Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Happy Wednesday.  The halfway point.  After today, it's an easy slide to the weekend.  And here's a little something to help you over the hump.

 These are all actual ads from days gone by.  Just a little mindboggling.  See what you think.

Mr. Rogers asks, "Can you spell sexist?"  Okay, how many of you don't remember Mr. Rogers?

Did you read number four?  Cocaine tooth drops for kids!  Whoa.

Groaner of the day:  A director is screen testing Sylvestor Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger for a new film about classic composers. Not having figured out who to give which part to, he asks Sly who he would like to be.

Stallone says, "I like Mozart. I want to be Mozart."

So the Director says, "Very well, you can be Mozart." Then he turns to Arnie and says, "Arnie, who would you like to play?"

And Arnie says, "Ah'll be Bach!" 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Killer Nashville - Part 1

Ack! It's Monday evening and I'm just getting to the post that was supposed to go up this morning.  I'm blaming my dad, who popped in for an overnight visit yesterday.  Yeah, that's it - I was distracted.  (Hi, Dad.)

There was so much good stuff going on at Killer Nashville, I don't want to tell about it in a rushed post so I'm going to save it until Friday (remember, Wednesday is reserved for Happy Hump Day funnies).

But I can share this... It happened in the parking garage.  Right in our hotel!  At a mystery writers' conference!  What a coincidence!


MURDER at Killer Nashville! 

And we were all called in to help solve the case. We surveyed the crime scene, read the statements, examined the evidence, decided what items should be collected and what tests should be run.  And came up with our own theories as to what happened.

Here's fellow author Kay C. Burns (hi, Cindy).  Is that brain matter?  Our vic was shot in the head.

What do you make of the splatter pattern?  The drag marks?  The partial shoe prints? Do you want to hear about the ski mask and the tire iron and the cell phone we found at the scene?

Well, how did you spend your weekend?

Groaner of the Day:  He was a mediocre conductor of a mediocre orchestra. He especially had problems with the basses; who were known to have a drink or two before a concert.

It was the last performance of the season, Beethoven's 9th Symphony, which had an important bass part near the end.  Just as he was about to cue the basses, the conductor knocked over his music stand. The sheet music scattered.  As he stood in front of his orchestra, his worst fear was realized...

 it was the bottom of the 9th, no score, and the basses were loaded.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Live from Killer Nashville

Is my face red?  No, I'm not embarrassed, I drove to Nashville yesterday with the top down and didn't realize how much sun I was getting.  So people here may remember me as LD Masterson, as Linda Leszczuk, or as Linda the Lobster. (Ouch)

We had a fun mixer last evening playing mystery trivia.  Our team came in last but I loved our consolation prize - a box of band-aids that look like crime scene tape. Then I went out for a bite to eat with some new friends.

Registration is this morning so I'll have more to tell you about the conference on Monday.  I'll try to get caught up on comments on your blogs then, too.  Have a great weekend.

And just to hold you over, here's your...

Groaner of the Day:  A man is out walking on a warm day along the edge of a remote pond. He is on the bank enjoying the view when he suddenly loses his footing and falls into the pond. The water is not deep but he does have to struggle to make it safely back to shore. He climbs out, dripping wet, and notices that his wallet is not in his pocket.

As he ponders the pond, wondering whether he should jump back in and search for his wallet, lo, what wonders appear! As he is looking at the surface of the water, he sees a school of large carp chasing something around.

One carp emerges at water surface and what does he have in its mouth but the guy's wallet! Suddenly another carp appears at the surface and the first carp flips the wallet to the second carp who catches it in his mouth. Then a third fish appears and on and on it goes.

After watching amazed for several hours, he decided to report this strange behaviour to the experts, but they told him it was a well known phenomenon - it is known as carp-to-carp walleting

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Happy Hump Day

Have you ever noticed that a lot of bloggers like to celebrate the end of the week with a Fun Friday post?  I'm one of them.  I usually use Friday to share silly pictures or funnies of some sort. 

But last week it occurred to me, we don't really need funnies on Friday.  Friday is fun all by itself.  TGIF and all that.  When we really need a laugh is Wednesday.  Hump day.  That day you have to get through to be on the downhill slope to the weekend. 

So I'm making a change.  No more Fun Fridays.  From now on, I'm doing Happy Hump Days.

To kick things off I'm sharing some signs that made me laugh.  I hope they do the same for you. 

I really love the last one.

If they gave you a chuckle, leave me a comment.  I get really lonesome if no one comments.

I'll be posting on Friday from the Killer Nashville mystery writers' conference.  I'm all excited.  That reminds me, did I tell you we saw the Pointer Sisters in Vegas last month.  They still put on a heck of a show.

Groaner of the Day: Conversation between two friends
Hey, Joe. How's your new pet fish doing? I heard he was really something special.
To tell you the truth, I'm really disappointed in him. The guy who sold him to me said I could teach him to sing like a bird.

You bought a fish because you thought you could teach him to sing like a bird?

Well, yeah. He's a parrot fish.

I hate to tell you this, but while you might be able to teach a parrot bird to sing, you're never going to get anywhere with a parrot fish.

That's what you think. He sings all the time.  The thing is, he sings off-key and it's driving me crazy. Do you know how hard it is to tuna fish?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Finding the Balance

I'm a note taker.  Workshops, panels, classes, blogs - I try to gather all the bits of useful information I can.  And hopefully, I compile all the bits and pieces into something I can use to become a better writer.

Sounds good, right?

Then I find myself with something like this:

Item 1: Think of your setting like another character, paint a picture, let your reader see, hear, smell, touch, etc. the setting. Take the reader there.

Item 2: Don't bog the story down with too much description.  Every bit of description must move the story forward.


Both of these came from workshops I've attended. And both make sense.  One of the things I love about Nevada Barr's Anna Pidgeon series is the way Barr brings to life the National Parks which are the settings for this series.  But have I read stories where I started skimming over long stretches of description?  Yup.  I bet you have, too.

The key is finding the balance.  The icy drafts, flickering candles, and musty smell in the old mansion are mood setters; the silver and china on the dining room table, not so much. of the silver pieces bears a striking resemblance to the one that was stolen from Great Aunt Matilda at the time of her murder.  Now you're using setting to slip in a clue.  

Bottom line - use setting description to draw your readers into the story, to set the mood, to let them feel they are moving through the story with your characters, and to move the story forward.  But beware of description for description's sake.  No matter how lovely your portrait of the fluffy clouds or beautiful tapestries, if it doesn't serve the story, out it goes. 

As readers and/or writers which do you prefer, more detailed setting descriptions or a simple stage where you can use your imagination to fill in the empty spaces?

Groaner of the Day: Sir Edgbert, Knight of the Realm, was hurrying home on a cold, wet night when suddenly his horse fell down and died. All Sir Edgbert could do was collect his belongings and tramp onwards.

After staggering for a spell, he realizes he will never reach his castle on foot so he heads for the nearest building which, as luck would have it, is a small farm. He strides up to the door, bangs on it and shouts "A horse! I must have a horse!".

The door opens to reveal a young girl. She looks at Sir Edgbert and says, "Your pardon, good knight, but my father and brothers are returning from the village on the other side of the forest and will not be back before noon tomorrow. They are riding all our horses."

"But I must return home immediately," Sir Edgbert tells her.  "Have you any idea where I may secure alternative transportation?"

The young girl says, "I know of no other horses hereabouts, but sometimes my brothers ride our Great Dane when the need arises. Would that help?"

Sir Edgbert is desperate and says, "If I must, I must. Show me the animal."

The young girl leads the way around to the back of the farmhouse to a stable. She dissapears inside and returns leading an enormous dog which is truly large enough for riding. Unfortunately, the dog is also very old. Its coat is patchy, its legs bowed, and it seems to be having trouble breathing.

Sir Edgbert stares at the animal then turns to the girl and says, "Surely, you wouldn't send a knight out on a dog like this?"

Friday, August 19, 2011

Lighten Up on Flawed Logic?

My monthly book club met tonight.  The book we were discussing was a thriller with an element of time travel.  It was a good book; we all enjoyed it.  But I happened to mention a couple logic flaws in the story and I was told that, because it was sci fi or paranormal or whatever, rules of logic didn't apply.

I have a problem with that.  I've always believed that when an author creates any kind of alternate reality, he/she sets the rules for that reality and then has to write the story to fit inside those rules.  This author didn't.  He violated his own rules several times for plot convenience, with no explanation.

I explained that to the group and was told basically to lighten up.  So there were a few holes in his logic.  What difference did it make? It was still an exciting story.

What difference did it make?  Well, it made a difference to me because a couple hours before the meeting I'd been pounding my head against my desk (ouch!) over a logic issue I'd found in my WIP.  I'd inadvertenlty given my protag an easy source for some information in chapter one that she's not suppose to find until chapter three.   It took me quite a while to come up with a feasible solution and it's going to take re-writing several scenes to fix it.  But why go to the trouble when all these regular mystery readers don't care.  When they all shrugged and asked what difference did it make?

What difference does it make?  As a reader or as a writer, do you think having a few mistakes in logic is okay as long as the story is exciting and fun to read?  How many is too many?  Please weigh in on this one.  I'm really interested.

Favor for a Friend:
Many of you know my buddy, Maria Zannini, is in the running for a  Book Cover Award for The Devil to Pay.  Maria designed the cover herself and it's great.  If you haven't already done so, please take a minute to hop over to this site and give her your vote.  (The voting is on the upper right side of the page.)  I'd really appreciate it.

Personal Note:
I just need to say a couple words here.  Later today I'm going to the memorial service for my daughter in law's mom, Linda Cover.  Linda was a woman of extraordinary courage who faced adversity with style and grace. She was the kind of person the world needs more of and she will be sorely missed.

It seems almost inappropreate to follow that with my usual groaner, but so many of you said you enjoyed Wednesday's and Linda was also a person of laughter so I don't think she'll mind.

Groaner of the Day:
Once upon a time there were two canaries in a cage, one male and one female.

After a few days together, the male decided to meet the female. He scooted over to her side of the cage and said, "Since we're in this together, why don't I move over to your side of the cage!"

The female canary replied, "No, thank you."

The male went back to his side of the cage but after a while decided to try again.  He hopped over to her side of the cage and said, "I am sorry I was so forward before. Why don't we get to know each other first."

To which she replied again, "No, thank you."

Feeling very shot down, he languished about for a bit then made one final effort. "Well, could we at least talk?"

This time she replied, "I'm sorry if I seem mean. But I just learned I have a canarial disease called, "Chirpies" and I'm afraid it's untweetable."

(forgive me)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Welcome to my Brand New Blog

You made it!

That is, I'm guessing the only visitors I get today will be friends who have followed me over from my Linda Leszczuk blog.  Thanks for finding me.

I've learned a lot about moving from one blog to another in the last couple days.  Most of it the hard way.  Did you know you can export all your posts from one blog and import them into another?  Yup - they come right over.  Unfortunately, your template, graphics, formatting, and anything in your sidebars or widgets will not make the trip. 

You can bring along all the blogs you follow by uploading them to Google Reader and doing the export/import thing from there, which made me very happy because I didn't want to lose any of you.

But as you can tell from my almost empty Followers list (thank you, Maria!), I'm starting over at square one.  Please add your smiling face so I won't feel too lonely.

This blog is definitely a work in progress so please offer your comments and suggestions.  I won't mind a bit if you point out typos or glitches.  And please say hi, just so I know you were here.

One other thing, when you see my smiling face attached to a comment on your blog, please remember that it's me.  Leszczuk or Masterson, I'm still me.

And to prove it, here's your...

Groaner of the Day:  A man walks into a doctor's office and asks the doctor to inspect his leg. The man says, "Here, put your ear to my knee."

The doctor puts his ear to the man's knee and hears very faintly, "Come on, can I have five bucks, just five bucks?"

The doctor steps back in surprise and the man says, "I know, but it gets worse. Put your ear to my shin."

The doctor puts his ear to the man's shin and hears very faintly, "Come on, can I have ten bucks, just ten bucks?"

Once again, the doctor stands up, very perplexed. The man then says, "If that surprises you, put your ear to my ankle."

The doctor puts his ear to the man's ankle and hears oh so faintly, "Come on, can I have twenty bucks, just twenty bucks?"

The doctor then stands up and says, "Well, I can I make just one conclusion. Your leg is broke in three places."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Who Am I? (I Need Your Help) - Part 1

As I mentioned in last Monday's post, I had a great time a few weeks ago at the Public Safety Writers' Association conference.  I even had an opportunity to speak with two publishers (honest, real live publishers).  They both had some very encouraging things to say about my WIP but both also offered the same piece of advice: don't publish under the name Linda Leszczuk.  Leszczuk is just too difficult to spell, pronounce, remember, etc.

Okay.  This isn't really a new thought.  When I first started this blog, I slipped in a subheader "aka LD Masterson".  Registered both domain names for my web site, as well.  But during the past year I've rather let the LD Masterson fall into the background and most everyone knows me as Linda Leszczuk.  So I've got some re-branding to do.

You'll notice I've already reversed the names on the header and changed my web site link.  I've made all the necessary changes to my web site and set up a new e-mail,  Now comes the tricky part.  I'm going to change my blog URL and my Google account name to LD Masterson.  I have no idea what that will do to my Followers (Google promises to redirect everyone to the new address but...) and I DO NOT want to lose anyone.  Or should that be, I do not want anyone to lose me?

So here's that "help" part.  When you see this post, please leave me a comment and let me know you've seen it.  Then on Wednesday, please look for me again.  If I'm not in the usual place, please hunt for me at  (I can't make this a link because it's not a valid address yet.)  Then leave me a comment again and let me know how you found me. 

I really appreciate everyone's help on this.  The idea of starting over at square one is just too disheartening.  I'm also making a list of all the blogs I follow in case they don't make it to my new blog site.  I don't want to lose you either.

Once the new blog connections are in place, I'll be attacking my Facebook page.

In case you're wondering, Masterson is my maiden name. The "Leszczuk" came along with my husband when I got married.  What can I say?  I was in love.

Groaner of the Day:  It turns out that the "Old King Cole" of nursery rhyme fame is loosely based on a 14th century ruler.

The slightly mad monarch is best known for his decree that the entire fiefdom's crop of lettuce be diced and drenched in mayonnaise.

He called it, of course, Cole's Law.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Signs of the Times?

Well, this is not an impressive start.  First week back and I'm late with my Friday post.  As usual, I'm going with Friday silly stuff but I will give you a preview of coming attractions.  Based on conversations I had with a couple publishers at the PSWA conference (real live publishers - honest), I've got a major change in the works.  I'm going to tell you all about it on Monday.  Please stop back then.

For today - just some signs seen around the office.  Enjoy.

You gotta love that last one. Anything free.

Have a great weekend.  See you Monday.

I'm Currently Enjoying: The Help by Katheryn Stockett...which I started while following the kids from roller coaster to roller coaster (see Wednesday's post) and finished at 4:30 this morning, which is why this post is late.  This is a really excellent book.

Groaner of the Day:  There was a Russian man named Rudolph, a high ranking member of the KGB. One evening Rudolph and his wife were walking along and it began to snow.

"My, look at the lovely snow," said his wife.

"No, that is not snow, that is rain." replied Rudolph.

"No, this is snow," she said.

"Look, there is a palace guard, we will ask him." Rudolph went to the palace guard and asked, "Is it raining or snowing?"

The guard was no dummy.  "What do YOU think it is doing?"

Rudolph replied, "Raining."

The guard said, "Yes, Comrade, I was going to say raining, also."

So Rudolph and his wife went walking off.  The guard could just barely hear the KGB official say:
"Rudolph, the Red, knows rain, dear."
(I'm sorry.  I just can't help myself.)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Not If My Life Depended On It

Pubic school here starts next Monday.  This feels very early to me but then, I'm old.  When I was in school we never started before Labor Day.  Of course, we also rode dinosuars to school so I guess things change.

What doesn't seem to have changed is that end of summer vacation panic when you realize there's less than a week to do all the things with the kids - or in my case, grandkids - that you promised them back in June.  This is why I'm spending today trailing behind my grandson and his friend all over our local mega-amusement park.  Roller coaster heaven.

I'm not really into roller coasters.  I don't see the point of standing in line for three hours for a three minute ride that will make me throw up.  I mean, if I want to be scared to death, I can open a newspaper and read the latest from Washington.  Or as a writer, the latest news about bookstore closings. Really, why would I want to be scared?

But wait...I read mysteries.  And thrillers.  Stories designed to put my hair on end and tie my stomach in knots.  The scarier the better.  So what does that make me?  An armchair roller coaster rider?

What about you?  Do you like being scared?  Do you prefer screaming your head off on a fast moving ride or the delicious creepy terror of a really good book?

Guess what I'll be doing today while the boys are standing in those three hour lines waiting for a three minute scream?  Yup.  I'll be on a nearby bench...with a really good book.

I'm Currently Enjoying:  The Bogey Man by Marja McGraw

Groaner of the Day:  A man goes into a bar and orders a beer. He takes a sip of the beer and a small voice says "Nice Tie."

The man looks around and doesn't see anyone. A little puzzled he takes another sip.  This time the voice says, "Nice shirt, too".

Now the man calls the bartender back and complains that everytime he takes a sip of beer he hears a small voice.

The bartender says, "Oh, never mind that. That's just the peanuts, they're complimentary."

Monday, August 8, 2011

Alas, Poor Yorick...

I'm baaaaack.  Did you miss me?  (Someone please lie and say yes.)

I have so much I'd like to share it's hard to know where to begin.  First, a news flash:

I've finished my first draft on my WIP and started re-writes and edits.  Okay, it's nowhere near finished - lots of additions and changes to do - but I did get to type those beautiful words: The End.  Can I get a Woo Woo?

Next, I'd like to back up a bit and say a few words about the Public Safety Writers Association conference I attended last month.  It was great. In addition to some excellent sessions on writing, we learned about fires, forensics, police psychology, going undercover, and "How TV and Movies Get It Wrong."  Love NCIS?  Sorry, in reality there is no Ducky or Abby - NCIS doesn't have it's own morgue or lab.  (I was crushed.)

I'm going to devote a few posts later to sharing some of what I learned there but for now, I'd like to introduce a new friend.

In one of our sessions we got to examine this skull which was found thirty years ago in the desert.  What can we learn from a well-dried skull?  You'd be surprised.  This one had three bullet holes in it.  I guessed it was probably a homicide.  (I'm so bright.)

I'm also starting blog-following again but I've got a lot of catching up to do so please forgive me if I don't do any commenting for a bit.

I've missed you all.  It's good to be back.

I'm currently enjoying:  Just finished The Ballad of Johnny Madigan by John A. Bray

Groaner of the Day: A young man had been working as a bag boy in a supermarket for several years.

One day the supermarket got new orange juice machines.

The bag boy was excited and asked the manager if he could work the juice machines.

The manager turned him down.

The bag boy said, "But I've been working here for five years. Why can't I run the juice machines?"

The manager said, "I'm sorry, but baggers can't be juicers."

(Now see how you've missed me.)