Sunday, July 21, 2013

Biff and Mary: Chapter Fifteen

Welcome to another installment of Biff and Mary!  

Today's episode is brought to you by alliteration, autonomous body parts, unnecessary descriptions and a few common phrases I seem to see in nearly every book I've read lately (if you know which ones I mean and find them in the chapter, let me know in the comments!)

Those of you who have read the previous chapters (just click the Biff and Mary tab, above, if you'd like to review) will recall that we last left our lovely couple in the doorway at Mary's house, with Mary embracing a strange man, leaving poor Biff stunned and stymied...

Chapter Fifteen: In Which Biff Becomes Excessively Envious

Biff stood silently behind Mary, in an uncomfortable quandary, wondering if he should interrupt her embrace of the unknown man or sustain his stoic nonchalant stance. As he frowned at the affectionate display in the doorway, a sparkle outside drew his attention and he gazed over Phillipe’s red Robert Graham garrison sport shirt-clad shoulder at the car parked at the end of the drive. It was a BMW 1 Series Sport Edition Convertible in Carbon Black metallic paint finish with 18” M light alloy V-spoke wheels, adaptive Xenon headlights, shiny chrome accents and tailpipe and polished black vertical bars in the distinctive kidney grille. The slowly setting sun caused the BMW’s shadow to hover ominously over Biff’s practical Prius, which – as he saw now – really needed to be washed, dried, and buffed to a proper shine, though it would likely never have the perfectly polished presence of Phillipe’s vehicle.

Biff sighed and his eyes moved away from the driveway drama, only to find that the Phillipe/Mary embrace disturbingly continued. Just as Biff was reaching out to poke a proprietary pinkie on Phillipe’s admirably clothed arm, Mary finally drew back and away, though her smile was wide and bright and not directed at Biff at all.

“Oh, Phillipe! I can’t believe you’re here!  How did you ever know where to find me?” Mary bubbled as she ignored Biff.

Phillipe flipped his medium-length brown-with-reddish-highlights hair back out of his chocolate brown eyes and flashed Mary a stunningly spectacular grin.
“I stopped by your parents’ place, and your mother was very accommodating with your address, so I jumped in the Beamer and headed straight for Loversville!”

“But, but I thought you were in Paris until fall!”

Phillipe’s eyes rolled heavenward with exhausted ennui. “Paris simply bored me, Mary. One can take only so many parties and fashion shows and yachts, after all. So, here I am! Back to see my lovely Mary!” Phillipe grasped Mary’s lightly tanned and toned arms and pulled her in for yet another enthusiastic embrace.

His “lovely Mary”??  Biff’s eyes widened and his fists clenched in an unfamiliar way as he was filled with a new, incomprehensible emotion.  He panicked as he felt his heartbeat increase to a disturbing cadence and the depth of his frown threatened to crease the Revlon Cover-me-Up in Fair Maiden Ivory concealer he’d applied to the stubborn behemoth of blemish on his forehead. His lungs filled and refilled with air at a much faster than normal pace and he began to feel rather faint as he stared ineffectually at his lovely Mary in this insolent intruder’s arms.  He felt beads of moisture on his brow, and after thinking about it for a moment he realized it must be sweat – something he’d heard of but never experienced, of course, as sweating was simply not done in his circles. A sense of shame as well as fear began to join the other unknown emotion that caused his rapid breathing and clenched fists as he surreptitiously swiped his sleeve across his seriously sweaty brow.
 Just when he felt he may explode in some inexplicable but likely meaningful way, Mary drew away from Phillipe once more.  As her mouth opened to speak, a shrill series of yelps echoed from beyond the kitchen.

“Oh! Poor Poopsie!” Mary exclaimed, running toward the back door. “I’m coming, sweetiekins!”

For a swift but seemingly interminable moment, Biff was left staring at Phillipe, begrudgingly admiring the Robert Graham shirt and the beige Cutter & Buck twill pants as well as the hickory shade of his Ferragamo Sabatino driving shoes and the Versace sunglasses that hung haphazardly out of his shirt pocket. As his breathing began to return to normal, he looked up only to find Phillipe’s gaze on his own shoes. 

The mutual assessment was interrupted by a rocketing ball of pink fur and tiny snapping maw, as Poopsie barreled into the room. Having been on the receiving end of Poopsie’s protective nature, Biff’s feet took an instinctive step backward.

Phillipe, meanwhile, stooped down and caught the ricocheting puffball in mid-bark.

“Hey! This can’t be little Poopsie, can it?” he said as he gathered the previously-problematic pup against his chest. “Last time I saw you, you had to be at least two ounces lighter and a lovely shade of lilac.” He turned to Mary. “You simply must tell me who her stylist is. They’ve done a wonderful job and I’ve been looking for a new one for my Lhasa, Lawrence.”

“Oh, I bring her to Penny at Paulette’s Pampered Pooch Emporium on the corner of Pearl and Pickwick. They let you pick from plenty of powdery pastels! Lawrence would look lovely in a light lilac, I’m sure!”

Momentarily ignoring the dog stylist discussion, Biff felt his mouth drop open in shock as Poopsie sniffed Phillipe delicately, and then her little pink tongue reached out and licked his hand, tail wagging in apparent friendly recognition. Biff looked down at his bandage-bearing thumb, which still throbbed slightly from Poopsie’s earlier attack, then felt his scowl deepen as he turned toward Mary.

Mary was smiling a blinding, larger than ever, dazzling Crest White Strips smile as she gazed adoringly at…at Phillipe!

“Oh Phillipe, it is SO wonderful to see you again!” she gushed, seeming to forget about Biff entirely.

Biff forced a polite but firm “ahem” from his throat, causing all three to turn their attention his way. Poopsie began growling menacingly.

“Oh good heavens!” Mary exclaimed. “How could I be so rude!”  She took a step toward Biff and grasped his arm. “Phillipe, I’d like you to meet my beau, Biff!”

Phillipe gave Biff another assessing look before he shifted Poopsie in his arms and his free hand reached out in a seemingly friendly way.  He grasped Biff’s hand firmly. “Good to meet you.”

“Same,” Biff said, unable to force himself to friendliness.

“Biff,” Mary addressed him – finally! “This is Phillipe Jean-Paul Boutonniere the Third, of the Boston Boutonnieres, so well-known for their baby bunting and bauble businesses in both Boston and Baltimore, of course. He and I were…er…good friends back home.”

Biff nodded, regaining enough composure to possessively place his hand over Mary’s as it rested on his arm. He smiled a smile that didn’t quite reach his eyes and released the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding.

Phillipe carefully placed Poopsie on the floor and she sauntered off to her pillow in the living area, pausing along the way to glare and growl at Biff.

“Well, now that all that is out of the way,” he announced cheerfully, “we can get to business.  Mary, I would love to take you to dinner this evening…what do you say?”

As Biff’s mouth dropped open once again at the audacity of the incessantly insolent interloper, wondering what he should do next as he’d never been in a position to purposely pound upon a person to possessively point out who, in fact, was in charge here, he felt Mary’s hand leave his arm as she walked toward Phillipe once more.

“Oh, Phillipe! That would be…”

Will Mary accept Phillipe’s offer?
Will Biff figure out how to confront Phillipe?
Will any boxes ever get unpacked?
Tune in next time!  J

Friday, July 19, 2013

Changes, Announcements and Biff & Mary!

Anyone there...?

Well. Can't say I blame you!
I've been absent for months...sorry!

The blog's been on a sort of unplanned hiatus while I've put my efforts into pursuing some writing-related jobs, and I'm happy to say that the time I invested has begun paying off. In addition to book reviews for ForeWord Reviews, I've been busy with several proofreading and copy editing projects for Skyhorse Publishing, a well-established and growing New York publisher. I've had a lot of fun working on a variety of titles for them, including a few cookbooks and memoirs as well as an anthology of really good horror stories.

I'm also happy to say that I've recently accepted a position as a Senior Editor for Entranced Publishing, and I'll be editing primarily for their Mesmerized and Thrills imprints. I'm very excited to become part of their editing team, and I'm impressed by their commitment to the success of the authors they represent.
(**And if you write romance and are ready to publish, check out the submission guidelines on their website, or feel free to contact me through this blog or email jeannine (at), and I'll be glad to put you in touch with the right person to get you started.)

Been a little bit busy! :)
That said, my old friends Biff and Mary have been clamoring for attention so I think I'll have to spend some time with them this weekend. For those still interested in Biff, Mary, Poopsie and friends, I am going to pick up where we left off, hopefully posting a new chapter by Sunday.
I'm also hoping to translate some of the things I've been learning to this blog, specifically with posts about muddling through the writing process, links to sites to help you enhance your skills, and maybe some more Biff and Mary type "projects" to keep things fun.  If you'd like to join in or just share some good links or books or whatever, please do!

Again, apologies for the long absence and I hope you'll stick with me while I try to set this blog on a more focused course!


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Biff and Mary: Chapter Fourteen

Welcome back for more Biff and Mary! Today’s episode will be filled with the vapid thought processes, extreme run-on sentences, excessive amount of detail and ridiculous shallowness that epitomize our Perfectly Perfect Pair! When we last left our lovebirds at Mary’s home in Loversville, they had just been attempting to unpack boxes and were finishing their lunch while Mary’s pampered Pomeranian, Poopsie, languished in the back yard. Buff, blemished Biff was about to reveal his deep, dark, secret… ;) Hope you enjoy!

** If you'd like to read previous chapters of Biff and Mary, my exercise in How Not to Write, just click on the "Biff and Mary" tab above, or click here. **

Chapter 14: Wherein Biff’s Secret is Revealed and True Love is Tested Once More…

Biff cleared his throat, flipped his well-styled sun-kissed blond hair with the 23 darker streaks mixed in (which she had still yet to determine were natural or the result of an expert colorist, but as she now knew that her love knew no bounds she had decided she didn’t mind which), and determinedly looked Mary in the eye as he prepared to divulge the secret of his moniker misfortune.

“Well, Mary…it is important that we always be honest with each other…even about the most, er….challenging things, right?” He looked at her hopefully.

Mary nodded and swallowed and tried to ignore the way her heartbeat had sped up because the way it was beating made her think back to watching cartoons on her grandmother’s old RCA  television, which had it’s own dark wood grain cabinet and metal rabbit ears on top which worked sometimes but didn’t work others, and once in a while they had to crumple up tin foil and wrap it on the ends of the antennas to make it work well enough for her to watch her Saturday morning Looney Tunes when she was visiting. Anyhoo, she thought about watching the cartoons and the way Pepe LePew’s heart would beat so hard that it would practically poke right out of his chest every time he saw his lady love, much like Mary’s heart was beating right now. She risked a quick glance down at her own chest, swathed in the once-lovely-but-now-hopelessly-wrinkled white cotton blouse with the delicate little cap sleeves, which had so nicely set off both her lightly tanned and toned arms as well as her plum-colored pedal-pusher pants, not to mention her amethyst accessories, and was relieved to find that her own frantic heartbeat wasn’t nearly so obvious as Pepe’s .


“Er…yes. Yes, Biff, of course. Please go on.”

Biff cleared his throat again. “Well…my parents told me that they thought a man of my social stature really needed to have more than one middle name, and since they wanted to be sure to honor both of my late grandfathers when I was born, they gave me both of their names. So…my middle names are... Ulysses and Reginald.”
He glanced at Mary expectantly, braced for her reaction. When she continued to stare at him vacantly, he took a deep breath and went on.
“So…my full name is... Bickford Ulysses Reginald Parker.”
Mary’s vacant look remained for a moment more, then her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open slightly in shock and dismay. “But Biff…if…if that’s the case, then that means that your initials are…”

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Books to Movies: Will it work for the Outlander books?

Apologies for such a long, unplanned hiatus from the blog.
For those of you who are still interested in their misadventures, Biff and Mary have been clamoring for attention and will likely make an appearance again in the very near future, so stay tuned!

There has been quite a lot of interesting stuff going on in the writing/reading world these days, but the one that caught my attention recently is an announcement about Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander books being picked up by Starz for development as a drama series.

Am I the only Outlander fan who views this with at least a little bit of wariness?

Oh, I understand the author’s willingness to make the deal – really, if it were you, and you stood to make the kind of money such a movie/series could bring in, would you ever turn it down?  Of course not. You'd sign on and hope they did a good job.

But as a devoted reader of the series…
Please... just, no.

If there is any one novel I’ve read that I do *not* want to see on film, Outlander is it.

Is there any actress who could truly portray someone as complex as Claire? Any actor who could convincingly become Jamie? 
Just the thought of it gives me horrific visions of Keira Knightly wildly emoting while Tom Cruise flips back a mop of artificial red hair. Yikes.

And when it comes to the whole books-to-movies-or-television thing, I would venture to say that history supports my skepticism.

Consider all of the books you’ve truly enjoyed. Have any been turned into a movie?
Or a television mini-series?
 Can you think of any that have come even close to living up to the book(s) they are based on?

Take Stephen King, for example. He has a way of tapping into that little spark of fear or strangeness in humanity that might otherwise go unnoticed, and brilliantly twisting it into a nightmarish thing. Genius, really, and back in the day, I loved reading Carrie, The Shining, and many others. And while the movies based on those novels were entertaining, they certainly didn’t compare to the books themselves. How could that kind of singular nuance of human nature and evil that King captures so perfectly ever be sufficiently expressed by character actors (even good ones like Jack Nicholson and Sissy Spacek)? 

I haven’t read any of the Twilight books, and I don’t really think I ever will, but from what I understand many of the book's fans were very unhappy about the movie casting, and felt that the action in the book didn’t translate credibly to the big screen.
If a major movie studio can’t do something like the Twilight series justice on the movie screen, can we really have much faith in Starz being able to do a superior book series like Outlander justice?

Maybe I’m a “book snob” or maybe I’m a cynic, but I can’t find it in me to be excited by that announcement. I love Jamie and Claire as they exist on the pages, and in my mind, and I don’t want to see the Hollywood version of them. I really don't.

How do the rest of you Outlander fans feel about it?
Do you think there is any possibility that Starz can do something worthwhile with the book?
I'd welcome your opinions in the comments.

{* One more thing!  For those die-hard fans like me, I highly recommend Karen Henry’s Outlandish Observations site. There’s a lot of great info about the books and the history, such as the Friday Fun Facts, and lots of other fun and informative Outlander stuff. If you haven’t been there, it’s definitely worth a visit!}