Betwixt and Between

 

Madeline (M.M.) Gornell is the author of seven award-winning mystery novels. Her current literary focus is Route 66 as it traverses California’s Mojave Desert. Madeline is a lifetime lover of mysteries. She lives with her husband and assorted canines in the High Desert. Visit her website and Amazon Author Page.

The week between Christmas and New Yearsfrom childhood and school breaks through my “working for others life,” has always been a time to think about “stuff.” Daydream, refresh, and kick back (snooze, read, watch TV). Though it certainly is a different electronic world these days—finding it very hard to completely escape into my own little mental world, with email and Facebook calling me…

So my writing and posting thoughts in this betwixt-and-between kind of twilight-zone post are not after Christmas ponderings, or 2018 future thoughts about goals—but more like meanderings (if that’s an actual word) through writing thoughts I’ve collected and remain unresolved. I’m sharing, with the hope there might be something you might find worth thinking further about—or even keeping into the new year as a goal:

  • I love reading and writing murder mysteries. Meaning, there are always dead bodies and murderers inhabiting my stories. One of the things I’m pondering about is—the weighing of nature versus nurture. Especially in today’s world of genome and DNA exploration. Are my murderers compelled by genetics, or willfully evil, or? Or? A great underlying theme, I think, for at least a short story? For sure, a character trait/observation to include? Thinking about how to do that, and still maintain a story that’s FUN to read. The fun part, I also think is very important.
  • As an addicted TV watcher since childhood, I’m finding myself turning off more and more new shows and movies and removing the DVR timer completely. Why? Sometimes language, sometimes too much blood and gore (hubby reminds me I do write murder mysteries!), but most of all—characters I don’t give a darn about. Definitely want to write tales where the reader cares about what life has done to the character, and how they respond. Better ways of my accomplishing that key writing goal are floating around in my betwixt-and-between thoughts.
  • I get in my email “Websters Word of the Day.” Sometimes I know the word already, often I don’t, and occasionally I keep them in an electronic folder with the thought I’ll use sometime. Ha! (usually quickly forgotten) Using just the right word, without turning a FUN tale into a hard to read tome I think is tricky. As a side note on words: used “knackered” for tired the other day when speaking to someone who doesn’t watch as much BBC offerings as I do. They didn’t know what the heck I was talking about.
  • And lastly, do a lot of audio book “reading,” and I’m thinking about how much of my enjoyment is the voice-actor’s talent, or tenor of their voice, or the writing? Or? Think this one might be a post on my 2018 writing road…

I know this is a mish-mash post all over the place, but for me, that’s what this betwixt and between week is for—wading through my mental writing mess. And hopefully, some of this mental-mess (I know, too many “m”s) will get your writing thoughts going.

Sunset

22 thoughts on “Betwixt and Between”

  1. Thought-provoking post, Madeline. This week has always felt sort of like suspended animation to me, too–as well as a time to clean out those receipts and start an income tax file (my poor shredder.) I share so many of the sentiments you voiced: the lack of relatable characters on mainstream TV (although I do detect a counter-trend beginning, as witnessed by the success of programs such as “This Is Us”), and the crucial role a good reader plays in my enjoyment of an audiobook. You also made me glad I’m not the only one collecting some of those Words of the Day but rarely remembering to use them. Nice alliteration in this post, too!

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    1. Thank you so much, Bonnie, for letting me know I’m not the only one thinking and doing some of these things. Sometimes I do wonder! So your thoughts are so welcome–except maybe the reminder it will soon be income tax time…ahhhhhh! (together we probably have a lot of “words” collecting dust.

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  2. I love this post Madeline. I copy/pasted four of your comments to four Twitter posts as teasers to get folks to come read the whole thing!
    Your question about nurture-nature and DNA made me think of a thought I thunked the other day – If a person got plastic surgery to alter his looks in order to hide criminal notoriety, could facial-ID software still pick him out, with bone structure, head shape etc? (That’s a freebie for your books, Madeline!! Haha)
    Another of your comments was about using the right word without causing your readers to say, “Huh?” In a short story I wrote for a contest (and won honorable mention) I had several commenters say they had to look up TWO WORDS in the story? My turn to say, “Huh?” They weren’t THAT unusual.
    I’ll not go into the other two points. Suffice it to say…. very good thoughts for your “between” time.

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  3. Madeline, I thoroughly enjoyed your “mish-mash” post.
    Two things jumped out at me. The nature vs. nurture comment, which reminded me of the old movie “Trading Places.” Worth watching, if you haven’t. And, secondly, your comment about turning off the TV more and more often. There are some new shows that I enjoy but I often wonder – especially with some of the new sitcoms – if the producers think all Americans are stupid. LOL

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    1. Thanks, Patricia, for taking the time to stop by, and especially for commenting! The sentiment about producers thinking all Americans are stupid is one I’ve many times thought. I’d add, “banal” (one of my Webster words(smile)) I’m going to try to catch “Trading Places”–hoping might show up on TCM channel.

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  4. Thank you, Jackie, for posting to Twitter! I haven’t been going there recently to promote–have such a hard time trying to say what I want and give a link in the allotted word count. Just wordy, I guess (smile). And yes, I’ve mentally stolen the plastic surgery idea, and when I go to the PSWA conference in July–there are several forensics experts there, I’ll ask about the facial recognition.

    A famous author I like, and I don’t remember which, it might be P.D. James?, but the author’s thought was if they don’t have to go to the dictionary a couple times to learn a new word, that author is disappointed!

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    1. I’ve found that Twitter is allowing you MORE than 140 characters now. And you can always go to https://app.bitly.com to shorten ANY link to about 14 characters. It helps when you are “wordy.” (smiling too) AND…. I always try to TWEET each of our posts several times over the first few days. I think it draws traffic, but alas, not comments usually.

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  5. Interesting post, Madeline. I feel much the same as you about television these days. I don’t do audio books. I find them too distracting, since my thoughts are always on the mystery I’m currently working on. Love your Rhodes books. In them, your words paint a clear picture of the fictional town of “Shy-knee”, and this lovely photo just confirms it. I’ve often thought about what it would be like to live in Rhodes Castle and see the sun rise or set. I hope there’s another book in this series soon to be published.

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    1. Evelyn, you just can’t imagine how wonderful you’ve made me feel mentioning the sunrises and sunsets from Rhodes Castle–I think in one book I talk about dream-cycle orange (I loved them(ice cream bars) as a kid from the Good Humor man), and I don’t know how the color came through on your device, but in my camera, it was a perfect orange. One of my betwixt and between thoughts is that in my next book I want Shiné to really become a place for readers (so many books I’ve enjoyed I’ve fallen in love with the setting)–and I’m soooooo pleased you’re already there. Putting a picture in a reader’s mind… I can still see that house in The Tarkington Treasure!
      Thanks, Evelyn.

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  6. You sure got a lot of us thinking about stuff, Mad. Like how TV shows just have the lure anymore. From what I have been hearing, the Hallmark Channel killed the ratings this year with all their Christmas movies. I guess people didn’t want to hear the swear words or see all that blood. I watched quite a few of those shows. They weren’t Shakespeare, but they were wholesome.

    As for your nature vs. nurture dilemma, one thing jumped out. The killer with a motive, opportunity, and method can be tracked down because of those points, but the guy or gal who is driven by some unknown force (mental or whatever) is going to be harder to track down. The motive might be from those voices in his head or the method might be so obscure even a latter day Sherlock might have trouble figuring it out. I have one of these stories in the wings and it is challenging to try and figure out how the killer is caught.

    You gave us all a lot to ponder betwixt…

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  7. That’s really interesting about the Hallmark Channel, Gayle. Maybe it’s a sign of “something,” or at least a msg to producers they’re not doing something right? Personally, I think if more production companies looked around for good books as their starting point (I could suggest a few!!(smile)) they might have some better shows. Just a thought…

    Yes, good point on the motive rational…I’ll be interested in how you work that out. Ponder on! (and please share down the road!)

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  8. I love this betwixt and between concept, Madeline. I’m spending my betwixt/between time getting my will and related documents in order. My sister said I sure know how to live it up during the holidays! I’m also sorting out the pictures from my September trip to Eastern Europe. And I’m watching Broadchurch on DVD. I watch very little regular TV these days. The Richmond libraries have so kinds of movies and shows on DVD that I don’t need Netflix.

    Years ago someone in a critique group advised me to ditch my “big” words. He was especially hot on “diatribe.” I didn’t think it was a big word. I don’t mind consulting the dictionary when I’m reading, but that’s me.

    Madeline, I agree that the production companies should look around for good books—like ours!

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Maggie, and especially for sharing your b&b activities! I must say, getting a will and documents together does not sound like a fun thing–but necessary, and I guess, what better time than betwixt and between? But going through your trip pictures (such an adventure!) and the associated memories, certainly sounds like a great fun way to spend this week. And watching British DVDs, ahh, wonderful! Your library sounds very good–out here in the desert-wilds it’s harder in that I have to drive a bit to get to the library. You’re definitely lucky there. I’ve tried sending queries and books to movie and TV producers, but nothing. They should be looking for us! (smile) So glad to hear about your dictionary thoughts–I’m the same.
      Have a great 2018!

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  9. Hi Madeline
    Loved the post and the responses are great, too.
    Re the genetics – DNA idea for the bad guy, maybe use recent research suggesting a definite different brain structure. The evidence has been around for awile, but new info furthers the likihood. Imagine if your killer was the son of your protagonist who is educated enough to be aware of the anatomical possibity, but because it’s his/her son cannot or does not want to accept the evidence.
    Since I have my psychological background, my antagonist in Dimension Norraena is full blown sociopathic.
    Thank you for the thought provoking ideas!
    HAPPY NEW YEAR!

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  10. So good to hear from you, Freddi! Of course you would have insight into the DNA arena! Yes, you’ve started me down several lines of thought. And I just downloaded Dimension Norraena and it’s now in my Kindle TBR books. Looking forward–and I really appreciate you stopped by and enjoyed the post and comments. It’s a struggle sometimes trying to post thoughts that might be energizing or helpful for other authors, so when I hear words like yours, it’s very pleasing! So again, thanks for stopping by and hope to see my HDCWC friends again in 2018!

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  11. Loved your post, MM. Perfect timing, just before the new year, as well. I’ve pondered many of your points. Big words – check. Nature vs. nurture criminals – check. I also agree about your observations about television (and I’ll include movies, sports, etc. in there). Several months ago I made the decision to limit viewing to one episode a night, which I maintained for about two months before my husband and I started slipping a bit. Maybe next year we’ll declare a TV-free night and play cards or board games. Or talk. Thanks for a thought-provoking and delightful end-of-year post.

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    1. Yes, Miko, similar to you two, hubby and I actually had a period where we only watched TV on Thursday evenings (DVRd everything until Thursday night.) That didn’t last a long time. But we are now watching less and less of their offerings, and substituting with selected series on DVD. And yes, some writing quandaries are unavoidable if one is trying to reach writing goals–or just plain improve. Have a wonderful new year!

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  12. Late to the party again – but I finally took a breather from my ‘driven quest’ at the Woman’s Club…
    I love the idea of betwixt and between for that quiet week between the old and new year. It’s a good time to let your thoughts meander, too. Delighted you used ‘knackered’! There are some really colorful English slang words I can send your way….” ta ever so,” Madeline.

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    1. Great hearing from you, Rosemary, no matter when! I must say though, I’m now actually in 2018 and having to face up to or materialize some of my betwixt and between thoughts. This is the hard part! So glad you’re having more time for yourself! Writing I’m sure… And you’re welcome so much!

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