Saturday, June 16, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapters Twelve & Thirteen

Welcome back for more Biff and Mary! (previous chapters can be viewed here)

This chapter, we will continue the usual Biff-and-Mary shallow shenanigans accompanied by excessive description and utter silliness. Also, you will note an example of extremely unnatural, poorly punctuated and just-plain-bad dialogue in the beginning of Chapter 13. 

I stumbled upon a similar butchering of character conversation in a book I read recently, and the result -- specifically, my cringing in utter horror -- was something I thought best shared, so you are very welcome!  ;)

(Seriously, though -- please, please, I beg of you! -- don't ever write dialogue like this!)

Chapter 12: Wherein Biff Battles Boxes

Mary felt the soft pressure of Biff’s lips on hers and ran her hands up his shoulders and around his neck. The moment she inched her fingers up and into his hair, Biff pulled back suddenly.
“Biff? Is something wrong?”
“No, no, of course not,” Biff said, smiling as he patted down his hair, checking to be sure it was in place. 
Mary realized their moment had passed and decided that the best thing to do was change the subject.
“Do you think we should try to get started on these boxes, Biff?”  She gestured at the various piles of cardboard cartons that graced the room.
Biff smiled. “Of course!  In fact…” his voice trailed off as he walked back toward the front door to where The Poopsie Incident had occurred. He paused en route, checking his reflection in the mirror and combing his hand through his hair briefly before retrieving his leather satchel, which matched the belt he wore and was lying on the tile where he’d dropped it.  He brought it back to Mary.
“I discussed the box issue with Tony, our estate handyman, and he assured me that all I would need is…” Biff rummaged through the contents of the satchel, mumbling in frustration. “Now where is that….I know it’s in there…darn it!”  Finally, he gave up and kneeled on the floor, dumping the entire contents of the satchel onto the tiles. 
            As she viewed the contents of Biff’s satchel, Mary felt a moment of surprise as she realized that there were certainly some areas of grooming at which Biff excelled and, in fact, far surpassed her in terms of dedication.
            Spread out on the blue tiles was a brush, three different sized combs in blue, black and brown, a small bottle of Paul Mitchell Sculpting & Styling Glaze, a bottle of the same brand Unisex Flexible Hold Spray, and a small jar of Paul Mitchell for Men’s Medium-hold/Semi-Matte Styling Cream. Mary also spied a tube of dry shampoo and a travel-sized ceramic straightener. As she opened her mouth to ask the brand name of the straightener (she’d been looking for a new one herself), Biff swept aside the styling glaze and grabbed a small metal item. “Aha! There it is!”
“What is it, Biff?”
He quickly shoved all the hair products back into his satchel, rose from the floor and opened his hand. Nestled in his palm was a metal object, approximately four inches in length, with a sharp-looking blade protruding from one end.
“Tony gave it to me. It’s a box cutter!”
Biff used his other hand to push down a small screw on the side of the object, causing the sharp blade to extend further.
“See? The blade will open boxes quite easily, I understand.”
Mary reached out a hand toward the box cutter, but Biff drew it away with a small shake of his head.
“No, Mary. I think it best if I handle the box cutter myself. Tony showed me how to use it, and I wouldn’t want you to be harmed; it’s a Very Dangerous Tool.”
Mary nodded her head in solemn understanding.
“Well, where do you think we should start, Biff?”
The pair looked around the room and Biff knelt down by the nearest box. “Why not here?” he said, with one of those heart-stopping grins that always made Mary swoon.
With that, he reached out with the box cutter and sliced through the packing tape that sealed it. He then opened the flaps of the box and looked up at Mary triumphantly.
Mary clapped her hands together.  “Biff, you did it! How wonderful!”
She knelt beside him and together they began removing the contents of the box, which turned out to be mostly Mary’s copies of Vogue and People magazines, as well as her two favorite books: Fabulous Fashion for Refined Young Ladies, and Makeup Secrets of the Stars, 1955-2010.
Mary and Biff started making neat piles on the floor as they emptied the box, although both were soon distracted and Mary began flipping the pages of Makeup Secrets while Biff thumbed through a copy of Vogue.  However, Mary soon realized that at this rate, they would never accomplish what they intended, so she opened her mouth to interrupt Biff’s perusal of the article “Armani or Prada: How to Choose?, but the sound of the doorbell broke in at just that moment.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book Review: The Malorie Phoenix by Janet Mullany

Title:  The Malorie Phoenix
Author: Janet Mullany
Publisher:  TKA Distribution
Pub Date:  April 24, 2012
ISBN:  9781937776299

I enjoyed Janet Mullany’s novel, Improper Relations, so I was thrilled to be able to read and review The Malorie Phoenix.
Because I am apparently too lazy to summarize today, I’ll begin with the marketing copy/blurb provided by the publisher:

She plays a deadly game, but nothing is as dangerous as love. Benedict de Malorie, Earl of Trevisan, can never forget the masked woman he met one night at a London pleasure garden. The clever pickpocket stole his heart and his family's prized jewel - the Malorie Phoenix. But the family treasure reappears in Benedict's darkest hour, returned by its thief, along with the unexpected gift of his infant daughter.Believing that she is dying, Jenny Smith leaves her daughter in the custody of the baby's blueblood father. Seven years later she finds herself in good health and alone, yearning for her only child. To raise enough money to support them both, she takes part in a daring escapade that requires her to impersonate a woman of quality. She fools the ton and Benedict himself.When Jenny finds herself entangled in a murderous plot against Benedict, the father of her child, her carefully laid plans begin to fall apart. All she wants is her daughter back, but she never thought she'd fall in love with Benedict. Revealing her part in the plot means she will almost certainly lose Benedict and their daughter forever. But continuing to play her role puts them all in terrible danger.

Jenny and Benedict couldn’t be more different. Benedict, raised to be Earl of Trevisan, could never know what life was like for Jenny, whose circumstances lead her to steal merely to survive. Their initial attraction is something that both of them act on without thinking, although they each fully believe their liaison will never go further than that one night in the gardens of Vauxhall.

Jenny Smith is a refreshingly unconventional Regency heroine. She has the guts to make her own decisions and stand by them, beginning with that choice to toss caution to the wind and act on her attraction to Benedict. She consistently trusts her instincts while doing whatever is necessary to ensure her future and her child's. She doesn't apologize for her past or the choices she makes, even when circumstances become challenging.

As for Benedict, he is equally likable. A good man who tries to always do the right thing, he is portrayed as an involved, exceptional father and his scenes with daughter Sarah are warm and touching. Mullany skillfully shows the depth of that father/daughter relationship as well as the progression of Jenny’s understanding of it; while she initially wants to get her daughter back no matter the cost, she quickly realizes how devoted Benedict and Sarah are to one another. Combined with her own evolving feelings, her choices are not quite so easy anymore.

The progression of the romance is realistic, although some aspects of the plot are less so.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Get the DIRT: June 7, 2012

It's another Do It Right Thursday!

I've been digging around for informative and fun sites and resources. Hope you find these links helpful! :)

Writer's community.  Articles and resources are available to all.
Exclusive to members ($40/year membership) is a discussion forum, critique section, short story contests, video library,

Another website I stumbled upon, this one run by writer Beth Mende Conny, which offers articles and resources for writers. Includes articles focusing on the writing process with practical tips as well as some articles categorized as "Inspiration," which might be just the thing to help you through a moment of writer's block. :)

Wake Up Writing
Daily writing prompts. Although the site hasn't been updated since April, archives go back to 2002, so there are bound to be prompts that inspire you.

Very popular, so you may already know this one. If not, definitely check it out for all kinds of info from the mechanics of writing to pitching your novel.

I haven't tested this one too thoroughly yet, but it seems a valid gateway to legitimate resources. Could be helpful when doing novel research.

"The Snowflake Method"
I've been looking into how to create effective outlines, since I haven't really tried using one since my college days.  Here, author Randy Ingermanson presents an interesting approach to organizing and outlining a novel.

"How to Outline (The Easy Way) Like Janet Evanovich"
From Writer's Knowledge Base, another approach: Writer's Digest explains author Evanovich's outline process, complete with storyboard example.

That's it for this week, but please feel free to add any helpful links you may have in the comments.

And be sure to stop by this weekend -- I'll have a new book review up as well as another installment of Biff and Mary.  :)

Image courtesy of

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapter Eleven

Welcome to the next chapter of Biff and Mary! 

(please click here for all previous chapters)

Today's installment will include our usual shallow-but-lovable characters, extraneous description, and unnecessary and unfortunate alliteration. It will also serve as an example of  an ill-advised authorial decision to build an entire chapter out of one very brief moment -- but hopefully with a bit of humor as well.  ;)

Hope you enjoy! 

Chapter Eleven:  In Which There Are Screams, Stumbles, and Stubbornly Stuck Posteriors

It occurred to Mary that she had never heard quite such an exceedingly high-pitched tone emanate from Biff’s roguishly handsome lips before. 

The sound that escaped her beloved as Poopsie’s perfectly white, perfectly sharp canines punctured the pad of his thumb reminded her briefly of the piercingly shrill sounds of the first grade playground at Mayfield Elementary, when she and the other six-year-old girls made a game of trying to shriek as loudly as they could. She’d won most of those squealing contests, she recalled, but hearing Biff now she wondered whether she’d overestimated her own elocutionary talents.

As the sound of Biff’s involuntary scream faded, Mary shook herself out of her shock and dismay enough to stumble two steps backward with her suddenly ferocious pup. Regrettably, one of her many unpacked boxes sat approximately one and one half steps behind her and thus the result of her movement caused her to fall unceremoniously backward, and her backside wedged firmly inside the now-broken top of the box, cushioned by the various sheets, towels and fripperies within. She had barely a moment to be grateful that she’d landed in the linens box, rather than the one containing her grandmother’s crystal, before Poopsie darted from her arms.  Mary let out her own startled scream, immediately realizing that it didn’t even come close to the high pitch and duration of Biff’s, but deciding that perhaps it didn’t matter, considering her precious pup’s peril and the precariously perched position of her posterior.

What did matter, she soon realized, was that the moment she tripped, Biff intuitively moved toward her to attempt to break her fall, and Poopsie elected to continue her proactive efforts to protect Mary from the intruder by charging toward Biff’s feet with a ferocious and determined little snarl, clamping onto the hem of his fashionably expensive relaxed vintage blue jeans from Banana Republic.  Much to Mary’s chagrin, Biff instinctively shook her off, and her little Poopsie took flight across the misty green ceramic tiled foyer floor, spinning around in a blur of pastel pink fluff until she came to a stop in the corner by the door, her landing cushioned by the small pile of newspapers Mary had placed there prior to taking them out to the recycling bin.

The brief, sudden silence that ensued was broken by all three of them simultaneously, with Poopsie’s yelp of surprise overshadowed at once by Biff’s horrified exclamation of “Good Heavens! Is she all right?” and Mary’s equally horrified shriek of “Poopsie! My baby!” 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Get the DIRT: May 31, 2012

Welcome to another Do It Right Thursday!

((**By the way, for those who are interested, a new Biff and Mary chapter will be up in the next couple of days, so stay tuned!**))

Today, I have a mix of both writing-related and just-for-fun links.

Please feel free to share your own links in the comments as well.
Enjoy! :)

  • Literary agent Rachelle Gardner's site has been bookmarked on my laptop for quite a while now. She offers tons of advice about publishing, finding an agent, marketing your book and much more. Frequent guest bloggers with great advice, too. 
  • What Should I Read Next? This is a fun site to try out. Just type in the name of a book or author you like and it generates suggestions for other books you may enjoy. 
  • I haven't looked over this one thoroughly yet, but it seems an interesting idea. Their tagline is: "Writing Community for Writers, Readers, Literary Agents. Submit Works, Read & Rate Writing."Webook, where writers submit pages for critique and ratings, and are subsequently elevated through "rounds." They have writing challenges and literary agent input. Does anyone have any experience with this?  If so, did you find it helpful?
  • Colleen Lindsay's site, The Swivet, offers lots of worthwhile stuff and though this particular post is a couple of years old, it still acts as a great guide to word counts for novels.
  • I always have a hard time finding photos or clipart that I can be sure of using freely, but I've found a good resource in You can purchase the photos, but for most purposes they allow you to use them in return for a same-page link wherever the pictures are posted. I've been using them here as well as on my Practical Pen site.
  • Regrettably, I have completely forgotten where I first saw this site recommended or I would credit accordingly, but do check out Sporcle for quick, often challenging trivia and word games. Each game is only a few minutes long, so you don't need to feel guilty about "wasting time." ;)
  • Maybe it's because it seems so rare these days, but I really love hearing about people and organizations who go out of their way to just do something nice, don't you? I know that this one has been linked to in many places, but if you missed it, be sure to check out this story:  "Blue Ear": Marvel Comics does a good thing...  
  • And I included the next one because...well, just because. Trust me - it's fun! :)

Happy Almost-Friday!
Be sure to drop by this weekend to check out a new chapter of Biff and Mary!

Photo courtesy of

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Get the DIRT

Welcome to D.I.R.T!

Thursday!  :)

In my never-ending search for information about writing, editing, publishing, etc., I come across many helpful sites, so I've decided to share a few links that might help all of us "Do It Right"....or at least, learn how to do all this writing stuff better. :)

Preditors & Editors and Absolute Write are among the most well-respected sources of information re: writing and publishing scams. Be sure to check in with these sites before proceeding with any independent publisher or writing-related service.  Both also provide many more helpful links.

Miss Snark's First Victim is a great site to visit for information about querying. The blog owner, "Authoress," also holds periodic "Secret Agent" contests, where manuscript samples can be submitted and often critiqued/viewed by agents.

Query Shark is another informative site focusing on writing your query.

Pick up some really useful tips with Grammar Girl: Quick and Dirty Tips

If, like me, you've found it a little challenging to pull together a resume that showcases your writing rather than your "day jobs," Creating a Freelance Writer's Resume is a nice article with some tips on putting together a resume with an emphasis on writing skills.

The EFA / Editorial Freelancers Association is a great resource to check out when you are looking for a proofreader or editor or, like me, are embarking on your own editorial venture.  A rate chart is provided which offers a range of rates for editorial work and can help you know what to expect when you search for your own proofreader or editor. Lots of other interesting and helpful info, too.

Writer's Digest  has lots of great articles and interviews. A "must visit" for any writer or aspiring writer.

Well, there are a few to get us started.  Hope these links are helpful to you!

Do you know of any great writing-related sites?  Feel free to share in the comment section.

Savvy Authors - thank you to nightsmusic for this addition to the list. A great writers-helping-writers site with  endless information. Definitely worth a look!

 Image courtesy of

Friday, May 18, 2012

Book Review: Getting Married and Other Mistakes

Title:  Getting Married and Other Mistakes
Author: Barbara Slate
Publisher:  Other Press
Pub Date:  June 12, 2012
ISBN:  9781590515358

It can be argued that those who can retain a sense of humor in the face of heartbreak and disillusionment get through it better than most, and Barbara Slate demonstrates just that in her graphic novel, Getting Married and Other Mistakes.

Slate’s book is filled with moments many women will be able to identify with. Her protagonist, Jo, is devastated when her marriage suddenly disintegrates, and somewhat surprised that her ensuing depression doesn’t seem to have anything to do with missing her soon-to-be ex-husband.  What follows is an affecting journey of self-discovery in which she tries to face herself honestly and find her true voice.

Casual Friday

To get a head start on a (hopefully!) relaxing weekend, here are some links and videos, just for fun. Enjoy!

~  Check out these crazy and unusual book designs. Amazingly creative ways to multi-purpose a book.

~ There is such a thing as a little too much go, girl! An Impossible Love

~ Now, here's something you don't see every day.  Puppies from Heaven...

~ Hysterical. I dare you not to laugh! :)    Best of Funny Talking Animals

~ Love this kid's voice. The original is a lot of fun, but this is so different it's amazing and I think I like it better!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapters 9 and 10

Welcome back for another installment of Biff and Mary!
Sorry for the delay in posting new chapters...
For those who want to start from the beginning, click the "Biff and Mary" tab above, or here: Biff and Mary
As usual, within this next chapter we will be treated to our beloved TSTL heroine’s every vapid thought, Biff’s general buff-ness, and excessive description of every little thing.  You may also notice some really poor transitioning, run-on sentences and unfortunate alliteration.
Enjoy! J

Chapter 9: In Which Brunch is Served and Boxes are Contemplated

When we last left our lovebirds, Biff was professing his affection for Mary over a table at Bart’s Bistro, leaning toward her with obvious intent…

A pale, freckled arm with four silver bracelets clanking at the wrist unceremoniously inserted itself between Biff and Mary, placing a basket of rolls and butter between them and causing Biff to settle back into his seat.
Mary swallowed back her disappointment as well as her annoyance at the timing of the wrist’s owner, their server Lorraine. She smiled at her politely instead.
“Your salads’ll be right up,” Lorraine announced, spinning quickly on her heel to head back toward the kitchen, the damage done.
Biff cleared his throat politely and reached for the basket, holding it out to Mary.  She declined and smiled at him winningly, wondering how to recapture that romantic moment so suddenly and sadly interrupted. She stole another glance at Biff, studiously setting her gaze below his blemished brow in order to fully appreciate the view, then sighed with resignation, unrolled her beige linen napkin and set it on her lap in preparation for her Caesar Salad.
The following morning, Mary woke early and went immediately to the shower to prepare for her unpacking day with her beloved beau, Biff.
She washed her hair with Paul Mitchell Extra Body Daily Shampoo, followed by Paul Mitchell Extra Body Daily Rinse, and sudsed up her loofah with Origins Fresh Waterlily Bodybar, then washed and shaved with her Daisy razor. 
Once finished in the shower, she was toweling off leisurely when she heard a tiny yelp from outside the bathroom door.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.”
~ Washington Irving

Happy Mother's Day!

Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Another Adventure Begins...

I am very pleased and excited to announce that my proofreading service is up and running and ready to book assignments!

The Practical Pen
Proofreading Services for the Pragmatic Writer

I am offering proofreading services for everything from manuscripts to professional marketing materials and resumes. Rates are set at a very affordable level, and I am currently offering a 10% discount for all projects booked by May 31, 2012.

Thank you for indulging me in a little self-promotion here, and I hope you will take a moment to check out my new website at It's still evolving, but most information is there and any comments/feedback would be welcome!

Have a great weekend!  :)

Image courtesy of

Friday, April 27, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapter 8

Welcome back for more Biff and Mary!
Hope this chapter provides an amusing start to your weekend! J

(For those who'd like to read from the beginning, click the "Biff and Mary" tab above, or click here )

We last left our effusively extravagant and extremely obtuse protagonists at the proverbial cliff’s edge, as Mary – basking in the relief of a Hurricane finally named Bruce – awaits the rest of Biff’s question…

Chapter 8:  In Which Mary and Biff Converse on Very Important Subjects

Mary felt her heart stop.  
It started beating again almost instantly, to her great relief, but before that happened it felt as though it had stopped and dropped directly into her stomach.  Her memories of fourth-grade basic human anatomy studies assured her that this was more than likely not possible, but still it felt that way, and filled her mind momentarily with a curious vision of her heart sharing space next to her forthcoming Caesar Salad and Tiramisu, sloshing around with espresso and mineral water and a dollop of whipped cream, but happily this disturbing image vanished quickly as the reality of Biff’s intriguing words sank into her brain (which luckily hadn’t dropped anywhere, as yet. As far as she knew.).
Biff’s voice broke into her anatomical meanderings and she shook her head to clear it.
“Uh, yes, Biff.  What was it that you wanted to ask me?” she said, as calmly as she could.
Could this be IT? she wondered.  Could this be the moment she had dreamed of since she’d played with her Barbie and Ken dolls and their Town House, Camper and sporty convertible of undetermined make and model so long ago? Could Biff be asking her THE question?  She glanced down at her nails, vaguely wishing she’d chosen a different color at the salon, because the plum color simply wouldn’t set off the shining grandeur of a…
Her thoughts cut off abruptly once more as Biff cleared his throat nervously, looking uncharacteristically lacking in confidence as he shifted his gaze to the table.
“Well, I wanted to ask you if…er…that is, if you would consider….”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapters 6 and 7

For those who'd like to read from the beginning, I've added a separate page which contains the entire story up to this point (check navigation bar, above, or click here).  I will add to it each time I post an update.Again, I feel the need to point out that this is merely my own little humorous exercise in "What Not to Do," shared for mutual laughs, and not meant to be considered Serious Writing by any means! ;)Welcome back for more Biff and Mary!Hope you enjoy today's chapters! :)

Chapter 6: Wherein Biff Befriends Bitsy

Mary leapt up from her seat as her friend drew near, drawing her into a warm hug before turning toward Biff, who had risen in a gentlemanly fashion, as one did when a woman approached one’s table, if one had been raised right. 
“Biff, meet Bitsy Buffington, my best friend from Buffalo!”
She turned to Bitsy.  “Bitsy, my beau, Biff!”
Biff grasped Bitsy’s hand with a firm-but-definitely-not-too-firm amount of pressure, as was appropriate when a man was introduced to a woman.  “A pleasure, Miss Buffington.”
“Oh, please call me Bitsy!” she said, “Everyone does!”
Bitsy was petite and poised, and enveloped in a tasteful ensemble consisting of a pink and white pinstriped linen skirt with four one-inch rose-colored buttons at the side, its hem approximately two and one-half inches above her knees, topped by a lightweight cashmere sweater set in Powder Pink, purchased at Prudence’s Practical Petites Boutique in Poughkeepsie, finished with two-inch heeled matching pumps and tasteful teardrop pearl earrings. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Biff and Mary, Chapters 4 and 5

Welcome back for another episode of "The Amorous Adventures of Biff and Mary"!

(Note:  As much of this is already written, I will be updating frequently, as time allows, though not on a regular schedule. Please feel free to check back or subscribe for new posts!

Need to catch up?  Previous chapters:

Introducing Biff and Mary

Biff and Mary, Chapters 2 and 3

Hope to bring a smile to your face today! :)

Chapter 4: Mary’s Journey Toward the Bistro Continues…

When we last checked in with our devoted and descriptive duo, poor blemished Biff was preparing for brunch and our exceptionally ensembled Mary was breathlessly awaiting his response to her enigmatic statement about unpacking boxes…

Mary switched her cell phone to her right hand and used her left to push the button on her door, closing her windows to block out the cacophony of blowing horns emanating from the Toyota, the Chrysler, the GMC and the Volkswagon, which had now been joined by a Mustang and a Prius. She was determined to stay right where she was, knowing that her beloved beau, Biff, deserved her undivided attention and certain that if she had a moment (or two…or possibly three) to devote to explaining her various dilemmas to the crowd of motorists behind her, they would surely understand and would very happily wait until she was ready to drive again.  This thought brought about an overall feeling of solidarity and companionship with her new friends in the post office parking lot and she spared a moment to look over her shoulder at the line of cars behind her to offer them her most grateful and dazzling Crest White Strips smile, perfectly set off by the careful outlining of her lips in Cover Girl Long Wear Lipstick in Coquettish Coral and finished off with a precisely choreographed wave, flawlessly emulating that of Her Majesty The Queen, who had waved so beautifully to the crowds of well-wishers at the wedding of her grandson, Prince William, to the lovely and fashionable Kate Middleton.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Biff and Mary: Chapters 2 and 3

Welcome back for more adventures in the shallow-yet-extremely-well-detailed lives of Biff and Mary!

(Catch up on previous chapter first: Biff and Mary, Chapter 1)

Please note:  "The Amorous Adventures of Biff and Mary" are written for fun and as an extreme exaggeration of certain tropes and habits in over-thought and overly-descriptive writing.  I am in no way serious, nor am I basing any of this on anything or anyone.  Just hoping to give you a laugh today!  :)

Chapter 2: Wherein Mary Makes Her Way to Her Car and Enters It:

When we last saw Mary, our blonde heroine in a polyester/cotton blend periwinkle dress with matching shoes and earrings was contemplating lawn slugs, dings in her Honda Civic, and the horrific possibility of her beau, Biff, soon becoming known as Balding Hurricane Biff with a Blighting Blemish...we join her now, on the front walk, approximately one minute and twelve seconds after we left her...

Mary turned 142 degrees to her left before proceeding down the sidewalk, which had several weeds growing in between at least twenty-four of the one hundred and two bricks of which it was made. As she walked she noticed a bird flying above her. She squinted in order to discern its type, and found that it was a robin, though she could not tell whether or not it was male or female. She paused to consider following the bird, because of course knowing whether or not the bird she'd glanced at was a male or a female was of the utmost importance today, as she was due to meet Biff for brunch at Bart's Bistro and if she should decide to relate the occurrence to Biff, he was sure to want all of the details....She watched the bird alight and then hop from branch to branch on the large oak tree in the yard but soon shrugged her slender, periwinkle-clad shoulders and decided that like her, Biff would likely be too preoccupied with possibility of the "B" hurricane, as well as the unfortunate blemish between his perfectly groomed, thick, blonde-but-not-light-brown eyebrows, to want to hear about the bird of unknown gender at all. A frown, which at this stage in her hitherto un-Botoxed life consisted of merely three two-inch creases and one 3/4 inch wrinkle near the bridge of her nose, appeared slightly above her sculpted, light brown-but-not-blond-and-certainly-not-red eyebrows as she momentarily contemplated the calamities that had befallen both her and her beau Biff in so short a span of time, what with the blemish, the hurricane, the lawn slugs and the car ding, all seeming to overwhelm them at once and thus threatening their otherwise flawless and surely fated love.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Introducing Biff and Mary: Chapter 1

Quite some time ago, a good friend and I were discussing writing and the subject of adjective overuse came up. This led to a light-hearted chat about some common mistakes we all tend to make when we first begin writing creatively, specifically the prevalence of excess description, too-perfect heroes and heroines, and just basic "over-writing."

Just for fun, I started a mini story about a couple named Biff and Mary, whose new romance is often sadly overshadowed by extraneous detail.  Their mutual shallowness is only rivaled by the abundance of unnecessary drama in their lives...not to mention the superfluous ellipses.

I thought it would be fun to share Biff and Mary's romance with all of you and so, without further ado (though I might warn you that this will be the last time anything having to do with Biff and Mary will be done without any further ado), I introduce to you the pleasantly perfect, perfectly matched and excessively exhaustive Biff and Mary:

Chapter 1:  Mary Steps Through the Door

Mary ran a hand through the ends of her shoulder-length, pale blonde hair, which she had just had tinted by her stylist last Tuesday, and had run a brush through twenty minutes earlier, before pulling it back into a purple and yellow scrunchy approximately three inches up from the nape of her neck. She shut the dark green, painted pine front door with two scratches on the brass knob, which matched the oval-shaped brass door knocker (which did not have any scratches that she knew of), and stepped off the brick step onto the grass, which was a mixture of Kentucky bluegrass and weeds, and had a few bald spots caused by slugs, for which she'd called the Loversville Landscape Company, who were due to arrive the following day at precisely 8:15 am, barring traffic caused by any unforseen traffic events or delays in line at the coffee shop.

Her thoughts wandered to the evening before, when Biff had kissed her. His hair, which was a lovely sun-kissed blond with approximately 23 darker streaks mixed in, which she had yet to determine were natural or the result of an expert colorist, had blown around slightly in the breeze caused by the cold front coming in from the south, which they both hoped wouldn't turn into a hurricane force wind, because the next hurricane was due to be named with a "B" and for all Mary knew it would be named "Biff" and she would forever associate the love of her life and his perfectly-shaded hair with a devastating windstorm...

And when Biff had grasped her deeply moisturized and expertly-blushed-by-Maybelline face between his well-manicured hands and kissed her in the possibly-soon-to-become-a-hurricane breeze, his breath had evoked memories of the finely-aged red wine they’d had with dinner, as well as the breaded pork chop, marinated asparagus and slightly overcooked rice pilaf, with a slight aftertaste of cherry cheesecake....he had pressed his lips to hers with precisely the right amount of passion-inducing pressure, and she’d felt the scratchy friction of his stubbly beard, which had grown in slightly despite (he had assured her in his ever-so-gallant reassuringly manly way) his efforts of shaving it that morning at 7:32 with a Bic razor and Barbasol shave cream, rinsed with warm water and followed by a splash of Old Spice. He’d leaned his forehead against hers, and she was drawn back in time to the evening before, when she’d noted the blemish there, just between his thick, dark-blond-but-not-to-be-confused-with-light-brown brows, and she had suggested he use some Clearasil cream, but he'd insisted that Neosporin would do the trick.  He had apparently been mistaken because the blemish had remained, casting a skin-reddened taint upon their near-perfect romantic moment just as she had begun to appreciate the thoroughly masculine aroma of his thirty-nine-dollar cologne.

Mary smoothed the knee-length skirt of her periwinkle, 80% cotton/20% polyester dress, which matched her leather heels with the astonishingly adorable little buckles, as well as her sensible-yet-sexy hoop earrings with hypoallergenic posts, and sighed. It wasn't a quiet sigh, nor was it a heavy was the type of sigh that you can hear if you are sitting within three feet of the other person, but not from across the room...anyhoo, she smoothed her periwinkle polyester/cotton blend skirt and sighed as she stood looking at the bald spots on the lawn and thought once more of Biff, hoping against hope that such bald spots would never mar that beautiful head of perfectly nuanced hair, as the unfortunate blemish had marred his forehead. Yes, her beloved Biff, who she also wished would not soon become forevermore known as Hurricane Biff, and whose blemished pate still drew her like Lyle Lovett’s warbling scarecrow sounds had once drawn Pretty Woman Julia Roberts.  

She sighed again, a bit louder than before but certainly not audibly enough to be heard from farther than four feet away, and she glanced at her car. It was a pearl white Honda Civic with 62,421 miles on it, freshly washed the morning before by the cheerleaders at the Loversville High School Car Wash Fundraiser for Perfectly Pink Pom-Poms,  and it shone brightly in the sun that had broken through the possible hurricane clouds.  The Civic had last had its oil changed on November 23rd at 10:02 am, and that was when she had first noticed the ding on one side that she had never had repaired, and which of course haunted her still each and every day. Between the lawn slugs, the hurricane, the dismaying door ding and her beloved Biff and his blemish (not to mention his possible future baldness and tragic association with potential storm damage which could lead to the necessity of naming any future offspring "Gale" or "Windy") .... Well. Mary feared it was bound to be an emotionally trying day... 

(To Be Continued.....)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


I am procrastinating.


Does everyone do this, I wonder?

Sure, I've been procrastinating about the usual things I get tired of doing, like cleaning and laundry and filing paperwork.
The monotony of those things automatically make them perfect for the Perpetual Waiting List, and quite honestly, I don't feel all that guilty about putting off any of them.

But it's not as if I'm just putting off things I don't want to do.

I am also dragging my feet about reading a book I need to review, which is something I usually enjoy.
And I am putting off doing other reading and writing-related things, all of which I have been anxious to get to.

Now that I've given up one of my three part-time jobs/activities, I had hoped to feel a bit rejuvenated, or at least less burnt out and more raring-to-go.
But, no, apparently it's not so easy.
I am still tempted to spend my evening site-hopping or tv watching, when I should be working on either of my works-in-progress, or writing an essay or a review, or...(ahem) composing a more meaningful blog post.

I don't know why I am so unproductive, when I have every reason and desire to be more productive right now...

What do you do when you feel unmotivated?
When you know you can make the time for things, and you really do want to, but you just...don't.
How do you pull yourself out of it and get going again?
If you have any suggestions, I would welcome them!

Meanwhile, I suppose I will continue to procrastinate while simultaneously wallowing in self-pity over my procrastinating ways.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

The More Things Change

Alex Wolff of Nat and Alex Wolff,
Brighton Music Hall, 2/24/12

So many changes since I last posted...
Some pressures have eased, while others have not, but that's what keeps life interesting, isn't it?
Right now, the dripping faucet in my kitchen has morphed into a major plumbing project, there is an escaped gecko hiding somewhere in the house, and there's still never enough time/money/what-have-you.
Some things change, and some stay the same.

I started thinking about how things change when we took my daughter to her first concert last week. She's had a recent interest in Nat and Alex Wolff, formerly featured on Nickelodeon's "The Naked Brothers Band" several years ago.  They're still young (14 and 17),  but there's some definite musical talent there, and they certainly weren't hard to listen to, even for us chaperones.  They also have a dedicated fan base, of which my daughter is one of the more enthusiastic.

The show was held in a small venue, a less overwhelming first concert experience for a twelve-year-old than one of the large stadiums the more "popular" acts could fill.  It turned out to be a great show, and my daughter and her friend were among the many fans who had the opportunity to meet the boys, get autographs, and even have pictures taken with them.  A terrific experience, all around.

It was interesting to me, though, to see that although the screeching "fan girl" attitude was much the same as it may have been when I was twelve or thirteen, some things have definitely changed.  Instead of dancing and really getting into the music and the atmosphere as we used to back in the days of waving lighters, most of this audience was far more intent on taping/taking pictures with their phones (note the iphone in the foreground of the picture, above). I lost count of the number of phones held up in the sea of mostly pre-teen girls.

The performers had to encourage the audience to clap along (since, of course, phones had to be set aside to actually clap!).  They were clearly an appreciative and excited audience, regardless, and I can understand why they were so determined to tape the performance; I can only imagine how excited I would have been to have had the opportunity to videotape Aerosmith or Bob Seger, or any of the other concerts I went to. Back then, it was "no cameras" for the most part.  We all would have been thrilled to have something other than the old Polaroid Onestep (a bit too bulky to sneak into concerts!).

And yet...I couldn't help thinking that they were missing out on some of the real thrill of a live concert.  After all, how much can you fully experience something if you are merely a videographer?  With your eyes primarily on a small screen in your hand instead of the stage before you, the excitement simply can't attain the same level.  The audience was certainly enthusiastic, but not in the same way I remember.

That's the way of most changes, I suppose.  There are pros and cons, good parts and not so good parts.
My daughter and the rest of the audience that night may have seemed a bit less completely immersed in the experience than I might have been at that age, but they do have plenty of memories in pictures and video.
Maybe it's a good trade-off.   Just as Nat and Alex have changed, evolving from those cute kids in that TV show to "real" musicians, everything needs to change and evolve eventually, and I suppose the concert experience is not immune. And in the end, this new generation doesn't know any different -- it's only us old folks who see it.

If they are missing out, they don't know it.  And maybe that's just how it's supposed to be.