Fear in Writing: March 2010

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Coffeeshop Watch

Coffeeshops.  What a hotbed of crazy humanity!  There is the insanely overweight man with the state school ballcap.  The mixed-fashion college students--one in a plaid golf cap and skinny jeans, the other in a preppy black fleece.  There's the semi-cool, fighting middle age, work-from-home guy; the dowdy high school graduate slumped so far down in her chair that her brown shirt, brown hair and dark attitude melt into the brown leather; the crazy loud-on-her-bluetooth businesswoman--spouting catchwords and business slang like she's on Wall Street...

Then there are the writers.

They were sitting next to me today, at one of those high cocktail tables.  Each was waxing about his antagonist and romace plot line and hidden twists.  One had a heavy southern accent delivered in a nasal voice.  The other sported a beard and didn't talk much.

They were the only ones in the coffeeshop actually talking to each other.  What brought them together may have been the written word, but they managed to put a voice to it, conversing and exchanging ideas.

At first it was annoying.  I mean, I'm trying to write here!  But then it was intriguing and a bit inspiring--not hero dies saving a child inspiring, but small-twitch-of-a-smile-I-know-what-you're-going-through inspiring.

Writers.  I guess we stand out in a crowd.

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Monday, March 29, 2010


I am working on my award post but it is taking a lot more thought and energy than anticipated.  Therefore, here are some egg-celent photos to crack you up in the meantime.  I will start and end with crime eggs, per the purpose of this blog.

Happy Egg Week.  (I mean, you can't really say eggs and bunnies are connected with Easter...)

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Contest Re-Up

Hi all...It's been a busy week and I have not been around the blogs as much as I would have liked.  Freelance work was good to me this week--three producing shifts at the tv station.  That being said, I've missed you guys!

So, with a lack of good ideas to publish today, I will repost this week's contest.

Guess each of the following writers (key word: writers, not authors), based on the locations in which they place their characters.  For more on this contest, see Tuesday's post.

Location, location, lcoation...
Louisiana: deep in the country but really only miles from a city steeped in despseration and devastation.
New York City: at the height of the Wall Street 90s, hedonism, neon, and flesh on every sidewalk.

Rome: in every church and every underground passage, the stones bleed history.

Nashville: the Athens of the South, eye-catching architecture and history-making locations spread across one of America's fastest growing cities.

Louisiana: awarded the Edgar Award twice for Best Crime Novel of the Year.
New York City: had his best-known book made into a movie starring Christian Bale.
Rome: one of the best-selling and most controversial authors of all times.
Nashville: unpublished writer.

Guess all four and you win the book of your choice by one of the authors!

Thursday, March 25, 2010


Today in Literary History...March 25, 1955: The U.S. Customs Department confiscates 520 copies of Allen Ginsberg's book Howl, which had been printed in England. Officials alleged that the book was obscene.

Obscene: For something to be "obscene" it must be shown that the average person, applying contemporary community standards and viewing the material as a whole, would find (1) that the work appeals predominantly to "prurient" interest; (2) that it depicts or describes sexual conduct in a patently offensive way; and (3) that it lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value. (LectLaw.com)

For more on banned books, check out The Dangerous Pages Review.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Exhilerating exhaustion

Broken glasses.  Jake to school.  Eye appointment for me.  Farm days at NC State--free ice cream for the kids!  Loooong drive home...

No post today.  Exhausted.  But good exhausted.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Location. Location. Location. (and a contest)

Louisiana: deep in the country but really only miles from a city steeped in despseration and devastation.

New York City: at the height of the Wall Street 90s, hedonism, neon, and flesh on every sidewalk.

Rome: in every church and every underground passage, the stones bleed history.

Nashville: the Athens of the South, eye-catching architecture and history-making locations spread across one of America's fastest growing cities.

These are all settings for books you know.  Some writers take pride in using location as its own character...And I must say, I love these books!

There are certain genres that lend themselves to the location-driven plot--mystery and historical fiction being two of them.  What would historical fiction be without a setting?  The late 19th century is a time, but place your characters in Victorian London and you have a feeling, a vision, a set of social mores that enrich your plot.

Mystery/suspense is also a great friend of the location-character.  Think of all the scenes made more mysterious by placing: an empty house, a dark night completely quiet or slashed by torrential rain, a building housing a shell corporation--bustling with lemming-like people as they keep their secret locked inside all that concrete.

Now, see if you can guess the books or writers whose locations I described above.  The first person to get all four correct will receive a book by one of the authors!  Spread the word...I bet you can figure these out if you think about it.

Questions for discussion: Do you like reading a book where location is a character (let's make it a given that it's done well)?  Is location important to you in your writing?  Would you rather read about real locations, or imaginary ones?  How about writers--do you prefer to stay true to history and geography, or create your own setting?

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Monday, March 22, 2010

The Wolf Within my Mailbox (Monday)

A brief Mailbox Monday, then I have to get ready for work.  Strange that I'm the one going to work today.  It's been about 2 1/2 years since I worked full-time.  I will try to make the blog rounds at some point today.  It will all depend on the number of liveshots we have planned.  We'll see!

On to the mailbox...Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.

These last few weeks have been busy ones for my trusty mailbox.  The kids are starting to be unimpressed by packages!  I mean, they're all for Mommy anyway, right?

This week...
Margot Kinberg sent her mystery B-Very Flat, which I won on her blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist.

I bought Kristi Chestnutt's new release, The Wolf Within, at her book-release party.  It was the first of those for me and absolutely fabulous!  Kristi is, as her blog indicates, a ball of crazy energy and spunk.  And so far, this book reflects that.  You can find Kristi at Random daily thoughts, though probably not today because she's still recovering from the party.

Also this past week, because of this post on the Hollywood Spy (which I also included in yesterday's Foreign Post Roundup), I ordered and received The Beautiful Cigar Girl: Mary Rodgers, Edgar Allan Poe, and the Invention of Murder.  This I purchased through the PaperbackSwap Market.

Alright, I know this is a bit low-key for me, but I have to get ready for work before the kids wake up!  It's my only time!  (If you haven't noticed, I am intentionally giving as much information without being dangerous.  It's kind of a game for this post.)  What kind of shampoo will I be using?  Hmmm...probably the new Burt's Bees samples sent to me by WUNC, a gift for supporting the NPR affiliate.

Ok, enough of that.  Now I see why this is so ridiculous!  Not only is it dangerous to give away too much of yourself, but it's also damn boring for others to read!  Who really gives a *l****...just kidding.  This is not that kind of a blog.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Foreign Post Roundup

1. How historical do you like your historical fiction? Click here.

2.  This is actually from last weekend, but in mysterious news it is tops!  A movie with Edgar Poe as main character--check out The Hollywood Spy for the details.

3.  A Southern compilation and a post from the editor.  Don't miss this one--James Lee Burke, John Grisham, etc.

4.  Movies teach you how to run a business.  Read about it on Mason's blog, Thoughts in Progress.

5.  Paris bookstores--you'll fall in love again--from author Cara Black of Murder is Everywhere.

6.  Characters becoming self-aware, a strange journey through Wonderland by Elizabeth Spann Craig.

7.  Cathy at Kittling Books' weekly Blogthings quiz--How boyish or girlish are you?
You Are 30% Boyish and 70% Girlish
Even if you're not a girl, you're very feminine.
You're in touch with your feelings, and your heart rules you.
A bit of a emotional roller coaster, one moment you're up and the next you're down.
But no matter what, you try to be as cute and perky as possible.

A fun one I found on the site...
What part of a Fairy Tale are you?
You Are the Dragon

You are powerful and a bit intimidating. While you do have a bit of a temper, your bark is much more vicious than your bite.
In general, you tend to be fair and even noble. You treat everyone with respect, and you try to do right by people.
However, if someone crosses you, you can get downright nasty. Your emotions can get the better of you.
You don't literally breath fire when you're angry, but enough. It's best not to make you bad.

8.  A Life Without Books--imagine it as Darrell James did at Inkspot.

9.  If you want to sell books, you have to know your audience.  Elizabeth Spann Craig sprinkles this topic with her unique perspective and personal stories.

10.  A people without a name--Michael Stanly investigates the Bushmen.

11.  When words say it all...Sharazad has the quotes for the way you feel about books right here.

12.  Reviews of banned books!  Feel like you're being subversive at Unlock Worlds.  (Found through The Dangerous Pages Review.)

13.  A new-to-me blog by a new-to-Southern City Mysteries follower: Sharp Pen/Dull Sword.  Writing, beautiful pictures, and fashion, too!

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Reading Habit

When does reading become a race?  When does it become work?

Well, when you're a writer.

Recently, I have found myself not so excited about sitting down with a good book.  It is not a statement on the quality of the read, but rather a statement on my approach.

Sites like Shelfari and Goodreads encourage full bookshelves and page input, reviews and ratings.  In order to participate, I have to read as many books as possible, right?  I have to type in every title I have ever read and read more and more and more to fill my shelf and be friended and make in impact...right?

Additionally, I am a writer.  When I read I notice passages I want to emulate and, more often, passages I want to strike out, vomit upon, and send back to the writer with big, fat, red-ink marks.  So reading has taken on a new meaning--that of the case study.

I love reading.  I dream in complete books.  I fold myself into the stories I read and dive into the lives of characters.  But, sometimes it just seems too fake.  Sometimes I need to step back and see why I am really doing it, why I am really turning pages.  Am I learning?  Researching?  Dreaming?  Avoiding?  Racing?

Sharing the books you love via Goodreads and Shelfari is wonderful.  I have had some great discussions and discovered new books on these sites.  But why am I really updating my reading habits?  Is it for posterity?  Is it for my own personal achievement?

It doesn't hurt to step back and look. 

And then get back to reading.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Author Keith Raffel and his book Smasher

Author Keith Raffel joins Southern City Mysteries today.  He has two books out in the world--Dot.Dead and his most recent mystery/suspense, Smasher.  Raffel has done many different things in his life, from serving as counsel to the Senate Intelligence Committee overseeing the secret world of the CIA, NSA, and others, to starting a software company in Silicon Valley.  Now he uses those experiences to spin tales for his readers.  What follows are just a few questions I posed to Raffel, and the answers he was so kindly willing to give...

ME: You write from experience. How closely does the life of your protagonist mirror your own (save murder and intrigue)?

KR: Of course, Ian Michaels is just like me – only younger, smarter, more courageous, richer, and more attractive to women. Seriously, Ian is not me. Instead, while I’m writing, I try to become him. I try to react as he would, reason as he would. I do incorporate the emotions I’ve felt into the book, but not the incidents of my life.
Still, no matter how much I protest, people just don’t believe my heroes are not me. I had a friend read a manuscript for me recently. I asked her for comments. She said everything was fine until page 180. I asked what happened there. She said, “I know your wife and that’s the page where you started cheating on her.” “It’s fiction,” I said. “The narrator is not me.” I couldn’t convince her. If we lived in Puritan times, she’d have me walking around with a scarlet letter on my T-shirt.

ME: Which book was more satisfying to you, your first achievement, Dot Dead? Or your second, Smasher?

KR: Dot Dead is a straight-ahead whodunit. Ian Michaels comes home to find a woman stabbed to death in his bed and quickly becomes a suspect in her murder. I tried to do something more ambitious in Smasher and twist together four story strands. First of all, a billionaire is trying to steal away a company from the protagonist, Ian Michaels. Second, his wife Rowena, the book’s other hero, is trying her first murder case. Then, Ian’s mother is hounding him to get her aunt the credit she deserves for a breakthrough discovery in particle physics. And finally, a black sedan runs down Rowena on an early morning run; the police think it’s a hit and run accident, but Ian knows better.
Where does all that leave me? Dot Dead is like a first love. It will always have a special place in my heart. Smasher is my current infatuation. Don’t make me choose!

ME: While most of us accept digital breakthroughs as the norm these days, they are still pretty amazing in Silicon Valley and the world of your protagonist. How do you keep the balance in your books--between technical information and the average reader?

KR: I try to deal with the technology so that techies nod their heads when reading and non-techies don’t feel like skipping anything. Technology is in the background of the book, not its focal point. Much more than the technology itself, I’m trying to convey the ethos of Silicon Valley – how people act, what’s important here. Silicon Valley is a company town in the same way L.A. is. The former has start-ups, the latter has Hollywood. I want to give readers insight into a setting and the characters who live there.

ME: Why did you choose to make Judaism a part of your story? Has it played a big part in your life?

KR: My primary motivation in writing is to entertain. When I picture someone reading Dot Dead or Smasher, I see her or him on a beach chair or in an airplane seat.
But I do have a more subtle, secondary motivation. Like Ian Michaels in my books, I’m both a Silicon Valley guy and a Jew. Both parts of my background infuse the books. When Dot Dead starts, the hero is obsessed with making tens of millions from stock options he's been granted by the start-up where he works ninety hours a week. Didn’t Mary Poppins say, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down?” In the course of the two books, I try to “slip in” the notion that pursuing justice, belonging to a community, and establishing a loving relationship just might also be goals worth striving for. (I think in Silicon Valley that’s called heresy.) I am contrasting the schizophrenic values I myself have lived with: Ian Michaels's first obsession reflects the ethos of Silicon Valley and the second set of goals reflects Jewish values.
I’ve had evangelical Christians, Catholic nuns, Moslems, Buddhists, and Hindus tell me they loved what I’ve written. They like learning a little bit about Judaism and, of course, there’s a universality to the journey Ian is on. I doubt any religion would say a single-minded quest for money and material success was more important than justice, community, or family.

ME: What's next for Ian Michaels? Is there more after Smasher?

KR: I’m not writing an Ian and Rowena book now. I wanted to write a few standalone thrillers and then get back to Ian and Rowena. There’s unfinished business there. Dennis Lehane is about to bring back Patrick Kenzie and Angela Gennaro after eleven years. I sure hope it’s not that long for Ian and Rowena.

ME: Do you plan to break away from your own experiences and write even further from your comfort zone?

KR: When the Cold War was cooking, Berlin was where Americans and Soviets would rub up against each other, a place of intrigue, a place where the end of the world might begin. That made it a great setting for thrillers. (See, e.g., Berlin Game by Len Deighton, one of my favorites ever.) I figured the equivalent place today had to be Jerusalem, right? So in the summer of 2008, my then nine-year old son and I visited the Holy City to do research. We did everything from crawling through ancient tunnels and to eating falafel at outdoor cafĂ©s. I’ve submitted a manuscript set there to my agent which he loves. Now he’s finding a publisher who does, too.
Thanks for the great questions, Michele. This was fun!

Thanks to Keith for a great interview.  I love it when an author gives interesting and honest answers.  Well, as honest as you can expect from a Cold War hack, right? :)  For more on Raffel and his books, check out his website http://www.keithraffel.com/ and his blog, Dot Dead Diary.  Raffel also blogs on the Inkspot blog with other authors you will recognize.

(In the interest of full disclosure, I have read Dot.Dead [and really enjoyed it] but not Smasher.  It is on its way to my mailbox via TheBookDepository.com.)
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A SciFi/Mystery writer's pot'o'gold

The printer heads hum into action, warming to the huge task at hand like it's nothing.  To them it is nothing.  Every day occurance.  Their job.

Printing body parts.

That's right, San Diego-based Organovo has developed a 3D bio-printer, the first of which are on their way to research groups around the country (see The Economist, 'Making a bit of me').  The machine will begin with the simple stuff--you know, skin, muscle, blood vessels--easy.  But, eventually, Organovo predicts doctors will be able to print kidneys and hearts in situ--that's right, inside the body.

Ok, so the medical implications are obvious--no more waiting for on long transplant lists, no more worries of your body rejecting someone else's organs, survival of fetuses that before were not viable.

But this is a writing blog!  And the implications for mystery and science fiction writers is astounding!  Look at the possibilities, people!  Though, I have to say it is less science fiction than science fact, I see medical mysteries abounding.  Machines gone crazy, printing incorrect organs, or crazy misuse of the system.  Maybe these printers have biological traits of their own? 

The future is here and it is great for writers.
(More on the bio-printer at an NPR interview here.)

Author Keith Raffel will be answering my questions here tomorrow!  Don't miss the interview, and check out his books, Smasher and Dot.Dead.)
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

PleaseRobMe.com and Oversharing

"Buying Jimmy Choos at Bergdorff's right now!" she tweets  from her Blackberry.  The words pop up on hundreds of computer screens around the world, but only one person smiles with sinister delight.  This is his moment.

He already has his bag packed.  Lock-picking set.  Alarm code deactivator--$29.99 online.  Snacks (he would keep up with her status via Twitter, but she could be gone an hour or all day--his girl is the unpredictable sort).  Silk scarf.

He checks the Twitter page one more time, then gets out of his car.  Fumbling with his keys, he nervously locks his car door.  This is it, his mind screams.  I almost have her!


He spins so fast his keys tumble to the pavement.  Just a jogger.  "Morning," he manages.  He sounded almost normal.  Did he appear normal?  Fleece pullover, jeans, dark runners, faux glasses that everyone would remember.  The jogger is already a block away.

His Blackberry buzzes in his pocket as he hurries toward her house. 

She has tweeted again.  "Best sale.  Jealous people on the train!  Heading home. Shopaholic movie awaits."

"Shit," he mumbles, and picks up the pace.  Thirty minutes on the train, then maybe five in the car before she's home.  He has to be ready.  He has to be waiting with the scarf and ready to take her for his own!  And he had wanted time to explore...Damn Twitter.

But without it he'd never know where she was at all times, so he could kill her.
This morning's story was inspired by an article my husband read to me from his Economist magazine.  Entitled 'Follow me,' the gist is that people use sites like Twitter (but not just Twitter) to share their location with the world, and therefore put themselves at great risk.  In fact, a big part of the article was a website called Pleaserobeme.com, which gathers Twitter feeds people put out there advertising they are away from home, publishes them on the site and sends them to the person in question.

Have you fallen prey to this trend?  I have published on here when I was traveling but, though I haven't said it, there has always been someone still at home (my husband--we never get to travel together!).  I don't carry any sort of device with me that allows me to tweet from stores or other places, so I can't tell you where I am throughout the day.  I have thought about getting one, but maybe this new information is a reason not to do so--though I'd like to think I would be a bit smarter with it.

Though it is a scary idea that there are people out there trolling the social networking sites, I will admit, my first thought upon hearing this article was, Great fodder for a mystery story!

What do you think?  We are obviously a group mired in the depths of social networking.  Are you concerned about oversharing?

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Breathe, it's (Mailbox) Monday!

Yes, a new week has begun.  But no reason to start with anything but a deep breath and an exciting meme: Mailbox Monday, hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page.  Marcia also hosts a great program called Read it Forward.  She donates (for this second year of the program) her used books to the library system, and all her ARCs to fellow bloggers.  If that doesn't make her blog worth following, I don't know what does!  So check her out for this and some great reading ideas.

On to Mailbox Monday...Two fantastic books came into my home this past week.

First--Blood Atonement by Dan Waddell, via The Book Depository.  Waddell is a blogging contributor at Murder is Everywhere, and he is the British correspondent, so to speak.  I started reading this book on Friday and will finish it today.  It is a very intriguing story with a geneology base--something I had never thought to place at the center of a murder!  I will definitely be buying his first one when I finish this one.
Second--also from the Murder is Everywhere group, Tim Hallinan's A Nail Through the Heart.  Hallinan writes from Thailand and I am especially interested to read his work.  I will let you know what I think! 

As I told you last Monday, I also have this blog's Cara Black's Murder in the Bastille and Michael Stanley's A Carrion Death.  I am waiting for Leighton Gage's book to arrive in my mailbox (maybe by next Mailbox Monday!) and I have had Yrsa Sigurdardottir's Last Rituals for awhile.  (You'll see at the right it is my chosen May Thriller & Suspense Challenge book.) 

So why all the Murder is Everywhere books?  One, I am taking part in the Global Reading Challenge.  Two, the blog fascinates me.  It strikes at my desire to learn about the world and delve into mysteries near and far.  Each contributor has such a unique perspective on the writing world, and they are brought together not by geography or common publisher, but by love of mystery.  They are worlds away from each other!  And that fascinates me. 

I hope to wrangle them in for a group interview somehow, and I'll let you know if they're willing and able.  But I want to make it through one of each of their books first.  I am learning a lot about different styles and different parts of the world from this small case study.  And I'll be glad to share with anyone interested all that I glean.

How is your mailbox this Monday?  Do you like reading books written and set in countries foreign to you?

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday Foreign Post Roundup

1. Anne Elle Altman reviews Jane Eyre.  And you should love this book, too.

2.  Apprenticeship in crime fiction?  Check it out at IT'S A CRIME! (OR A MYSTERY...)

3. A poem in honor of International Women's Day at Fullet's Secret Forest.

4.  L. Diane Wolfe posts about book reviews--are they important?  Her post really made me think, so check it out here.

5. If you like historical mysteries, this book introduced to me by Marcia at The Printed Page should be up your alley.  (Particularly interesting to fans of Tasha Alexander.)  Click over to see which book we're talking about!

6. What Farm Animal are you? from Cathy at Kittling Books.
You Are a Cow
You are a kind, nurturing, and caring creature. You are deeply connected to the world around you.
You have a good intuition, and you sense what people need from you. You are happy to give as much as you can.You are a very placid creature. Because you remain so calm and cool, people seem to underestimate your mind.
You are extremely intelligent and aware, but you don't always show it. You're more likely to reflect on your thoughts than share them with the world.
And, as I wrote on Cathy's blog, "Ok, at first I was like 'What!', but the description is flattering, so I am a cow!"

7.  When I first started blogging, I found this blog--The Dangerous Pages Review.  Or she found me, I'm not sure which.  But I have recently been so bogged down in family affairs and my own blog that I wandered away from this most excellent location.  On Monday Sharazad came to Southern City Mysteries with a comment, and reminded me to go back to one of my favorite blogs.  I recommend you check The Dangerous Pages Review weekly, and for this week, click over to her review of Mein Kampf.  It's not called "dangerous" by chance!

8. Crime & comedy at Paul D. Brazill's blog...It's a crime how funny it is. :)

9. Writing the white space--excellent post on writing for smart readers by Anne Elle Altman.

10.  Former detective and writer Lee Lofland says this show is ACCURATE!  Check out his post on Southland.

11.  For southerners, the Mint Julip letter at Art and Literature.

12.  A little off the beaten writing path, but writers like to impact the world, right?  Paul C. of Quoteflections shares his plan to solve a global problem.  And for more entries (or to add your own), go to Good.is.

13.  Who gets tired of writers' questions?  Elspeth will crack you up with this take.

14.  The Screaming of the Innocent.  If that title doesn't get your attention, then nothing I write after it will.  And what would a Sunday Foreign Post Roundup be without a link to Murder is Everywhere?

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

Debate, Quirks & Beautiful Blogger Award

Today I am going to watch my son play soccer, then going into the station for the first time since my high school football show ended last December.  It will be nice to be around other journalists, working toward putting quality news and sports on television.  I like that dynamic.  I like the give and take, the arguments even that ensue with people want their news product to be the best.

As you've often noticed, I end each post with a question.  I like to spark debates here as well.  It is through debate that I feel our best ideas, our strongest relationships, and our best selves come.
I grew up in a house where debate and conversation were encouraged.  Anything we wanted to discuss was allowed, and it made for very interesting--and very long--family dinners.  Because of this aspect of our family dynamic, we are still a very close family, even though we're spread across three states and very different stages in life.

When my husband first sat down to dinner with his future in-laws, he was silent.  He was floored.  He was astonished and maybe a little appalled.  Discussion was by no means quashed at his house, but life wasn't openly debated as it was in mine.

So I went into a  field where every subject in the world is covered, an endless possibility of knowledge and falseness is open to me, a world of debate spreads out on every page and channel.  And, when that didn't satisfy, I founded this blog.  My blog.  A place where I can pick the topic and the questions.  A place where I can encourage discussion and bring ideas to people.  And I love it!

Ok.  Interesting ramble, but the real point of today's post was supposed to be this:
the Beautiful Blogger Award, so graciously bestowed upon me by DL Hammons of Cruising Altitude.  The rules are these: link to the person who nominated me for this award (done), share seven interesting things about myself, and nominate seven other beautiful bloggers.

I can't imagine you all are interested in seven more things about this writer, and I certainly won't claim that the following are interesting, but here goes...

The theme today--Seven Beautiful Quirks of Michele
1. I abhor wrinkled paper.  Can't stand it.  And I have kids, so I cringe a lot.
2. I smell the glue in all my books before reading them.  With new books, this is an especially enjoyable exercise, therefore I never lend new books to people.  Call me selfish!
3. I can't stand soggy food.  I put the milk in the bowl before the cereal.  Then I put a small amount of cereal in and eat it really quickly.  Repeat.  Sometimes my kids remember prayer right in the middle of one of these bowls, and I am stuck in a tough place--and I won't tell you what I do on these occasions!
4. After a good meal, I get giddy and giggly and goofy.  I jump around and make crazy noises.  My husband loves this (so he says), and parks far enough away from the restaurant that I have room to romp on the way back to the car.
5. I edit conversations as I hear them.  (And I mean you!)  Call it side effect of being a journalist/writer, or just a personality quirk, but I hate long-winded people--and I have no problem editing you!
6. If I bump my right elbow, I have to bump my left one in exactly the same way.  Same goes with any other parts of my body.  Balance is key.
7. This one I've used before, but I can't think of a fresh one: I must read before bed each night.  Even if i drag myself in at midnight (like I will tonight after work), I still must read!  One page or thirty, never fails.  MUST READ!

Now, to whom should I pass on this beautifully crafted and oh-so nosy award?
How about you lucky bloggers--
Al of Publish or Perish, for his inspiring stories and beautiful photography...
Elizabeth of Mystery Writing is Murder, because I want to see her try and fit one more award on her blog...
Simone of The romantic query letter..., because her blog IS BEAUTIFUL!
Helen of Straight from Hel, who beautifies my life with her knowledge and experience...
C. Carter of CC's Chronicles, because she sent me an adorable Saint Patricks card today, and she is a great blogger...
Lorel Clayton of I'm Blogging Drowning Here!, because she keeps me going when I'm feeling out with her hopeful, but truthful, comments...
Lesa of Lesa's Book Critiques, for blogging (and living) through the toughest of times, and inspiring others with her life...

I am sorry this post is so late...It has been a busier day than planned.  I am now two live shots into work, and, as you probably can tell, the lead-in is a little out of date.  Rather than rewrite, I will now hit post...
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Friday, March 12, 2010


When I was little and sitting beside my daddy in church, he used to tell me a story.  It went something like this--
'When I was a boy and would take communion, I remember my grandmother [this writer's great-grandmother] holding the communion cup and bit of bread.  She would then turn to me and say, "If only I had a bit of cheese..."'

Now, that tells you something about my great-grandmother.  It tells you she was a bit feisty, enjoyed wit and humor, and had no problem being irreverent.  And you probably liked her for it.  In fact, she was a fascinating woman.  In Jeannette Hoffman Sims' 20s, she performed in Vaudeville (singing).  Then she married my great-grandfather and had my grandmother (another strong-willed lady), settling in the affluent section of Houston known as River Oaks.  The marriage didn't last, but Grandma Jeanne [that's zh-ahn] did, surviving on wit and strength until the age of 97.  (If she had lived, she would have turned 120 on March 1st.)
I like a little irreverence in my fiction.  Give me some Nelson DeMille any day.  Even former Southern City Mystery guest blogger and author Vincent Zandri throws his weight behind irreverence.  But it is something that must be done tastefully.  And, if overdone, it can turn your reader off completely.

I thought of this during communion on Sunday.  At church, while taking part in a sacred ritual, I was writing this post in my head.  Talk about irreverent!

What about you?  Do you like a bit of the old one-two in your reading?  How about in your writing?  Are you irreverent at times or completely Victorian?
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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Be Back

Today was my first unorthodox fibromyalgia treatment.  If I had known I'd be sitting for two and a half hours and the facility had Wifi, I'd have brought my laptop and blogged earlier.  As it was, I was hooked up to a vitamin IV for 90 minutes and giving copious amounts of blodd for who-knows-what tests for the other hour.  Then, fatigue sent me into a deep sleep during my kids naptime--so, I missed blogging today.  But I'll be back tomorrow with something totally brilliant! :P