Friday, October 29, 2010

Fun Friday

In honour of this Sunday, here's a few great jack o lantern images I found on the net. Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Here's a few inspired by movies...

Oooh, love it, I do! (I actually can do a great Yoda voice)

This is phenomenal.

The Death Star...

Heeeeere's Johnny!

I love my Mac...

And a few for all you dog-lovers out there...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thirties Thursday

Hats. Today, they are something we might consider wearing for a formal occasion, or to keep the sun off our heads. Back in the 1930s, however, no one would go anywhere without a hat. It simply wasn't done.

Here's a popular style from 1930.
And a variety of the decade's styles.

Most hats were small and off the face.

Hats were de rigueur for men as well.

And look at the 1930s prices!

If you were in business, this could have been your hat.

And by the way, ladies, gloves were always worn as well. It was a far more formal time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010



For some, it's this...

or this...

For many, it's having to do this...

Or getting a too-close acquaintanceship with this...
(Little Miss Muffet knew what she was doing)

For some, it's this...

or eradicating this...

But, for many writers....

It's this.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Myths and Realities

MYTH: Writers spend their days in damp garrets scratching away on yellowed paper with an old pen whilst a cold wind swirls about their feet and a small fire sputters in a dented wood stove.

REALITY: This is not 1800. Most writers write on computers. I cannot comment on whether or not there is a small sputtering fire.

MYTH: If you write out characters' biographies, you'll know exactly how they'd react in every situation.

REALITY: You never know. You might guess, but you'll always be surprised. It might be a good surprise. It might not.

MYTH: Writing is easy.

REALITY: Writing is work.

MYTH: Writers wait for inspiration and once it's struck, work away in a frenzy of creativity until they've finished their manuscript.

REALITY: Writing takes discipline. Boat-loads of discipline.

MYTH: Writers are pompous creatures who are convinced each word they write is touched with genius.

REALITY: Writers are haunted by their self-editors; that strident voice that hisses in your brain "This is so bad you need a new word for bad. Can't think of one? I'm so glad you're a writer."

MYTH: All writers love writing.

REALITY: On a good day; yes. If you're having a bad day, cleaning the refrigerator with a toothbrush will strike you as a better use of your time.

MYTH: All writers drink.

REALITY: No comment.

Monday, October 25, 2010


I learned a long time ago that I am a writer who cannot write without pre-planning. Dull, but true. Without an outline, I tend to write in circles or spend long periods staring at the screen imploring it "But what happens next?" I don't outline every single thing but before I start in on that first draft I will know:

All the main characters' ages, habits and prejudices. I also know everyone's motives. (remember, I write mysteries)

I know who gets along and who doesn't.

I know who died.

I know who did it.

I know why they did it.

I know the setting.

I write an order of occurrences. This stops me from making major timeline errors.

This master list gets broken down into smaller lists - it's almost a running sequence of scenes.

Of course, things get moved around. Characters grow and reveal sides of themselves I had no idea existed. But those outlines keep me sane. Or relatively so. There are days when I'll take all the help I can get.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fun Friday

Some interesting folk have birthdays in October; take a wee peek at the list below!

Have a great weekend, everyone.

  1. Jimmy Carter, Julie Andrews, Mark McGwire
  2. Sting, Groucho Marx
  3. Dave Winfield, Chubby Checker, Dennis Eckersley
  4. Tony LaRussa, Alicia Silverstone, Susan Sarandon
  5. Grant Hill, Mario Lemieux, Karen Allen
  6. Rebecca Lobo, Britt Ekland, Desmond Tutu
  7. John Cougar Mellencamp, Bishop Desmond Tutu
  8. Jesse Jackson, Chevy Chase, Sigourney Weaver
  9. John Lennon, Jackson Browne
  10. David Lee Roth, Dave DeBusschere
  11. Steve Young, Luke Perry, Eleanor Roosevelt
  12. Luciano Pavarotti, Kirk Cameron
  13. Jerry Rice, Paul Simon, Margaret Thatcher
  14. Dwight Eisenhower, Roger Moore, Ralph Lauren
  15. Jim Palmer, Lee Iacocca
  16. Juan Gonzalez, Angela Lansbury, Oscar Wilde
  17. Evel Knievel, Arthur Miller, George Wendt
  18. Martina Navratilova, Mike Ditka, Jean-Claude Van Damme
  19. John Lithgow
  20. Tom Petty, Mickey Mantle
  21. Carrie Fisher, Dizzy Gillespe
  22. Jeff Goldblum, Tony Roberts, Christopher Lloyd
  23. Michael Crichton, Johnny Carson, Pele
  24. Kevin Kline
  25. Pablo Picasso, Georges Bizet
  26. Hillary Rodham Clinton, Pat Sajack
  27. Dylan Thomas, Theodore Roosevelt, Emily Post
  28. Bill Gates, Julia Roberts
  29. Winona Ryder, Richard Dreyfuss, Denis Potvin
  30. Grace Slick, John Adams, Louis Malle
  31. Dan Rather, Jane Pauley

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Thirties Thursday

Welcome to the inaugural post of my new feature "Thirties Thursday".
I'm starting off with a recipe which had its origins in the '30s:
Ritz Mock Apple Pie


Pastry for 2-crust 9-inch pie
36 RITZ Crackers, coarsely broken (about 1-3/4 cups crumbs)
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. cream of tartar
Grated peel of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

PREHEAT oven to 425°F. Roll out half of the pastry and place in 9-inch pie plate. Place cracker crumbs in crust; set aside.

MIX sugar and cream of tartar in medium saucepan. Gradually stir in 1-3/4 cups water until well blended. Bring to boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer 15 minutes. Add lemon peel and juice; cool. Pour syrup over cracker crumbs. Dot with butter; sprinkle with cinnamon. Roll out remaining pastry; place over pie. Trim; seal and flute edges. Slit top crust to allow steam to escape.

BAKE 30 to 35 minutes or until crust is crisp and golden. Cool completely.

10 servings

Prep time: 45 minutes

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Picturing A Mystery

Every writer starts with this...

But if you write mysteries, you'll be dealing with this...

Of course, you have to have your this...

and your this...

And then, there's your this...

But he could look like this...

or even this...

And although the dreadful deed could be committed in a place like this...

It could also take place in a place like this...

After all, we all want our readers to do this...
NOT this...

Oh...and don't forget to add this...

Just kidding.
Or, am I?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Some of THOSE days...

There are good days. Days that at the end of which, you can close your eyes and lay your head on your pillow and wrap a feeling of accomplishment around you like a warm quilt.

And then there are the days when...

Just as you were starting to write, your pets decide it's the perfect time for their reenactment of the beach landings on D-Day.

It's the day the fridge gets its long-overdue clean-out. However, opening one of the mysterious containers that has lurked in the back for who-knows-how-long (note: don't try to figure out how long it's been there; the answer is never good), the gooey substance you discover sparks an idea for an incident in your current writing project. You hie yourself to the computer and begin to write. Time passes. Time really passes. As you come back into the kitchen for a glass of water, you see the open refrigerator door and the puddle on your kitchen table that used to be a carton of ice cream and sated expressions on your cats' faces.

One of your cats climbs on top of your desk and gazes at you. You try to ignore it and type on, but the unblinking stare becomes hypnotic. You start to wonder if the cat is trying to send you a message. Has he sensed in some strange cat-way that your writing is really bad? Really good? Or, is he trying to tell you his food dish needs filling?

You look down or up on your way to the computer. This is a fatal error. You discover cobwebs in the corners and a carpet which desperately needs to be vacuumed. If you're me, your next question is: "Will anyone other than who lives here see this?"

You've just reread the climax of your story and it has left you flat. You decide what it needs is a dragon and (for fun) rewrite the portion with a dragon in the mix. This writing sings. As you hold your head in your hands you can almost swear you hear your cat laughing.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Again and Again and Again.


It happens all the time. We tell a story to our friends only to realize (probably as we're just reaching the end) that we've told this story to this same group of people before. It may be a good story, but no one needs to hear it over and over and over again.

I come upon this every time I go through first drafts - whether it's of a novel or a game. I've given the same clue more than once. Sometimes, it's way more than once. What's amusing is oftentimes it's not even that vital a clue - just something that stuck in my head.

But repetition sneaks onto our pages in many guises. I've found I have love affairs with certain words as I'm writing that first draft. This is when the 'search and replace' function gets used. Thank heaven for word-processing functions!

Another mask repetition wears is when you discover your characters tending to react to situations in the same way. There can be a surplus of eyes widening or shoulders shrugging or throat clearing. High nervous laughter can also litter your pages. Be aware. I've found knowing my characters can help avoid this pitfall - if I think about one characters and how he/she would react in character, it's usually unique unto them.

How do you avoid repetition?

Friday, October 15, 2010

Fun Friday

Here are interesting facts to digest over the weekend. Happy pondering. See you Monday.

A rat can last longer without water than a camel.

The dot over the letter "i" is called a tittle.

A raisin dropped in a glass of fresh champagne will bounce up and
down continuously from the bottom of the glass to the top.

Chewing gum while peeling onions will keep you from crying.

The first CD pressed in the US was Bruce Springsteen's "Born in
the USA."

The original name for butterfly was flutterby.

Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander, the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar

If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Songs of Writing a Novel

"We've Only Just Begun"
It's the beginning of a new manuscript. Your head is bursting with ideas and you simply can't type fast enough. Anything is possible. You're filled with energy and purpose. And're smiling.

"I Will Always Love You"
You've discovered your characters and you love them all. They're all clean and shiny and even the bad ones have a special place in your heart.

"Do You Really Want to Hurt Me"
What happened to those cherished characters that but a few days ago had won your heart? Now they're quarreling and refusing to do what you're wanting them to do.

"Stuck in the Middle with You"
You're in the middle of your plot. Time isn't really standing still, it just feels like it. You're convinced your characters are dull and flat and your plot is tired. This is not a smiley time.

"The Long and Winding Road"
Yes, you're still in the middle. Middles are long. Keep plodding (or plotting) along. The road may wind, but every step (or word) gets you closer to the end. Just pray you're not walking (or writing) in a circle. It happens.

"Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"
You've finished your first draft. You swear you can hear birdsong and see a rainbow dipping down into your yard. It's a good time. Take a well-earned breath and break.

"Please Release Me"
You thought once you'd reached the end it was over? HA! Now you've got to edit. Don't try to guess how many times you'll go through that first draft - it's not a happy number.

"It's the End of the World as We Know It"
Yes, you're still editing. You're convinced this project will never be finished.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
You've put your manuscript in front of another pair of eyes - or several pairs. The ensuing comments will help cement your story. Yes, it means more revisions, but the end is in sight.

"It's Over"
It's done. Really, really done. Dance a jig. You've climbed Mount Everest. Demand a parade. And're smiling again.

"Here We Go Again"
You know what this is, don't you?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Writing Game

Some of us write about this...

while some write about this...

and if you're a mystery writer (like me) you write endless versions of this...

But really, we're all writing about this...

There are the days when you feel as if you're playing this...

or this...

and even the days you feel as if you're playing this...

But we all need to play this...

and make our characters play this...

and remember no one ever has this...

on this...
And trust that one day you'll be playing this...

Because you have created a this.