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

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Word Count - Zero

If you've been following my blog for a while, you know I've spent the last several months trying to pare down a 150,000 word masterpiece to a more acceptable/marketable 90,000-100,000 words, while re-writing the POV to remove all instances of the dreaded "omni" (which was pretty much every scene).  Well, there's editing and there's hacking and somewhere along the way I crossed the line.  So after a very good (if painful) critique and a lot of soul searching, I've decided to start over. 

In many ways, this is a good thing.  I've made some structural changes I think will improve the story.  I've stripped out a couple story lines and characters (saved for another time and place) which will make keeping the word count in line much easier.  And I think the POV will be a lot cleaner if I'm not trying to force the changes into already written scenes. Plus, I have the advantage of all the great tips and advice I've been picking up from everyone's blogs for the past six months.

Of course, it hurts a bit, too.  To go from working on your query letter to having nothing to query about is hard. It's discouraging.  It stinks.

But it's not the hardest part.  It's that Word Count.  Starting at zero.  I've got all my ideas in place.  I know my characters.  I know where they're going and where they'll be at the end (if not exactly how they're going to get there).  I've made bunches of notes. And I've opened up that brand new document - word count zero. 

And I've closed it again.

I guess I've been working on this puppy for so long I can't get past that blank screen.  It's just not happening.

Can you help me out here?  I think I need a nice blogger friends kick in the butt to get me started.  Brother (Sister), can you spare a boot?

My current word count: 0

I'm currently enjoying: Lion in the Valley by Elizabeth Peters

Groaner of the Day: It seems that an elephant got too close to all the baby ducks the circus had brought in for Easter, and accidentally inhaled a bunch of them. The poor elephant was choking on them and no one could help. (Ever tried doing the Heimlich on a pachyderm?) Finally the trainer goosed him -- and the elephant blew out a whole trunk full of downy feathers.

Yep! That's what he gets for snorting quack.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life and Death on a Snow Covered Deck

From where I sat, reading and wallowing in my flu-induced misery, I couldn't see any of the half-dozen bird feeders that are scattered across my backyard; I could only hear the conversations of the diners. It's a sound I particularly enjoy.

Then a sound I don't enjoy.  The soft thud of a bird flying into glass.  No matter how I mark the doors and windows with clingies and suncatchers, some of my small guests will still try to fly through them.

This one had hit the glass door to the deck.  I had only to look up to see it.  A little sparrow.  Female, based on subtle markings. Stunned, she hopped twice and tried to fly but landed back in the soft snow barely a foot away.  I sat watching, silently urging her to try again.  Two others like her appeared and perched on the railing nearby.  It seemed as though they were watching as well, and urging their companion to join them.  One moved closer, to the snow covered table, but neither ventured down to the deck where the injured one sat. 

I debated with myself, wanting to help, knowing there was little I had to offer.  Time passed.  Her friends flew away and returned several times, but never closer than they had before.  Then, as I watched, she seemed to settled into herself, head sinking down into her feathers, and became very still.  My eyes filled and I felt silly - it was just a small wild bird after all.  I forced myself to think of more practical things, such as going out and picking her up before I let Brandi outside lest my ancient hunter claim the feathered prize and bring it in to me.  

But Brandi was sleeping and there was no hurry.  With a sad sigh, I returned to my book. A bit later, distracted from the story by my need for more tissues, I looked outside.  She was gone.  Wasn't she?  Isn't that the spot where she had been? 

I got up and walked to the door, searching the deck.  She was gone.  And there were no tracks in the snow near where she had been.  I ran through all the possibilities and decided I was safe in my celebration.  She hadn't died.  Stunned from the blow, as they often are, she had rested, recovered, and flown away.  I felt ridiculously, all out of proportion, happy.

Must have been all those cold meds.

Anyone else have an unexpected happy moment latey?

I'm currently reading: Blood Lure by Nevada Barr

Groaner of the Day: (for my good friend in Texas)

When Hugh Hefner had his Playboy mansion, there were a succession of Bunnies that he became involved with. It was a custom for each Bunny to present him with a necktie. Eventually, he had hundreds of them in his closet. When he finally married Kimberly Conrad, she became upset to see all those souveniers from former girlfriends. In a fit of pique, she grabbed them all and threw them at her new husband, which lead to the famous song, "The ties of exes are upon Hugh."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Attitude is Everything

As I stumble around the house, feverishly clutching my last box of Puffs Plus, and trying to breathe through my left ear (the only orifice in my head that is not completely closed), I realize I am not up to writing a post today, nor am I willing to fail on my New Year's goal of posting every M-W-F.  Certainly not in the first month of the year.

So I offer this.  It came to me in an e-mail with some lovely black and white pictures of flowers but blogger doesn't want to upload the pictures and I don't have the energy to fight it.  Even without the pictures - I think the sentiment is worth sharing.


There once was a woman who woke up one morning, looked in the mirror, and noticed she had only three hairs on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'I think I'll braid my hair today.'

So she did and she had a wonderful day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and saw that she had only two hairs on her head.

'Hmmm,' she said, 'I think I'll part my hair down the middle today.'

So she did and she had a grand day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that she had only one hair on her head.

'Well,' she said, 'today I'm going to wear my hair in a pony tail.'

So she did, and she had a fun, fun day.

The next day she woke up, looked in the mirror and noticed that there wasn't a single hair on her

'YAY!' she exclaimed. 'I don't have to fix my hair today!'

Attitude is everything.

No groaner today.  (And there was rejoicing throughout the land.)

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Have a Winner

Congratuations to Melanie, the winner of the Talk Radio Mysteries giveaway.  Melanie has been notified by e-mail and just needs to send me her mailing address to received her signed copies of REEL MURDER and STAY TUNED FOR MURDER by award winning author Mary Kennedy.

For those of you who weren't lucky enough to win this contest, get thee to a book store (or go online) and get your own copies of this great series.

This will be a short post today because I've been laid low by some nasty bug and can't seem to type between all the hacking and wheezing.

I'm Currently Reading: GABRIEL'S GHOST by Linnea Sinclair

Groaner of the Day: A member of the high school science club learned hypnosis, and wanted to share his new skill with his friends, so he taught another member, and she taught another, and so on.

This became known as trancing geek to geek.

(Hey, I told you I was sick.)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Too Funny Not To Share

Friday means something funny and this certainly fits the bill.  This came to me on a much forwarded e-mail.  I don't know who the gentleman is or where the talent show was held but I laughed so hard I almost hurt myself.  This will probably appeal to those of you who, like me, are a little older but I think everyone will enjoy it.

Reminders:  There's still time to enter my giveaway for a chance to win STAY TUNED FOR MURDER and REEL MURDER, books two and three in the wonderful Talk Radio Mystery series by Mary Kennedy.  Just go back to my Wednesday post Welcome, Mary Kennedy, enjoy learning a little about Mary, and leave a comment.  Be sure to include your e-mail address if you want to be in the drawing.

And there is still time to enter Maria Zannini's fantastic contest for a chance to win a manuscript critique.  Don't miss out.

Groaner of the Day:  I saw a great delivery contract offer the other day.  A water-garden company wants a load of frogs delivered, but they have to be delivered in a special bog-like container designed to fit in the bed of a pickup truck. They'll pay in food, which is perfect for me.  For each load delivered, the company will provide one enormous home-baked casserole with a crust of middle-eastern flat bread.

That's right: a pita pie per pickup pack of puddled peepers.

(Aw, come on, Maria.  I gave a reminder on your contest.)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Welcome, Mary Kennedy

Today I welcome my friend, Mary Kennedy.  Mary is a best-selling author and a practicing clinical pyschologist. She has sold forty novels, all to big New York publishers, and has made the Waldenbooks, BookScan and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Mary also won an award from the National Endowment for the Arts for "artistic excellence in literary fiction. 

Mary's most recent book, STAY TUNED FOR MURDER, is the third in the Talk Radio Mystery series, following DEAD AIR (released January 2010) and REEL MURDER (June 2010).  The series heroine is
Maggie Walsh, a psychologist who closes up her Manhattan practice and heads to sunny Florida to take a job as a radio talk show host. And, yes, she solves a murder in every book!

A little about STAY TUNED FOR MURDER...

Maggie Walsh, Florida’s newest radio talk show psychologist, thinks that being tucked away in her studio will keep her safe from all the crazies. But when she hits the airwaves, there’s no telling whom she’s reaching–and who wants to reach back.

Maggie is a natural on the radio, but she’s still learning how to play the ratings game. Her big guest star is self-proclaimed oracle Madame Chantel, whose on-air “chats” with the dead are the talk of Cypress Grove–until Chantel makes some grim predictions at a seance and one of the town’s most beloved citizens is found murdered.

Meanwhile WYME is busy promoting the opening of a fifty-year old time capsule. But the more Maggie learns about what might be unearthed, the more she suspects that the timing of the murder was no coincidence. The appearance of another body has Maggie rushing to find the killer–and wondering if there might be something to Chantel’s ghost stories.

Now a couple questions for Mary...

Mary, I know that you and Maggie are both psychologists and you both have experience working in radio but beyond that, how much of Mary Kennedy is there in Maggie Walsh?

Maggie and I are both psychologists, except she decided to be a radio talk show host in sunny Florida, and I'm in private practice here in the northeast. She does seem to have a knack for meeting interesting people and being open to new experiences and I'd like to think that we have that in common. In some ways, Maggie is living my fantasy life, because I think it would be terrific to have a radio talk show. And I really do love Florida.

In addition to your clinical practice and your writing, you are also involved in a number of worthy causes such as animal protection. Could you share a little about your work in that area?

I've been involved in animal welfare for a long time. Not just companion animals, although I do have 8 cats, but all animals. I belong to most of the major animal welfare groups, and I also find it helpful to contribute to grassroots groups that don't get a lot of press. For example, I donate all my speaking fees to Michael Budkie of SAEN (Save Animals from Exploitation Now). He works tirelessly to expose the cruel treatment of lab animals and he does it on a very limited budget. He's devoted his life to this cause. 

I also speak out against "institutionalized" violence against animals whenever I can, rodeos, bull-riding, bullfighting, circuses, greyhound racing etc. Animals used for entertainment lead miserable lives. It's hard to believe--and rather discouraging--to think that people ignore the suffering involved in these so-called "sports." And I'm very involved with cat rescue and trap-neuter-release programs.

 Thanks, Mary, for sharing and for being here today.  I loved all three of the Talk Radio Mysteries and hope Maggie returns for a fourth.

Now, the great news: Mary has not only generously offered a copy of STAY TURNED FOR MURDER for me to give away, she's adding a special bonus, a copy of the second Talk Radio Mystery, REEL MURDER. To be eligible, just leave your e-mail address in a comment.  If you already have a copy of REEL MURDER, please let me know and I'll give someone else a chance.  The winner will be announced on Monday morning.

Groaner of the Day: Undertakers Mal and Mel were storing embalming fluid. It was considered appropriate to place it in an area out of sight. Mel had his share stored promptly, but there was still a good portion left for Mal to take care of. When asked why he had not just stored it all, Mel said, "The rest is for Mal to hide."

Sunday, January 16, 2011

What Happened to Common Courtesy?

Last week on Lesa's Book Critiques, Lesa Holstine reviewed Whoopi Goldburg's new book Is It Just Me? Or Is It Nuts Out There? which deals with the lack of common courtesy and respect in our society. The review sparked a discussion on common courtesy and good manners (or the lack thereof) and I'd like to continue that discussion here today.

It has been said that one of the first signs of the decline of a society or civilization is the loss of common courtesy.  If that's true, we're in big trouble.  Now, I'll admit, I may have a different perspective on this than some of you because of my age.  I'm a little old gray haired grandmother, a card carrying senior citizen.  So I've seen a lot of changes in what constitutes good manners.  I remember when swearing in public was actually against the law.  I remember when children addressed adults as Mr. or Mrs. (etc.), when men's hats were removed indoors, when a younger person would yield their seat to an elder (I started to do this recently and realized the person I was offering my seat to was probably younger than I am - oops), and when everyone stood (gasp) when the American flag went by.

But what difference does it make?  Really.  Is anyone hurt if we all sit down to dinner in ball caps, probably worn backward?  If my neighbor's children called me Linda instead of Mrs. Leszczuk? If teenage girls want to walk through the mall using language that would make a sailor blush? What's the harm?

I think it has to do with where we draw the line.  For example, when I went to school, back in the dark ages, it was a punishable offense not to address our teachers as 'Sir' or 'Ma'am'.  So if a young man felt the need to show off, to show his disdain for school rules or his indifference to punishment, all he had to do was fail to use the proper form of address.  Bingo - he was a rebel.  A tough guy.  A hero to his peers.  But what about now?  With even the most basic levels of courtesy gone from our schools, with foul language the unofficially accepted norm, if that young man wants to make his point, what are his options?  Vandalism? Physical violence?

The problem is if we set the line of what's acceptable too far out there, or if we set the bar so low, we have no buffer.  If we've already abandoned all forms common courtesy, what goes next? 

What do you think?

Special guest alert! Don't miss my blog this Wednesday when I'll be hosting Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio mysteries. And holding my first giveaway!

And don't forget to enter Maria Zannini's great contest for a chance to win a free manuscript critique.

I'm currently enjoying: Liberty Falling by Nevada Barr

Groaner of the Day: A couple lived near the ocean and used to walk the beach a lot. One summer they noticed a girl who was at the beach pretty much every day. She wasn't unusual, nor was the travel bag she carried, except for one thing; she would approach people who were sitting on the beach, glance around furtively, then speak to them. Generally the people would respond negatively and she would wander off, but occasionally someone would nod and there would be a quick exchange of money for something she carried in her bag.

The couple assumed she was selling drugs and debated calling the cops, but since they didn't know for sure they just continued to watch her. After a couple of weeks, the wife said, "Honey, have you ever noticed that she only goes up to people with boom boxes and other electronic devices?" He hadn't, and said so.

Then she said "Tomorrow I want you to get a towel and our big radio and go lie out on the beach. Then we can find out what she's really doing." Well, the plan went off without a hitch and the wife was almost hopping up and down with anticipation when she saw the girl talk to her husband and then leave. The man walked up the beach and met his wife at the road. "Well? Is she selling drugs?" she asked, excitement pouring out with her voice.

"No, she's not." he said, enjoying this probably more than he should have.

"Well? What is it, then? What does she do?" his wife fairly shrieked.

The man grinned and said, "She's a battery salesperson."

"A battery salesperson?" cried the wife.

"Yes," he replied, "She sells 'C' cells by the sea shore."

(I'm sorry, Maria.)

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Honest Politician

For most of my life, there was only one King of Late Night TV and that was Johnny Carson.  No matter where we lived or what was going on in the world, the day always ended with the Johnny.  There will never be another like him.

Since it's Friday, and I like a little nonsense to wrap up the week, I'm sharing a clip I came across recently.  This is Johnny, the "honest" politician.  Enjoy.

Don't forget to enter Maria Zannini's great contest for a chance to win a free manuscript critique.

So...any plans for the weekend?

Special guest alert! Next Wednesday I'll be hosting my first guest, Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio mysteries, and my first contest. Don't miss it.

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook (been doing a lot of writing so not much reading)

Groaner of the Day: (I'll apologize for this one up front.)

It was a hot summer's day and Luke was in the marina having a few beers aboard his boat, patriotically named "The Fourth of July". He was waiting for his friend, Opie, to arrive so they could go for a cruise.

Opie was late, unfortunately, because he had to pick up his wife from her appointment with the obstetrician. Her examinations were cheap because the doctor, a fellow named Juan, was Opie's cousin. Anyway, the appointment went over time, and Opie was late getting to the marina.

Luke had been drinking all this time and was feeling no pain. When he saw Opie finally walking down the pier, he jumped up, staggered to the side of the boat to wave to his friend, and nearly fell in! Opie got there just in time to grab Luke.

Thus, it was that O.B. Juan's kin, Opie, saved Luke from falling to the dock side of The Fourth.

(Hey, I apologized, didn't I?)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Is There a Trick to This?

Well, the first thing I need to do this morning is tell everyone about the awesome contest going on over on Maria Zannini's blog.  You have a chance to win, not a free book (although we all love those) or other goodies (okay, we love those, too) but a free critique of your manuscript!

I probably shouldn't even mention this because I'm entering, too, but it was too good not to share.

Aren't blogs great?  But...  I'm having a lot of trouble figuring out how to keep "Following" from turning into a full time job.  I've got a growing list of blogs I Follow, partly because of the great information and discussions to be found and partly because I want people to Follow mine (quid pro quo?).  But there doesn't seem to be much point in Following a blog if I don't actually follow it. 

So I open Blogger in the morning and I start through my Reading List.  Whoa.  Sure are a lot of posts to read.  I've tried just scanning them and only reading the ones that really interest me, but since I only follow people I find interesting, that doesn't trim the list much.  I've also tried adding ones that are longer or that I want to mull over (i.e. good writing tips) to my bookmarks to come back to later.  But the bookmarked list is becoming unmanagable as well.  And then there's commenting...

There must be a better way.  I know many of you follow a lot more blogs than I do.  How do you do it?  Is there some trick to all this that I haven't picked up on yet.  Seriously, I need some advice here.

Special guest alert! Next Wednesday I'll be hosting my first guest, Mary Kennedy, author of the Talk Radio mysteries, and my first contest.  Don't miss it.

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook (been doing a lot of writing so not much reading)

Groaner of the Day: (Trust me.  You'll laugh.)
 Mary Poppins was traveling home, but due to worsening weather, she decided to stop at a hotel for the night. She approached the receptionist and asked for a room for the night.

"Certainly madam," he replied courteously.

"Is the restaurant open still?" inquired Mary.

"Sorry, no," came the reply, "but room service is available all night. Would you care to select something from this menu?"

Mary smiled and took the menu and perused it. "Hmm, I would like the cauliflower cheese please," said Mary.

"Certainly, madam," he replied.

"And can I have breakfast in bed?" asked Mary politely.

The receptionist nodded, "Of course."

"In that case, I would like two poached eggs, please," Mary mused.

After confirming the order, Mary signed in and went up to her room for the night.

The night passed uneventfully and the next morning Mary came down early to check out. The same man was still on the desk.

"Morning madam...sleep well?"

"Yes, thank you," Mary replied.

"Was our food to your liking?"

"Well, I have to say the cauliflower cheese was exceptional, I don't think I have had better. Shame about the eggs, though....they really weren't that nice at all," replied Mary truthfully.

"Oh...well, perhaps you could contribute these thoughts to our Guest Comments Book. We are always looking to improve our service and would value your opinion," said the receptionist.

"I will...thank you." replied Mary....who checked out, then wrote a short comment into the book. Waving, she left to continue her journey.

Curious, the receptionist picked up the book to see the comment Mary had written...

"Super cauliflower cheese, but eggs were quite atrocious!"

(Admit it, you laughed.)

Monday, January 10, 2011

Banished Words for 2011

Recently on Jane's Ride there was a great discussion on annoying words and phrases.  This weekend I came across this...

Each year Lake Superior State University releases a list of  banished words .  These words/phrases are to be banished from our collective vocabulary for being chronically overused and misused.  Here's the list for 2011 (with sample quotes from the LSSU web site).

viral - " is no longer enough to give such offerings their 15 minutes of fame, but they must be declared to 'go viral.'

epic - "Standards for using 'epic' are so low, even 'awesome' is embarrassed."

fail - "Fail is not a noun. It is not an adjective. It is a verb."  "...anything that is a mistake is a 'fail'."

wow factor - "Done-to-death phrase to point out something with a somewhat significantly appealing appearance."

a-ha moment - "...a point at which you understand something or something becomes clearer. Why can't you just say that?"

backstory - "This should be on the list of words that don't need to exist because a perfectly good word has been used for years. In this case, the word is 'history,' or, for those who must be weaned, 'story.'"

BFF - " each other BFF (Best Friends Forever) and it lasts about 10 minutes. Now there's BFFA (Best Friends For Awhile), which makes more sense."

man up - "A stupid phrase when directed at men. Even more stupid when directed at a woman..."

refudiate - "Adding this word to the English language simply because a part-time politician lacks a spell checker on her cell phone is an action that needs to be repudiated."

mamma grizzlies - "Unless you are referring to a scientific study of Ursus arctos horribilis , this analogy of right-wing female politicians should rest in peace."

the American people - Every political speech refers to the 'American' people as if simply saying 'Americans' (or 'people') is not enough." 

I'm just sayin' - "'A phrase used to diffuse any ill feelings caused by a preceded remark..."

Facebook/Google as verbs - "...the trend can only get worse, i.e. I'm going to Twitter a few people, then Yahoo the movie listings and maybe Amazon a book or two."

live life to the fullest - "It's an absurdity followed by a redundancy. First, things are full or they're not; there is no fullest. Second, 'live life' is redundant."

I had to cringe because I have an "A-Ha Moment" video link on my blog, but it was named by the people who made the video, not by me.  Some of these rang no bells for me.  I'm definitely guilty of using Google as a verb (aren't we all?).  And I believe "backstory" is a useful word, especially for writers.

How about you?  Any you agree with?  Disagree with?  Any you'd like to add?

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook

Groaner of the Day: (It's a bit long but you've got to read it.) 
The great German actress Zelda had done everything but for one thing; she'd never won an Academy Award. She was known for being terribly temperamental and choosy about her parts, but was also known to soften for the promise of the elusive award.

One day she was called by the great director, Meyer Schmidt, and asked to review a new script he had. She read the script and immediately rejected it. "Iss Nicht my type of script, Meyer, and I'll not do it."

"But Honeykins," he cried, "It's a wonderful script."

"I didn't say it vasn't vunderful or goot, but I'll not do it."

"But Sweetiekins," Meyer continued, "with my direction and your acting and name, it will make us millions."

"More geldt I don't need. Ich do nicht like the script."

"But, Darling, don't you see? With my connections, I can almost guarantee you an Academy Award with a good performance."

Zelda thought a moment then agreed, saying, "Oh, I'd luff to be an Oscar veener, Meyer!"

(I'm sorry. I can't help myself.)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Friday Nonsense

My local writers group met this week.  I hadn't written anything to share but the group leader send out a couple writing prompts and this one - "The blue hat in the closet" - gave me a nonsense attack.  Since it's Friday, I think I'll share my bit of nonsense with you.

The Blue Hat in My Closet

The blue hat in my closet
Has a red B on the front.
My dad wears one just like it,
As does my younger son.

We’re part of the Red Sox Nation,
The Fenway Faithful crowd.
We’re scattered ’cross the fifty states,
Our voices strong and proud.

Our long dry spell was legend.
Ev’rybody blamed the curse.
Eighty six years we came up short,
To the Yanks – which made it worse.

In twenty-oh-four it happened
For which we still give thanks.
The biggest choke in history
And it happened to the Yanks.

St Louis in the Series,
It turned into a rout.
A bounce back to the pitcher
Then to first base for the out.

I was watching it on TV,
My Dad was on the phone.
My cell pressed to my other ear
From my younger son at home.

The blue hat in my closet
Has a B above the bill.
But my older son’s a Reds fan.
I’ve cut him from my Will.

Any Sox fans out there?

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr by Thomas H. Cook

Quote of the Day: (I know it's not my usual Groaner but I've got a theme going here.) 
The golf swing is among the most stressful and unnatural acts in sports, short of cheering for the Yankees. - Brad Faxon  

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why Should I Care

I was helping my grandson yesterday organize his notes for a school report on the Battle of Gettysburg. He had gathered lots of facts and was trying to figure out how to put them together. I offered him a series of questions and suggested he put the questions in an order that worked for him then replace each question with an answer from his notes.

He was expecting the usual what, where, when, etc., but he was caught by the question, “Why should we care?” To him, the answer was simple…because it was a school paper and he wanted a good grade.

Yes, but why do we care about this battle?

Well, it’s a really famous battle. Everyone knows about it.

In fiction, we rarely have the luxury of a famous topic that everyone already knows is important. In an established series there may be vested interest in the main characters, but more often readers start a story not knowing why they should care…which translates into “why should I keep reading?”

Mysteries have at least two possibilities – the puzzle and characters. For some mystery lovers, the puzzle itself may be enough. Like playing a good game of Clue, puzzle lovers read mysteries for the sheer joy of staying in step with or even beating the story’s sleuth to the correct solution. The characters are merely a vehicle for delivering the clues.

For others, and I fall into this group, it’s all about the characters. Once I become caught up in a character, I'm hooked.  I have to keep reading, even if the story/puzzle is a little weak or slow.  I just have to find out what happens to that character (or even better, those characters).

This takes us back to my grandson’s paper. After mulling over the questions I’d given him, he placed “Why should we care?” at the top – right after his introduction.

I think he gets it.

I'm currently enjoying: The Fate of Katherine Carr

Groaner of the Day: The Frugal Gourmet recently visited to Europe. He had a delightful time sampling the cusine in Italy, France and Germany , but he made the mistake of stopping off in London on the way home. Needless to say, he found English food bland and overcooked. However, one day he had a great meal of fish & chips at a London pub. He asked the manager of the pub if he could have the recipe for the fish and chips. The manager confessed that he bought his fish and chips from a nearby monestary, and thus the Frugal Gourmet would have to get the recipe from one of the Brothers. The Frugal Gourmet quickly ran down the street to the monestary and knocked on the door. When one of the Brothers came to the door, the Frugal Gourmet asked him if he were the "Fish Friar."

The brother repiled, "No, I'm the Chip Monk."

Monday, January 3, 2011

The First Day of What?!?

For anyone new to my blog, I retired last month. And I launched directly into the frenzy of getting ready for the holidays.  When anyone asked what it felt like to be retired, I told them it really wouldn't kick in until after New Years.  That first Monday, when I would normally go back to work and life would return to normal.

It's Monday.

I've been a writer as far back as I can remember, but always sporatically.  I made a reasonably serious attempt to get published twice - I have the required folder full of rejection letters - and got as far as being signed by an agent once.  But whenever I got discouraged, I simply turned back to the job. It was the prefect excuse.  I just told myself it was too hard to get published while juggling a demanding job and my family and my writing. (Yes, I know many published authors have done it but the line worked for me.) Of course, this rationale had the unspoken tag - if only I could write full time.

It's Monday.

And I can write full time.

No more excuses.  No job to hide behind.  Here's where I find out if I've got what it takes or not.  The first day of my new full time career.

Whoa.  This is scary.

I'm currently enjoying: Blind Descent by Nevada Barr

Groaner of the Day: An infant rabbit was orphaned. Fortunately though, a family of squirrels took it in and raised it as if it were one of their own. This adoption led to some peculiar behaviors on the part of the rabbit, including a tendency for it to eschew jumping, but rather to embrace running around like its step-siblings.

As the rabbit passed through puberty, however, it soon faced an identity crisis (don't we all!). It went to its step-parents to discuss the problem. It allowed as to how it felt different from its step-siblings, was unsure of its place in the universe, and was generally forlorn. Their response was, ... "Don't scurry, be hoppy."