Friday, April 29, 2011

Friday Fun - No Work This Week

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


Did you have a favorite?

Any plans for the weekend? 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Sub-genres - Now There's a Mystery

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

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

Romantic Suspense
Young Adult
Single Title

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 25, 2011

Soggy Monday Moaning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 22, 2011

Hairball - A True Story

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now what?

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

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

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

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

Have a wonderful Easter.

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

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stormy Weather

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

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

My grandkids are older.  I'd forgotten.

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

Did I miss anything?

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

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

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

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

Monday, April 18, 2011


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

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

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

Until that form rejection letter arrives.

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

* sigh *

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Oh my Lord, that's awful.)