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!”