mention I'm writing my Wednesday morning blog post at 3:00 on Wednesday afternoon.)

My local writers' group meeting last night...  We had a couple newer members who didn't quite grasp the concept of constructive criticism and one new writer whose work was so riddled with errors  (although the premise was intriguing) it was almost painful to read, and who explained she never worries about grammar and such, she'll let her editor take care of all that. 

The Ugly

Watching someone you love getting old...  I took my dear Brandi to the park across the street this morning.  It used to be a challenge to keep her home. She was a talented escape artist who loved to get free and run for miles.  Now I don't even need her leash.  She totters a short way, sniffing here and peeing there, then tires and turns for home. 




The start of the baseball season...  My beloved Red Sox stumbled coming out of the gate this year and look like that old lady from the TV commercial, "Help. I've fallen and I can't get up."



Anything good, bad, or ugly going on in your world ?

I'm currently enjoying: Just finished One Was a Soldier by Julie Spencer-Fleming

Groaner of the day: Don't join dangerous cults: Practice safe sects!