Candy                    Well, it all started because of the chocolate. You know – all that extra chocolate that abounds over the holidays. You can’t leave it sitting there. It has to be eaten. It would be rude not to.

But then, in the cruel light of day, you realize that your clothes really, really shrunk in the wash – especially around the middle…  Then, it was that late-night infomercial for exercise equipment that beckoned. Just what I need, I told myself. And it was on sale.

Problem was, that when stretched out to start my work-out, the equipment was over 8 feet long. This is where the Yak Shaving kicked in again. (For those who missed it, I wrote about ‘Yak Shaving 101’ in the April 2017 Blog on this site. It’s the system of the many unintentional, side-tracking steps one goes through to achieve one’s original goal.)

In order to make room for this work-out equipment, so I could use it in the living-room – several things needed to be removed. Best place for those boxes of files, DVDs and things left there ‘to deal with later,’ was in my office cupboard. Yak Shaving fully in gear, I had to clear out the office cupboard first.


Over the next two days, I got rid of six large bags of trash, shredded two large bags of financial papers and gave a car-load of things to the local Cancer Discovery Thrift Shop.

I really didn’t need those four reams of assorted colored copy paper, six unopened boxes of Sharpies, when one would suffice – stacks of used folders with names scribbled all over them, and plastic bags. What was I saving Barnes and Noble plastic bags for?

A whole shelf was filled with pay-slips from acting jobs and residuals going back too many years to own up to. I pulled out a few important ones, just as reminders of what I had once done. The rest got shredded.

But the other side of this challenge reaped all sorts of rewards. Apart from loads of empty space, I even found a $100-bill in an old note-book!

I went through boxes of my old photos from shows and films I had worked on, before I quit acting to focus on my writing-career. I had forgotten many of the great adventures I had in my life – some reckless moments that had me wincing, as I came across plane, train and boat tickets. Did I really go there alone at such a young age? Crazy! A lot of “what was I thinking?” moments, too.


As Guardian in Dr. Who

But I sure met a lot of interesting people in my travels. And, of course, the movie premieres I attended, visits to the Cannes Film Festival when the real movie stars and legendary directors, producers, composers were still around. I found notes from a flying lesson. (What? Where? Why?) And the myriad of odd jobs I have done since I left school so early to pursue my dreams. (Photo from Rosie’s performance in Dr. Who)

I also came across a couple of Trader Joe’s chocolate bars – too old to eat, alas. How did they get in there? Probably hidden from my late-husband, Rick, who would devour chocolate if he saw it – and either he was on a diet and should not eat it, or more likely because I wanted to eat it and I knew the chocolate bars would not remain if Rick came across them. (It’s an old, married thing – for those singletons out there.)

Trip of a Lifetime 2009 240

I found some very special mementos from Rick, incidentally. Notes we had written each other, more birthday, Christmas and Valentines cards. Re-reading those simultaneously brought a big grin to my face, warmth to my heart – and a lump in my throat. I remind myself constantly how lucky I was to have loved and been loved by my husband.

In so many adventures along the way, I learned new skills: like turtle-catching, for one. The horse-back riding lessons were not quite so successful. But I can dance a mean Charleston, and cook up a tasty meal from left-overs with a recipe Cary Grant told me he got from Doris Day. I can still cut a basic sewing pattern from my days in Fashion Design, (carefully) handle snakes, write a good Press Release and can tell you lots about the early history of Hollywood. Until this enforced de-cluttering, I had forgotten the many roads I traveled.

I started making notes, as I uncovered more treasures: another splendid Yak-Shaving side-step. But the memories I noted, the dates, the forgotten names recovered, were all heading in one direction. More writing projects.



This Yak Shaving has its good points. I am delighted to open my office cupboard door to see so much space. Those boxes that had to be moved into said cupboard in order to make space to use the new exercise machine? Well, once I focused on the de-cluttering and asked those required questions: “Do I love this object, do I need this, does it bring me joy?” The answer was “no” all round. So I got rid of those boxes, too.


And as I now have the space to do all the push-ups, pull-ups, leg and stomach exercises I want – I can contemplate the new stories, articles and books I intend to write as I work out.

As I look through those recovered memories, would I do things differently, given the chance? Sometimes, yes. But mostly ‘no.’ I wouldn’t be where am I am now and I like where I am. Yak-shaving complete – and surprisingly successful.

If you dig back through your own past – would you do things differently? And if so, what? Hmmm, Food for thought – as long as it’s not chocolate.



Rosemary Lord

The author of Best Sellers Hollywood Then and Now and Los Angeles Then and Now, English born ROSEMARY LORD has lived in Hollywood for over 30 years. As an actress, her credits include Monty Python, Rivals of Sherlock Holmes, Days of Our Lives, L.A. Heat and more. She did voice-work on Titanic, Star Trek, Shakespeare In Love, The Holiday and Pirates of the Caribbean amongst others.

Also a former journalist, she wrote about Hollywood’s Golden Age, interviewing such luminaries as Cary Grant, James Stewart, Tony Hopkins, John Huston. She was a Senior Publicist at Columbia Pictures.

Rosemary lectures on Hollywood history and is the President of the Woman’s Club of Hollywood. She is a member of MWA and Sisters-in-Crime.

She is currently writing a series of murder mysteries set in the 1920’s Jazz Age Hollywood featuring Lottie Topaz, an extra in silent movies.


DEDICATION by Miko Johnston

Miko first contemplated a writing career as a poet at age six. That notion ended four years later when she found no ‘help wanted’ ads for poets in the classified section, but her desire to write persisted. After graduating from New York University, she headed west to pursue a career as a journalist before switching to fiction. She is the author of the A Petal In The Wind Series, including recently released Book III – The Great War .  Miko lives on Whidbey Island in Washington.


As I begin the fourth book in my Petal In The Wind series, the only thing I know for sure is the novel will be dedicated to my father, George.

He was born in a province of Germany in July 1919. Do the math – his mother gave birth to him about nine months after Armistice Day. Not a unique event in Germany, or any nation involved in World War I. Add eighteen years to that and you get a new generation of men ready to fight in 1937. Within a year German expansion had begun with the annexation of Austria and the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. World War II loomed. Being Jewish set my father on a very different path.

*      *      *

When you face something monumental, seemingly impossible to get through, you can do one of three things. You can retreat. You can plow through no matter the obstacles or odds. Or you can detour around it. When it came to difficult conversations, my father picked number three. Always.


He talked to people, including my brother and me, in a kind of code. When he couldn’t be direct or graphic about something, he’d use humor or quote American isms to elucidate. He’d occasionally fall back on a childhood joke or expression. We learned, over time, that he was what is called a Holocaust survivor, an unfortunate victim-label. To ensure we understood what happened, he spoke to us about that time in his life, but never about the worst of it in highly descriptive words. He kept that burden to himself.


My education on the subject began simply enough with a question that was dealt with in an equally simplified manner. When I asked at age three about the numbers tattooed on my father’s arm, he told me it was his phone number.  As a kindergartener, I asked him about an orange book, missing its dust jacket, shelved in our bookcase. It fascinated me with its odd-looking letters dancing along the spine – I thought it was Chinese. My father told me I could read the book when I was old enough to read the title.


Several years later I looked at the orange hardcover’s spine and suddenly the fancy font letters had transformed into English words. I brought the book to my father and said, “It’s called, The Tiger Beneath the Skin”. I began to read it that night.


Today I would describe the book as a selection of tales about Jewish experiences during Nazi occupation with a hint of paranormal, like a cross between an anthology of parables and episodes of “The Twilight Zone”. I recently saw a copy on Amazon, wearing a dust jacket, and learned for the first time that the book has a subtitle: “Stories and Parables about the Years of Death.” At the time I read it, some of the stories sent chills up my spine and some intrigued me. I’m sure many went over my head, which is why I can’t remember them all, but a few were unforgettable. The stories all had a peculiarly uplifting message, whether of the Nazi officer driven insane by his murder of a blind Rabbi, or the man who brought a sense of calmness and dignity to a trainload of Jews walking into the gas chamber.  Something of a selective chronical of events, the book gave me an inkling of what had happened. It also began my quest for knowledge about that period of history, and my father’s life.


My curiosity ripened by the time I’d reached my teens. I questioned my father about everything, and he answered my questions in his inimitable style. He had a knack for getting the information across in a way that wouldn’t lead to nightmares. Part of it was his own attitude. Despite everything he went through, he still maintained a positive look on life and could find humor in the darkest situations. He once hosted a reunion with fellow Auschwitz survivors. I heard the three of them laughing at one story. When the men left I asked my father what was so funny. He explained that one man, who’d been charged with filling “holes dug in the ground” with rocks, was so weak that he fell into the hole with the rock. Of course, he never said why the holes were dug, or what they contained.


I often gravitated to people who had survivor parents, thinking we’d have something in common, but we often didn’t. My friends’ parents always seemed more damaged than my father. They held onto that terror and sense of danger all their lives and passed that fear onto their children. My father’s biggest mishegas (craziness) was stockpiling non-perishable food in the house. That my father survived physically was remarkable, but that he survived mentally was absolutely miraculous.


*          *          *


I went to Berlin in September 2003 to visit the villa known as the Wannsee-Conference House, headquarters of the infamous SS during the Nazi era. It’s where my father had been kept in slave labor until the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, when fifteen Nazi officials drew up a doctrine known as the Final Solution of the Jewish Question.  The answer was total annihilation; all remaining Jews were to be sent to concentration camps, including my father. In 1992, the building became a memorial and educational site. My father had worked with the museum’s curator and Berlin’s mayor to create a permanent exhibit dedicated to slave labor during the Nazi era; his picture still hangs on the wall. Unfortunately, he never got to see it. He passed away six weeks before the exhibit opened in January 2003, so my husband and I went in his place.


We both found the museum very moving, especially the Final Solution exhibit, but I didn’t fully sense my father’s presence there due to his verbal detours. Oddly, it took a stop at a local hotel to bring me to tears. I stood in front of the building, staring at a large empty banquet room with a wooden floor and picture windows overlooking Lake Wannsee. One night, my ‘slave’ father had snuck out of the villa and went to this hotel when they held a dance. The SS guards in attendance, who knew who he was, sat and laughed as he danced with several clueless fräuleine. Standing there, I could vividly picture the story my father had told me forty years earlier, and wept.


The fourth book in my saga moves into the 1930s. I can’t help but think of my father and what he endured. He may be gone, but his story lives on and will continue to do so, thanks to what I’ve written and will continue to write. That is why the book will be dedicated to him.


Should Short Stories Include Big Character Changes?

headshotJacqueline Vick is the author of over twenty published short stories, novelettes and mystery novels. Her April 2010 article for Fido Friendly Magazine, “Calling Canine Clairvoyants”, led to the first Frankie Chandler Pet Psychic mystery, Barking Mad About Murder. To find out more, visit her website at http://www.jacquelinevick.com.



Pet Sychic Valentine FlattenedI was writing a Pet Psychic short story for St. Valentine’s Day. It seemed like the perfect time to have Bowers propose to Frankie, but I wondered if that would be fair to readers of the series. On one hand, it would encourage people to keep up with the shorts. On the other hand, not everyone enjoys shorter fiction, so they might be confused when they picked up the next novel.

I’d run into this problem before with a Harlow Brothers short mystery, also involving a romantic situation.

In both cases, I took out the big changes and will use them in future novels. Did I do right? Should I have gone with what felt natural?  In the Pet Psychic instance, I’ve thought of ways to incorporate the proposal in a more creative environment, so maybe my concerns about including a marriage proposal in a St. Valentine’s story came from my creative muse.

So, I am curious. Do you think the short stories in between novels should include major changes to the character’s life? Or should those only appear in the novels?