Friday, April 30, 2010

Fun Friday

I found this gem this week - enjoy all. See you Monday. I apologize for my absence from visiting your blogs yesterday and today - I'm flat on my back with a bad back. I'm appreciating the irony, but not the inactivity.

Stay well.

Abbot and Costello: Computer Shopping

ABBOT: Ultimate Super Duper Computer Store. Can I help you?

COSTELLO: Thanks. I'm setting up a home office in the den, and I'm thinking of buying a computer.


COSTELLO: No, the name is Bud.

ABBOT: Your computer?

COSTELLO: I don't own a computer. I want to buy one.


COSTELLO: I told you, my name is Bud.

ABBOT: What about Windows?

COSTELLO: Why? Does it get stuffy?

ABBOT: Do you want a computer with Windows?

COSTELLO: I don't know. What do I see when I look out the windows?

ABBOT: Wallpaper.

COSTELLO: Never mind the windows. I need a computer and software.

ABBOT: Software that runs on Windows?

COSTELLO: No, on the computer! I need something I can use to write proposals, track expenses. You know, run a business. What have you got?

ABBOT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yeah, for my office. Can you recommend anything?

ABBOT: I just did.

COSTELLO: You just did what?

ABBOT: Recommended something.

COSTELLO: You recommended something?


COSTELLO: For my office?


COSTELLO: Okay, what did you recommend for my office?

ABBOT: Office.

COSTELLO: Yes, for my office.

ABBOT: Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: I already have an office and it already has windows! Let's say I'm sitting at my computer, and I want to type a proposal. What do I need?

ABBOT: Word.

COSTELLO: If I'm writing a proposal, I'm going to need lots of words. But what program do I load?

ABBOT: Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOT: The Word in Office.

COSTELLO: The only word in office is office.

ABBOT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: Which word in "office for windows?"

ABBOT: The Word you get when you click the blue W.

COSTELLO: I'm going to click your big W if you don't give me a straight answer. Let's forget about words for a minute. What do I need if I want to watch a movie over the Internet?

ABBOT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: Maybe a real movie, maybe a cartoon. What I watch is none of your business. But what do I need to watch it?

ABBOT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: If it's a long movie I'll also want to watch reels two, three and four. Can I watch reel four?

ABBOT: Of course.

COSTELLO: Great! With what?

ABBOT: RealOne.

COSTELLO: Okay, so I'm sitting at my computer and I want to watch a movie. What do I do?

ABBOT: You click the blue 1.

COSTELLO: I click the blue one what?

ABBOT: The blue 1.

COSTELLO: Is that different from the blue W?

ABBOT: Of course it is. The blue 1 is Real One. The blue W is Word.

COSTELLO: What word?

ABBOT: The Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there's three words in "office for windows!"

ABBOT: No, just one. But it's the most popular Word in the world.


ABBOT: Yes, although to be fair there aren't many other Words left. It pretty much wiped out all the other Words.

COSTELLO: And that word is the real one?

ABBOT: No. Real One has nothing to do with Word. Real One isn't even part of Office.

COSTELLO: Never mind; I don't want to get started with that again. But I also need something for bank accounts, loans, and so on. What do you have to help me track my money?

ABBOT: Money.

COSTELLO: That's right. What do you have?

ABBOT: Money.

COSTELLO: I need money to track my money?

ABBOT: No, not really. It comes bundled with your computer.

COSTELLO: What comes bundled with my computer?

ABBOT: Money.

COSTELLO: Money comes bundled with my computer?

ABBOT: Exactly. No extra charge.

COSTELLO: I get a bundle of money with my computer at no extra charge? How much money do I get?

ABBOT: Just one copy.

COSTELLO: I get a copy of money. Isn't that illegal?

ABBOT: No. We have a license from Microsoft to make copies of Money.

COSTELLO: Microsoft can license you to make money?

ABBOT: Why not? They own it.

COSTELLO: Well, it's great that I'm going to get free money, but I'll still need to track it. Do you have anything for managing your money?

ABBOT: Managing Your Money? That program disappeared years ago.

COSTELLO: Well, what do you sell in its place?

ABBOT: Money.

COSTELLO: You sell money?

ABBOT: Of course. But if you buy a computer from us, you get it for free.

COSTELLO: That's all very wonderful, but I'll be running a business. Do you have any software for, you know, accounting?

ABBOT: Simply Accounting.

COSTELLO: Probably, but it might get a little complicated.

ABBOT: If you don't want Simply Accounting, you might try M.Y.O.B.

COSTELLO: M.Y.O.B.? What does that stand for?

ABBOT: Mind Your Own Business.

COSTELLO: I beg your pardon?

ABBOT: No, that would be I.B.Y.P. I said M.Y.O.B.

COSTELLO: Look, I just need to do some accounting for my home business. You know--accounting? You do it with money.

ABBOT: Of course you can do accounting with Money. But you may need more.

COSTELLO: More money?

ABBOT: More than Money. Money can't do everything.

COSTELLO: I don't need a sermon! Okay, let's forget about money for the moment. I'm worried that my computer might... what's the word? Crash. And if my computer crashes, what can I use to restore my data?

ABBOT: Go Back.

COSTELLO: Okay. I'm worried about my computer smashing and I need something to restore my data. What do you recommend?

ABBOT: Go Back.

COSTELLO: How many times do I have to repeat myself?

ABBOT: I've never asked you to repeat yourself. All I said was Go Back.

COSTELLO: How can I go back if I haven't even been anywhere? Okay, I'll go back. What do I need to write a proposal?

ABBOT: Word.

COSTELLO: But I'll need lots of words to write a proposal.

ABBOT: No, you only need one Word-the Word in Office for Windows.

COSTELLO: But there's three words in ... Oh, never mind.

ABBOT: Hello? Hello? Customers! Why do they always hang up on me? Oh, well. Ultimate Super Duper Computer Store: Can I help you?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Once More, with Feeling

I'm rerunning a post from December today. Why? I'm not one of those organized blog writers who writes their posts hours (or days) in advance, I'm one of those 'stare at the screen until something comes to you' blog writers. Today, life is getting in the way of staring at the screen; hence this particular rerun. With luck, I'll be back tomorrow.

Malevolent Mud Makers

Observe the merry writer making her way down the forest path. Her pace is steady, her face wreathed with smiles. She has no idea she is being watched by a malevolent mud maker. But she is. They strike without warning. Without mercy. Slurp! Another writer stuck in the mud.

What is the mud? For me, mud is when I can't seem to move forward. Something is wrong. It could be a character. It could be a plot. It could be a combination of the two. Getting stuck means it's time to reevaluate and plan my way out; since the only other option is being stuck and never moving on. How do I accomplish this?

Characters: Every writer has to know their characters. You have to see the world through their eyes and feel their hearts quicken. You must walk in their shoes, have their memories and their expectations. You know their fondest desires and their deepest fears. Mud can occur when you've forgotten this and you've written your character incorrectly. It's easy to do, one can get so caught up in plot that characters become puppets instead of people. Go back to a point in your manuscript which is mud-free and see where the mud begins. Has a character become a puppet?

Plot: Every writer juggles several plots during the writing of a book. There's the main story line, of course. But there are countless other subplots weaving their way through the story, each with its own agenda and its own purpose. Malevolent mud makers appear when one of these plots go astray. The timeline could be awry. The plot goes in a circle instead of in a line. Worst of all is the realization there's no reason for the plot. Malevolent mud makers love plots that don't accomplish anything. Take a harsh look at your manuscript. Are you harboring a plot that is simply taking up space for the sake of taking up space? You've got mud, my friend.

Beware of malevolent mud makers as you continue down your path. Ignore them at your peril. Avoiding them is preferable, but even the best of us can be taken in by their wiles. If you do look down and see mud on your boots, know there is always a way out. It may be a quick fix, it may take time. But you will be mud-free and able to move ahead.

Have you encountered the malevolent mud makers? How did you get unstuck?

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pictures, Not Words

Some pictures to fire your imaginations on this Wednesday. Where are you going? Why are you going? Who are you with? Look. There's a new story.

In Italy...

A path by a river...

A winding highway...

An English country road...

"I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference."
Robert Frost

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

10 Steps to Writing

1. Look for your favourite pen.

2. Discover the pen has inexplicably run dry. Go to the store to find new favourite pen.

3. Reward yourself for finding the new pen by buying yourself coffee.

4. Sit down at your desk and rearrange all the paper that has inexplicably covered it.

5. Read what is written on each piece of paper. Decide it's all worth keeping and you'll file it away. Tomorrow.

6. Reward yourself for coming to a decision about the paper by making a tasty sandwich.

7. Clear your head after all this work by taking a brisk walk around the block.

8. Sit down at your desk and stare at the keyboard. Torture yourself with the fact that all the keys are there to write a runaway bestseller, if you just type them in the correct order.

9. Get up from your desk and pace the room. Notice you're making a pathway in the carpet. Resolve to get hardwood floors. Next week.

10. Sit down. Write one sentence. Delete it. Write another sentence. Delete it. Get fed up and write whatever comes into your head. The last thing you write will be worth keeping.

Monday, April 26, 2010


No one would choose to spend their life marooned on an island,

(well, maybe for a few weeks - if there was room service)

most of us need human contact. We need people to interact with, to bounce ideas off of, to laugh with and to learn from. Everyone needs a friend.

Certainly, your main character needs one.

Your protagonist is busy pushing your plot ahead

(or busy drinking at the bar - I'm not going to judge)

and they need someone at their side. Think carefully about this someone. They can be more colourful than your protagonist; after all they're not the one in the starring role. Quirks are fun. Perhaps they are the owner of a large slobbering dog who has a habit of leaving puddles of saliva in unfortunate places.

(I've just named the dog and have a picture of the beast in my head. This is sad.)

They can't be smarter than your protagonist but nothing is stopping them from having insights your main character is unable to grasp. They can be more observant or more successful. They could have a happy marriage while your protagonist can't keep a relationship afloat for longer than a week, or the reverse might be the case.

How long have they known each other? Since school? Since childhood? Or is this a working partnership, decreed by powers above and both of them have to adjust and figure out what works? The length of the relationship will determine the level of trust between the two. Trust is earned - it isn't transmitted through that first handshake of introduction.

(What is one of them has a wart on their hand? I digress...)

This character can say things your main character never could. They can have rougher (or smoother) edges. Your protagonist can get themselves into dicier situations because they know they've got someone to call to get them out - or at least someone to come looking for them.

Give your protagonist a buddy. It's a lonely world without one.

By the's the dog.

His name is Alphonse.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Fun Friday

Here are the winners of the Bulwer Lytton contest (run by the English Dept. of San Jose State University), wherein one writes only the first line of a bad novel.

10) "As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the echo chamber he would never hear the end of it."

9) "Just beyond the Narrows the river widens."

8) "With a curvaceous figure that Venus would have envied, a tanned unblemished oval face framed with lustrous thick brown hair, deep azure-blue eyes fringed with long black lashes, perfect teeth that vied for competition, and a small straight nose, Marilee had a beauty that defied description."

7) "Andre, a simple peasant, had only one thing on his mind as he crept along the East wall: "Andre creep... Andre creep... Andre creep."

6) "Stanislaus Smedley, a man always on the cutting edge of narcissism, was about to give his body and soul to a back alley sex change surgeon to become the woman he loved."

5) "Although Sarah had an abnormal fear of mice, it did not keep her from eking out a living at a local pet store."

4) "Stanley looked quite bored and somewhat detached, but then penguins often do."

3) "Like an overripe beefsteak tomato rimmed with cottage cheese, the corpulent remains of Santa Claus lay dead on the hotel floor."

2) "Mike Hardware was the kind of private eye who didn't know the meaning of the word "fear," a man who could laugh in the face of danger and spit in the eye of death -- in short, a moron with suicidal tendencies."


1) "The sun oozed over the horizon, shoved aside darkness, crept along the greensward, and, with sickly fingers, pushed through the castle window, revealing the pillaged princess, hand at throat, crown asunder, gaping in frenzied horror at the sated, sodden amphibian lying beside her, disbelieving the magnitude of the frog's deception, screaming madly, "You lied!"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

English History's Mysteries

My mysteries, for the most part, take place in the past. I've written two games occurring during the 1920s, one happens in Regency England, a script taking place in 1959 and two celebrating the '60s and '70s. As many of you know, my novel (now locked into a never-finished edit) takes place in 1935. I've always been interested in history - English history was my first love, but I've also read a great deal about French, Scottish, Irish and Russian history. I love reading historical fiction and have no problem with writers giving me 'what-ifs' to ponder - especially about some of England's biggest still-unresolved mysteries.

Here's a handful of English mysteries. Puzzle over them.

King Arthur
Did he really exist? If he did, he wasn't the King Arthur of the movies with all the knights in shining armor and the ladies in the veiled cone hats. There seems to be some proof he was an ancient Saxon or Welsh king, but no one knows for sure.

The Princes in the Tower
What happened to them? Some historians say Richard III had them killed, some say it was Henry VII's mother, some say it Henry himself. Still others say they were never killed at all, but escaped to continental Europe and the younger prince showed up during Henry VII's reign, leading a rebellion against the Tudor king.

Anne Boylen
Was she really guilty of adultery or was it a trumped up charge? I believe she was innocent. Anne Boleyn has always struck me as a rather clever woman, and fooling around on Henry VIII would have been an incredibly stupid and dangerous thing to do. On the other hand, however, she knew her life depended on giving Henry a son.

Mary, Queen of Scots
Did she write the Casket Letters? These were letters supposedly written by Mary to Lord Bothwell (whom she would later marry) showing her complicity in the murder of her second husband, Lord Darnley. No one knows if she was the author.

Jack the Ripper
Who was he? Theories have risen over the years, but the definitive answer has never been found.

Do you have a favourite historical mystery?

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Jewelry Fit for a Duchess

The Duke and Duchess of Windsor have fascinated me for years. Was theirs a love story? A tragedy? Giving my thoughts on that would be a very long post in itself - and one I'm not sure too many of you would be interested in!

Regardless, the Duke showered his lady-love with jewels, starting when he was the Prince of Wales, continuing on when he was King Edward VIII, and then during their more than 30 year-long marriage as Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

Feast your eyes on a few examples.

This diamond and emerald bracelet is circa 1935.

The Duchess's engagement ring with a 19.77 carat emerald. The band was engraved "We are now ours" and the date October 27, 1936 - the day of her divorce hearing. "WE" was their way of describing their union - taking the first letter from both their first names.

They were married in France on June 3, 1937. This pearl necklace and earrings set were a wedding present sent by the Duke's mother, Queen Mary. The Duchess and the Queen never met. The Duke bought the pearl pendant later, which the Duchess usually wore attached to the necklace.

In 1940, the Duke had Cartier create this flamingo brooch.

This 206.82 carat sapphire pendent is another Cartier creation requested by the Duke in 1951.
The Duke died in 1972, the Duchess in 1986. They are buried side by side at Frogmore, in the grounds of Windsor Castle. As stipulated in her will, all her jewelry was sold at auction with the proceeds going to a French hospital.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Expectations and Realities

There are expectations and then there are realities. Living the life is often very different to looking at the life through a window. Many people are disappointed to learn that the vision of writers living in drafty attics writing away on curling scraps of paper while brushing away the ash falling from their French cigarette and taking healthy shots of a cloudy amber liquid in a fingerprint-smeared glass is somewhat outdated.

Taking this further, here's a wonderful list I discovered contrasting expectations and the probable reality. I have no idea who compiled it, but who ever it was, I salute them.


Martha's Way
Stuff a miniature marshmallow in the bottom of a sugar cone to prevent ice cream drips.

Maxine's Way
Just suck the ice cream out of the bottom of the cone, for Pete's sake! You are probably lying on the couch with your feet up eating it, anyway!

Martha's Way
To keep potatoes from budding, place an apple in the bag with the potatoes.

Maxine's Way
Buy Hungry Jack mashed potato mix, keep it in the pantry for up to a year.

Martha's Way
When a cake recipe calls for flouring the baking pan, use a bit of the dry cake mix instead and there won't be any white mess on the outside of the cake.

Maxine's Way
Go to the bakery! They'll even decorate it for you.

Martha's Way
If you accidentally oversalt a dish while it's still cooking, drop in a peeled potato and it will absorb the excess salt for an instant "fix-me-up."

Maxine's Way
If you oversalt a dish while you are cooking, that's too bad. Please recite with me the real woman's motto: "I made it and you will eat it and I don't care how bad it tastes!"

Martha's Way
Wrap celery in aluminum foil when putting in the refrigerator and it will keep for weeks.

Maxine's Way
Celery? Never heard of it!

Martha's Way
Brush some beaten egg white over pie crust before baking to yield a beautiful glossy finish.

Maxine's Way
The Mrs. Smith frozen pie directions do not include brushing egg whites over the crust so I don't.

Martha's Way
Cure for headaches: take a lime, cut it in half and rub it on your forehead. The throbbing will go away.

Maxine's Way
Take a lime, mix it with tequila, chill and drink!

Martha's Way
If you have a problem opening jars, try using latex dishwashing gloves. They give a non-slip grip that makes opening jars easy.

Maxine's Way
Go ask that very cute neighbor if he can open it for you.

Martha's Way
Don't throw out all that leftover wine. Freeze into ice cubes for future use in casseroles and sauces.

Maxine's Way
Leftover wine???????????
HELLO !!!!!!!

Monday, April 19, 2010

One Bite at a Time

I've been hit by the bug - the spring cleaning bug, that is. However, a warning. Not every window is so clean it sparkles. You don't have the aroma of furniture polish wafting toward you as you come through the front door. You can't see yourself in the gleam of my kitchen floor.

Not yet.

I spring clean in bursts - one day is for washing all the drapes, one day is for cleaning out the kitchen cupboards, one day is for defrosting the big freezer, etc. Breaking it up into manageable, easily completed tasks works best for me.

It's the same with my writing.

I'll give myself realistic goals - get to the end of this chapter, or edit the first 25 pages, or go through and check consistency in one character's POV (I have several). The feeling of accomplishment is enough to make me want to do more tomorrow and I don't feel as if I'm climbing Mt. Everest.

Every writer has to discover what works best for them. Dashiell Hammett used to make himself sit at his typewriter for eight hours a day, regardless of whether he wrote or not. He could spend the entire eight hours staring at a blank piece of paper - but eight hours every day. No exceptions.

Little wonder he had issues with alcohol. (in my opinion, of course)

Self-discipline is crucial and deadlines are real. With deadlines I plan backwards from a week before the date allowing myself a realistic schedule that I know I can stick to - or even get ahead of.

It's like the old joke: How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fun Friday

Welcome to another edition of FUN FRIDAY. I discovered this video a few weeks ago and literally laughed out loud. I'm sure you will too. Enjoy it, enjoy the day, enjoy your weekend. See you Monday!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Bowling Alley

Swing open those big glass doors and welcome to the bowling alley of writing. Check your ego along with your shoes and let's play. Beware. It's not as easy as it looks.

You stand at the end of a long narrow alley. Your mission? Hurl that heavy ball in your hand down the runway and knock over all the pins. How hard can it be? It's just like all your friends say, "Oh, I've always wanted to write a book. I just can't find the time", or "I've got a great idea for a book, I'm going to write it during my time off work this summer."

Yeah, good luck to them.

First you need to: Prepare.

In bowling, this will be your approach to the line. You need to time your stride and your swing. In writing, it's the brainstorming and note-taking before you write. Some prepare more, some less. I believe the more you prepare the less likely disaster will come as your ball (or pen) rolls down the alley (or paper). However, you can get lucky.

I don't believe much in luck.

Second you need to: Release the ball.

It's the first draft. It may be wobbly, but it goes down the alley. It may roll fast, it may roll slow - but it rolls.

Third you need to: Knock down the pins.

The pins are your characters. See how neatly they're arranged? See how they never fall the way you thought they would? Non-writers cannot understand when a writer comments on their characters misbehaving. "How is this possible?" they say, "you're the writer - you're the one in charge." I smile at this remark and then change the subject. I will not tell them of the myriad of times I've looked at my computer screen and said, out loud, "What are you doing?" or "You little sneak"(or another more colourful metaphor - I am alone after all) or "Well, aren't you clever?"

Fourth, you need to: Avoid the gutter.

The gutter is when your plot goes off track - and not in a good way. This is when you (unwittingly, of course) write yourself into a corner, or discover you have assigned behaviour or attitudes to characters that are completely illogical. Luckily, you get more than one turn.

With time, you learn to release the ball at exactly the right moment and it will pick up speed as it heads, straight and true, toward the pins. Practice makes perfect - or better, anyways.

I wish you all many perfect games. And, by the way... love your shoes.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Pictures, Not Words

It's 1935. England. You've been invited to a formal dinner party in one of the great English houses.

Here's what's at your place setting - although the napkin would NEVER be in a napkin ring. Far too middle class.

In 1935, the white mess jacket was the newest fashion for men to wear at formal dinners. Who set the fashion? The Prince of Wales. (later Edward VIII, later Duke of Windsor)
But, of course, you could get by with traditional dinner jacket.
Women's fashion is long and slinky. Think of the finest silks and satin, cut on the bias. Diamonds, optional - but certainly encouraged.

The host and hostess will be placed at each end of the table and the highest ranking gentleman will be placed on the hostess's left. Highest ranking lady on the host's right. No spouses are ever placed next to each other.

You'll be eating at least six courses - starting off with something light, like melon - moving to the fish course, to the soup course, to the entree, to the salad, to the dessert to the savoury. After dinner the ladies will retire to the main sitting room for coffee while the gentlemen gather around the table for port and cigars.

One of these dinners is in my WiP. Fun to write - but it would have been even more fun to experience!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Villain

Everyone loves a hero (or heroine), but today I play tribute to the villain - that character who we can't get along without.

If you don't have a villain, you don't have a story. Someone has to be turning your protagonist's world upside-down - and who is that? It's your villain. There are all types of bad guys out there - there are the ones who are trying to achieve something, those who are trying to get something, and those who are just plain mean.

Take a moment and think about your villain. What do they want? What is driving their actions? As actors say "What's my motivation?" No one is bad just to be bad. Even twisted serial killers have their own reasons for perpetrating their crimes. No matter your genre - there's a villain. It can be a character trait of your protagonist's that they need to overcome. If you're writing a murder mystery, your villain might just be your victim. He's always there, twirling his metaphorical moustache.

I've written all sorts of villains - I've written murder nights where the victim is so unbelievably evil, it's a miracle they haven't been killed off years ago. I've written amoral murderers who just simply want what they want and have no qualms about doing whatever is necessary to achieve their goals. I've also had villains that weren't evil - simply people caught up in a bad situation.

I enjoy reading books where the villain is within the protagonist. Driving ambition can be a wonderfully villainous characteristic. So can be the need for perfection, or for approval.

So today, give your villain some love. After all, you wouldn't be writing if he didn't exist!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Just One More Thing...

Writing is like laundry - it's never finished. The laundry lesson I've learned over the years as I've noticed the gleaming empty interior of the laundry basket never stays that way for more than a few hours. Suddenly, kaboom - there's a pair of jeans - or pyjamas - or fifteen towels.


Writing seems to be a creature of a similar stripe. There's always more editing. Or re-writing. Or purging. Or fifteenth guessing.

This must be why deadlines were invented. Also, why so many writers end up having substance abuse issues.

Then there's that always delicious moment when you're sure what you've written is the worst drivel that ever made its way onto a computer screen.

The characters which you loved now seem flat. The dialogue which you remember as sparkling is now tired and riddled with cliches. The climax is banal and the conclusion would cure insomnia.

Welcome to my world.

I know this is just a phase - but I'd like it to pass, please. I've got all those little whisperings in my head hissing, "This is awful. How much time have you taken to write this? Take up another career. Welding looks interesting."

As I jump about the blogosphere I visit blog after blog of writers happily chirping about how well everything is going. They've just had a new idea and are already half way through their first draft. A new character just appeared whom they love. Oh look, another award. Oh look, another project. Oh look, accolades overflow.

I'm finding this just a tad discouraging. The hissing is getting louder.

Meanwhile, I shall fight the overwhelming urge to hit the delete button. I'll do laundry instead.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Fun Friday

Welcome one, welcome all, to another edition of Fun Friday! Today's post gives you amusing quotes from two people one might not, at first, think of as funny, and one who was one of this world's best comedic writers.

From Winston Churchill:

"A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject."

"Golf is a game whose aim it is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose."

"I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals."

"I'm just preparing my impromptu remarks."

Lady Nancy Astor: "Winston, if you were my husband, I'd poison your tea."
Mr. Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband, I'd drink it."

From Agatha Christie:

"An archeologist is the best husband a woman can have. The older she gets, the more interested he is in her."

"I've always believed in writing without a collaborator, because where two people are writing the same book, each believes he gets all the worry and only half the royalties."

From Erma Bombeck:

"A friend will tell you she saw your old boyfriend - and he's a priest."

"All of us have moments in our lives that test our courage. Taking children into a house with a white carpet is one of them."

"Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the airport carousel never belongs to anyone?"

"I come from a family where gravy is considered a beverage."

"In two decades, I've lost a total of 789 pounds. I should be hanging from a charm bracelet."

"It goes without saying you that should never have more children than you have car windows."

"My second favourite household chore is ironing. My first is hitting my head on the top bunk bed until I faint."

Have a wonderful weekend. See you Monday.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Pictures, and A Few Words

I confess. Until a few years ago, I was woefully ignorant about the Channel Islands - so ignorant, in fact, that I had mentally placed them in the wrong part of the English Channel. My thinking was since they're known as the Channel Islands, they must be in the English Channel. I was sure, if I looked on a map, I would find them skulking around the Isle of Wight.


This little group of islands are actually, just off the coast of France. There are five inhabited islands and four uninhabited tiny islets. The largest island, Guernsey, is the location of my second novel, tentatively entitled ROSEMARY FOR REMEMBRANCE, taking place during the early months of the German Occupation in 1940.

Here is its location on a map.
The Channel Islands came to Britain as part of William the Conqueror's legacy. Besides being William the Conqueror, he was also William, Duke of Normandy, and as such the islands were part of his territory. They have always enjoyed a rather odd relationship with Great Britain - they're part of Great Britain in a way - but not in others. For instance, Guernsey has its own currency and stamps, and although you can use British pounds in transactions on Guernsey, Guernsey pounds cannot be used in Britain. Another instance - all the Channel Islands are tax-free. However, if you're thinking of moving there - think again. It's incredibly tricky. These islanders aren't fond of outsiders and a non-Islander has to swim through red tape to set up residence.

Here are a few views of Guernsey.

Yes, there are palm trees.

The island is encircled with beaches, cliffs and caves.

A view of Guernsey's main city, St. Peter's Port.

Boats are for pleasure - and for work. That's Jethou (one of the islets) in the distance.

See you tomorrow.

P.S. Thanks to you who stopped by yesterday and left 'get well wishes'. I'm on the mend.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


No post today - I'm fighting some strange stomach bug. I shall prevail, but for now I sip ginger ale and moan piteously.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

An Unexpected Detour

I had yesterday all planned. It was the last day of Easter holidays, so I was going to take my kids shopping, get some baking done and generally clean up my clutter-filled house. I even had the lofty ambition to get started on my basement. I threw the first load of washing into the dryer and put the second load into the washer. About 15 minutes later, I realized the dryer had stopped. Odd. The clothes couldn't be dry yet - but maybe I had lost track of time (not an entirely implausible situation). But no. The dryer had died. Kaput.

Visions of dollars flying out the window danced in my brain. This is a fairly old dryer - and my washing machine is so old I'm amazed it's still sudsing away. How old is it? Let's put it this way - it washed diapers and my eldest is in Grade 11.

Time for buying new machines. Not now, but right now. Problem: I had no car yesterday. I was now sitting with half-dry clothes in the dryer and sopping wet clothes in the washer. I draped some of the clothes about the house ( it's a new decorating style that I think should have its day) and last night the other clothes went to get dried in the laundromat.

Needless to say, my day did not go as planned.

This got me to thinking, what would happen in our stories if something suddenly stopped working? What if the power went out? Or the phones went dead? Or transportation wasn't easily available? Sometimes it's fun to think sideways and figure out new ways of doing things.

Unexpected hurdles can be great plot twists - in fiction. In life, not so much. Today, I hunt for a new washer and dryer. I'm hoping for a detourless path.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Layers of Characters

I have many characters in my WiP - some main, some supporting. Some appear and disappear within a paragraph. But I remind myself constantly each of them must be there for a reason.

I'm working to make the main characters multi-faceted, even the unlikeable ones. In this latest round of editing, I'm trying to dig deeper, to discover why they do the things they do and why they view the world the way they do. Some characters, honestly, I like better than others - and some, honestly, are easier to write than others.

I'm taking a hard look at my supporting characters asking myself, do they really need to be here, or are they still here because I'm used to having them around? Is the story better with them, or (gulp) without them? I may turn into a character executioner.

In every book I admire, the author has done a wonderful job making the characters real and I want to be able to do that too. (please, please, please let me be good enough) I'm determined to write a book populated with real people, not cardboard cutouts.

It's an odd balancing act: trying to respect each of them and at the same time looking at each with disrespect as I ask myself do they serve their purpose? Has their purpose changed? Do each of my main characters evolve during the plot so that they're at a different place at the end then they were at the beginning? A character that doesn't grow is dull. I don't want dull characters.

Plain, one layer cake can be good - but a multi-layered cake filled with yummy surprises is better. It just takes longer to bake.


Friday, April 2, 2010

Fun Friday

A special Fun Friday for Easter.

The Rules of Chocolate

If you get melted chocolate all over your hands, you're eating it too slowly.

Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as you want.

The problem: How to get two pounds of chocolate home from the store in a hot car.
The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.

Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each meal.
It'll take the edge off your appetite and you'll eat less.

A nice box of chocolates can provide your total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?

If you can't eat all your chocolate, it will keep in the freezer. But if you can't eat all your chocolate, what's wrong with you?

If calories are an issue, store your chocolate on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.

Money talks. Chocolate sings.

Chocolate has many preservatives. Preservatives make you look younger.

Why is there no such organization as Chocoholics Anonymous?
Because no one wants to quit.

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done.

Chocolate is a health food. Chocolate is derived from cacao beans. Bean = vegetable. Sugar is derived either from sugar beets or cane, both vegetables. And, of course, the milk/cream is dairy. So eat more chocolate to meet the dietary requirements for daily vegetable and dairy intake.

Author Unknown

A special one for all the mystery writers!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1st

A BBC crew has captured the first footage of penguins flying. Experience the wonder.

What's the date?

Have a great day.