Who Was That Guy? by G.B. Pool

Dapper Dog“There are no small parts, only small actors.”

The truth in this Hollywood line is that any actor can make his part better by bringing out every ounce of character in the role. Thelma Ritter did it in spades in roles like she had in All About Eve and Rear Window. Her presence and personality did a lot for the part, but let’s also give some credit to the playwright. And in a book or short story, you have to give ALL the credit to the author… or the blame if he or she doesn’t make every character work, large or small.

But what about those minor characters?

 

  • They bring the background to life. Example: regulars in a cheap dive bring out the seedier side of life while diners at the Ritz show us how the other half lives.
  • They provide information about the surroundings and specifics. They can run in and tell us the bridge is out or mention that so-and-so’s nutty sister is still in the institution or just got out of the slammer.
  • They add mood and comic relief. Example: Joe Pesci in a Mel Gibson movie.
  • They can be places the hero might not be able to be. This works especially well in a first person narrative. The main character can’t be everywhere, so Old Clem can fill our hero in on what’s happening somewhere else.

Gas pump

  • They can advance the plot. Sometimes you need to dump information without making it sound like an information dump. When the old lady down the street can tell our hero every move of the mysterious guy who rents the small house on the corner, get out of the way and let her blab.
  • In mysteries, Secondary Characters are called suspects… or victims.

 

Flat vs. Round Characters (Amongst our Minor Players)

 

Flat characters can be described in one or two sentences. They fit their surroundings, sometimes the way they dress tells us if we are in the city or a rural environment. Since they have a minor part, often they don’t need a name because they aren’t on stage or the page very long.

 

Example: The butler, with the demeanor of an undertaker, escorted the police detective and the other officer to the business wing of the large house with solemnity befitting a funeral procession. It was slow and wordless, like a bizarre pantomime. The men were ushered inside the large workroom and the door firmly shut behind them.     From “A Perfect Alibi” in From Light TO DARK by G.B. Pool

 

The term “butler” alone says we aren’t in a flop house in the Bowery. If you are writing a short story you can eliminate a lot of unnecessary words by dropping in a character who fits a particular situation.

 

Round characters are those who have something to say about the situation. They inform the reader and/or the main character of facts not readily available.

 

 

Example: She stood there, all five foot-one of her, petite, platinum hair, looking up at me through glasses thicker than the bottom of a shot glass. She must have been eighty-five. Why did I seem to attract folks lingering in God’s waiting room?

“You’re Johnny Casino, aren’t you?” she said, her faded blue eyes squinting at me, sizing me up. “You came to my house when you were looking for that dead girl, didn’t you? She wasn’t dead, was she?”

I managed a “no,” but that was all.

“I told you I heard their voices. All those dead girls. They’re still there, you know?”

I remembered her, all right. She looked like Ruth Gordon in that Clint Eastwood movie with the orangutan. Just another nutty old lady who sees things that aren’t there and hears things that were never said. She swore she could feel the vibes from scores of dead girls buried in her backyard.

“Have you talked to the sheriff?” I said, resuming my quest for the perfect cold brew.

“He thinks I’m crazy.” She tugged my sleeve. “But I’m not.”

“We found the missing girl,” I said over my shoulder. “She wasn’t dead. You don’t need to worry anymore.”

“These girls are dead. I can feel it. I hear them screaming, ‘Stop! Stop! You’re killing me, or am I already dead?’”

From “The Snuff That Dreams Are Made Of” in The Johnny Casino Casebook 2 by G.B. Pool

 

The fact that this is an old lady is slowly revealed one word at a time until we get to the thick glasses part. She adds to her part by not letting the detective get a word in edge-wise. The old lady gives Johnny information that he needs to solve this case. And she has personality up the wazoo.

 Typewriter Vintage

Here’s a brief exercise to work those creative muscles of yours.

 

Minor Character WorksheetDescribe a lumberjack or deep sea fisherman who is a minor character in a story.

 

____________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________

 

NOTE: Okay, this was a trick… If you wrote out more than a word or two about either the fisherman or the lumberjack, you were working too hard. The very fact both of these occupations come with a built-in look, all you had to do was mention that occupation. Most readers will assume you mean the guy with the yellow slicker and wading boots on a fishing boat or the big guy with the plaid shirt and an ax over his shoulder in the woods. You needn’t go much further than that unless there is something unique about the guy like maybe one is three-feet tall or one had a peg leg. Stock characters are just that. A mention of their occupation or places they frequent tells the reader all he or she needs to know. Save your word count for something important.

 

Without a handful of great characters, all you have is a travel guide. Readers want someone to care about and be willing to travel with, but in a short story you will have fewer people to go along for the ride. In your novel, you can have a few more of these folks to carry your story along.

But remember this, if the character has no purpose, if he isn’t imparting valuable information or if she isn’t describing the surroundings, eliminate them. You can also combine several of your walk-ons into one character so you don’t have too many folks populating your story.

 

PeopleAlso, if you have too many minor characters, they will start to clutter up your story. Your reader won’t know if he is supposed to remember this character or if the person is just an information-dropping entity.

 

If you don’t give the minor character a name, it will be assumed they aren’t a major player. That might help. But most of all make sure they have a reason for being there. Remember, there are no small parts…

 

 

 

 

YAK SHAVING REVISITED…. by Rosemary Lord

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.

Boxes

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.

 

Yak

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.

Shelves

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.

 

Open Your Story with a BANG! PART TWO by G.B. Pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A while back I posted Part One of this Blog. Here’s the rest of the story…

There are a few other things to think about while you are writing that OPENING to your story. Remember, it might be the only thing an agent or editor reads. Make him or her want to read the rest of it.

How To Open a Great Short Story using the 5 Basic Elements covered in Aristotle’s The Poetics: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, and the General Theme or Point of Your Story (Man Against Nature Man Against Man; Man Against Himself; Love Conquers All, etc.)

 

The perfect plot is simple, not complex. Aristotle from The Poetics

 
1. The Plot in a Short Story especially, but most stories in general should –

 
a. Have a beginning, middle, and an end, but start in the middle of the beginning. This makes the reader want to see what he missed so he keeps turning those pages. EXAMPLE: “I already told you. I met the guy in a bar. We got to talking. Somehow he knew I’d been in trouble with the law before.” (Something bad has already taken place and this guy is explaining it.)

 

b. Get to the point with very little, if any, backstory. You can add that later. EXAMPLE: “But you’re married, Janice.” (Obviously something has elicited this reaction. Now the reader will want to know what Janice has been up to.)

 
c. Hook the reader with a compelling reason to continue reading; an “out-of-whack” event; something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next. EXAMPLE: “How long has he been in the water?” I asked, knowing by the bloated, blue body it was too long. What was left of the corpse’s clothes had shredded, exposing large masses of distended flesh. – From Damning Evidence – by G.B. Pool – (Obviously our private detective will have another murder to solve.)

 
d. A story-worthy problem or situation is the heart and soul of your story; your annual Christmas letter doesn’t cut it, neither does just a series of bad things happening to someone; there has to be some extenuating circumstances that brought about this calamity.

 
e. Or have something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next: EXAMPLE: John Smith didn’t know he was an amnesiac. He discovered that and the fact he was married to two women when one of them turned up dead.

 
f. Make sure the Opening Scene has some relevance to the rest of the story, whether it actually figures into the plot or echoes the theme. Opening in a beautiful flower garden better reveal a dead body in the posies. Or hearing about a long ago train wreck better foretell another “train wreck.”

 

2. Characters
a. Don’t introduce all your characters at once, but begin with an important one.
b. Don’t over describe your characters at first; leave some traits for later, but start with something compelling like the smoking gun in her hand.
c. And remember, actions always speak louder than words, so have your character do something or see something right away.

3. Dialogue: It gets you into the story fast and moves the story along even faster than merely telling the story.

 
a. Dialogue can set the stage (EXAMPLE: “The bridge is out!”), define a character’s education level or regional origin by their accent (EXAMPLE: “Honey, did y’all get another dawg?”) or get into a character’s personality (EXAMPLE: “I loathe you,” she said, grinding her cigarette into the back of his hand. “Have a nice day.”)

 
b.Dialogue, whether it’s an internal monologue or between two people, performs a major function. (If it doesn’t, rewrite it.)

 
i. Dialogue with occasional body language enhances (describes) the character; (EXAMPLE: “Go ahead. Date my ex-wife,” he said and then slammed his fist into the wall.)

 
ii. Dialogue advances the plot (EXAMPLE: My name is Johnny Casino. I’m a retired P.I. with a past. I just hope it doesn’t catch up with me. Before I went legit, I ran numbers in Jersey for Big Louie “Fingers” D’Abruzzo and then busted heads in Miami for Big Eddie “Mambo” Fontaine. But at the ripe old age of twenty-four, Little Johnny beat a hasty retreat to L.A. when somebody slipped the cops a hot tip and all of a sudden, I became the fall guy for the Mob.) FROM THE JOHNNY CASINO CASEBOOK 1 – PAST IMPERFECT BY G.B. POOL

 
iii. And Dialogue gets you up close and personal as if you were eavesdropping on the conversation; EXAMPLE: Before Donald got out of his chair to greet me, I launched. “Are you out of your freaking mind? Marrying somebody before you even buried your wife! Do you want me to save your butt or direct traffic to your hanging?” I was speaking in a crescendo, starting around contralto, and ending somewhere in the soprano range.
“I never loved my wife!” he declared in clear basso profundo.
“Did you kill her?” I yelled.
“No!” he shot back.
Note: As the dialogue gets more intense, the fewer words are used.)
4. Have a terrific Setting or Sense of Place.
You want to set the stage whether it’s an attic room or a ballroom, a secluded path or a desert vista. Paint that background and then get out of the way and let your characters experience it.
EXAMPLE: It was going to be the hottest damn day of the year. Those Santa Anas were kicking up, turning the L.A. basin into a blast furnace. If it didn’t cool off, half the state would catch fire. From “Heat” G.B. Pool

 
5. The Point of the Story
Reread your story and ask yourself: Does this make sense? Does your opening tie in with the ending? Does the Title fit the story?
The Opening: I couldn’t believe they found Brad’s body. I thought I buried him deeper. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

The Closing: “They think an animal killed him, dug a shallow trench to hide his kill for later, and must have forgotten where it was buried.” He walked closer and put his warm hand on my arm. “It was ruled…death by cougar.”
Aaron smashed the plastic bag containing the vodka bottle against the fireplace and the glass shattered. Then he took my hand and led me upstairs.
I’ll always wonder if he ever read that “cougar” book, but I’ll never ask. Lovers have to have some secrets. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

(FROM THE OPENING, Our protagonist obviously had something to do with Brad’s death. At the CLOSING, her boyfriend must know it, too, but they will both postpone the inevitable until later.)
As for the TITLE, “A Role to Die For,” several people died while she was securing those roles. That’s showbiz…

In Conclusion: This might be a lot to think about, but opening your story well will have readers follow it to the end… and maybe read your next story. Write On…

typewriter

Open Your Story with a BANG! PART TWO by G.B. Pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

A while back I posted Part One of this Blog. Here’s the rest of the story…

There are a few other things to think about while you are writing that OPENING to your story. Remember, it might be the only thing an agent or editor reads. Make him or her want to read the rest of it.

AristotleHow To Open a Great Short Story using the 5 Basic Elements covered in Aristotle’s The Poetics: Plot, Character, Dialogue, Setting, and the General Theme or Point of Your Story (Man Against Nature Man Against Man; Man Against Himself; Love Conquers All, etc.)
The perfect plot is simple, not complex. Aristotle from The Poetics
1. The Plot in a Short Story especially, but most stories in general should –
a. Have a beginning, middle, and an end, but start in the middle of the beginning. This makes the reader want to see what he missed so he keeps turning those pages. EXAMPLE: “I already told you. I met the guy in a bar. We got to talking. Somehow he knew I’d been in trouble with the law before.” (Something bad has already taken place and this guy is explaining it.)

 

b. Get to the point with very little, if any, backstory. You can add that later. EXAMPLE: “But you’re married, Janice.” (Obviously something has elicited this reaction. Now the reader will want to know what Janice has been up to.)

 
c. Hook the reader with a compelling reason to continue reading; an “out-of-whack” event; something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next. EXAMPLE: “How long has he been in the water?” I asked, knowing by the bloated, blue body it was too long. What was left of the corpse’s clothes had shredded, exposing large masses of distended flesh. – From Damning Evidence – by G.B. Pool – (Obviously our private detective will have another murder to solve.)

 
d. A story-worthy problem or situation is the heart and soul of your story; your annual Christmas letter doesn’t cut it, neither does just a series of bad things happening to someone; there has to be some extenuating circumstances that brought about this calamity.

 
e. Or have something that changes the protagonist’s world profoundly and the reader just has to know what happens next: EXAMPLE: John Smith didn’t know he was an amnesiac. He discovered that and the fact he was married to two women when one of them turned up dead.

 
f. Make sure the Opening Scene has some relevance to the rest of the story, whether it actually figures into the plot or echoes the theme. Opening in a beautiful flower garden better reveal a dead body in the posies. Or hearing about a long ago train wreck better foretell another “train wreck.”

 

2. Characters
a. Don’t introduce all your characters at once, but begin with an important one.
b. Don’t over describe your characters at first; leave some traits for later, but start with something compelling like the smoking gun in her hand.
c.. And remember, actions always speak louder than words, so have your character do something or see something right away.

3. Dialogue: It gets you into the story fast and moves the story along even faster than merely telling the story.
a. Dialogue can set the stage (EXAMPLE: “The bridge is out!”), define a character’s education level or regional origin by their accent (EXAMPLE: “Honey, did y’all get another dawg?”) or get into a character’s personality (EXAMPLE: “I loathe you,” she said, grinding her cigarette into the back of his hand. “Have a nice day.”)
b. Dialogue, whether it’s an internal monologue or between two people, performs a major function. (If it doesn’t, rewrite it.)
i. Dialogue with occasional body language enhances (describes) the character; (EXAMPLE: ““Go ahead. Date my ex-wife,” he said and then slammed his fist into the wall.)
ii. Dialogue advances the plot (EXAMPLE: My name is Johnny Casino. I’m a retired P.I. with a past. I just hope it doesn’t catch up with me. Before I went legit, I ran numbers in Jersey for Big Louie “Fingers” D’Abruzzo and then busted heads in Miami for Big Eddie “Mambo” Fontaine. But at the ripe old age of twenty-four, Little Johnny beat a hasty retreat to L.A. when somebody slipped the cops a hot tip and all of a sudden, I became the fall guy for the Mob.) FROM THE JOHNNY CASINO CASEBOOK 1 – PAST IMPERFECT BY G.B. POOL
iii. And dialogue gets you up close and personal as if you were eavesdropping on the conversation; EXAMPLE: Before Donald got out of his chair to greet me, I launched. “Are you out of your freaking mind? Marrying somebody before you even buried your wife! Do you want me to save your butt or direct traffic to your hanging?” I was speaking in a crescendo, starting around contralto, and ending somewhere in the soprano range.
“I never loved my wife!” he declared in clear basso profundo.
“Did you kill her?” I yelled.
“No!” he shot back.
Note: As the dialogue gets more intense, the fewer words are used.)
4. Have a terrific Setting or Sense of Place.
You want to set the stage whether it’s an attic room or a ballroom, a secluded path or a desert vista. Paint that background and then get out of the way and let your characters experience it.
EXAMPLE: It was going to be the hottest damn day of the year. Those Santa Anas were kicking up, turning the L.A. basin into a blast furnace. If it didn’t cool off, half the state would catch fire. From “Heat” G.B. Pool

 
5. The Point of the Story
Reread your story and ask yourself: Does this make sense? Does your opening tie in with the ending? Does the Title fit the story?
The Opening: I couldn’t believe they found Brad’s body. I thought I buried him deeper. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

The Closing: “They think an animal killed him, dug a shallow trench to hide his kill for later, and must have forgotten where it was buried.” He walked closer and put his warm hand on my arm. “It was ruled…death by cougar.”
Aaron smashed the plastic bag containing the vodka bottle against the fireplace and the glass shattered. Then he took my hand and led me upstairs.
I’ll always wonder if he ever read that “cougar” book, but I’ll never ask. Lovers have to have some secrets. FROM “A ROLE TO DIE FOR” BY G.B.POOL

(FROM THE OPENING, Our protagonist obviously had something to do with Brad’s death. At the Closing, her boyfriend must know it, too, but they will both postpone the inevitable until later.)
As for the TITLE, “A Role to Die For,” several people died while she was securing those roles. That’s showbiz…

In Conclusion: This might be a lot to think about, but opening your story well will have readers follow it to the end… and maybe read your next story. Write On…

Short Story Workshop

Join Mike Befeler and G.B. Pool (Gayle Bartos-Pool) at the Glendale Central Downtown Library (222 E. Harvard Street, Glendale, CA) this coming Saturday, January 20, from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. when they teach a short story workshop for all you writers out there.  anatomy-book-cover

If you aren’t in the area, you can find Gayle’s book, Anatomy of a Short Story Workbook, on Amazon. It covers even more than the class and has oodles of examples.

Hope to see you there!

 

Gayle and Mike

’Tis the Season

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It’s that time of year when the hustle and bustle of the holidays fills your heart with dread and anticipation… Did I say dread? Yep. The dread of what to get some of those people on your Christmas List.

 

If that significant other or friends or relatives gave you a Wish List, you’re lucky. But a lot of us are left panicking at the last moment about what to give somebody on our gift list.

 

Might I give you a suggestion?

 

How about a book?

books-on-shelf

The Writers-in-Residence ladies have a few new books out this year, but I’m not going to limit this pitch to just our tomes (even though they are listed at the end of this article). There are a lot of other books available. Of course, I recommend the classics. But some good books are from new writers. Some are the next book in a favorite series that you might have enjoyed and now might want to share with friends.

 

But there is another reason for me mentioning BOOKS. People aren’t reading as much anymore. WHY? Some schools think the classics are passe and sometimes their reading list leaves a lot to be desired. Here in the Los Angeles area, many of my favorite bookstores have closed. Amazon might have taken away customers, but those stores were a great place to browse and they will be missed. After all, it’s hard to browse through the “shelves” at Amazon. But you can get a book in a day or two delivered to your door. That’s nice. Or the Kindle version is available instantly. But why aren’t people, adults and children, reading as much anymore?

 

No imagination.

 

Movies with car chases and explosions don’t stimulate the imagination. They just drag you along for the ride. The viewer doesn’t bring anything to the party, as it were. As for video games, maybe you get to blow things up or destroy another dozen zombies or a peasant village, but when the game is finished you can start again and do roughly the same thing over and over and over. Boring. These games without a story or characters behind them actually go nowhere.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

That brings me back to BOOKS. They can take you places. They introduce you to new worlds and exciting people. They stimulate your imagination to, dare I say it… dream about things. They can help kids set goals in life. They can help adults get their lives in order in case they are going through a rough patch. Or they can just entertain. Nothing wrong with that.

 

Let me introduce you to a little fellow who turns up in a particular Christmas book that I can highly recommend. His name is Orville. He starts out as an egg left under the seat of Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. The egg was left by a wizard with a note saying: Take care of this egg. DO NOT EAT. When the egg hatches, Orville, who happens to be a dragon, has come into the world on a mission. Orville is a special dragon. You see, he is what lights the fire of imagination under people when they READ.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Young Orville learns a few lessons as he is growing up. He learns the value of the information in books and also about what the world would be like if there were no books… What a horrible thought.

 

This is why we here at The Writers-in-Residence introduce you to new books, both ours and others, just to stimulate your imagination. If you are a parent or have children on your gift giving list, think about giving them a book this year. Something to light that fire under those growing minds before they forget how to dream. And maybe your friends might like something to sooth them during trying times or spur them on when they need a little push in the right direction.

 

It’s the imagination that created every invention, opened frontiers, and let people realize there are others in this world who matter, too. Books stimulate the imagination. READ ON.

 

Have a very Happy Holiday, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah.

 

These are a few of our most recent books.

Autumn-Gold, SFB cover photoFBRTMMFront300dpi1200pixFrontCoverOnly300dpi (002)An Almost Perfect MurderHollywood Then and NowBad to the BonePetal in the Wind III

Second Chance Book CoverEvery Castle Needs a Dragon

 

REMEMBER, REMEMBER…

Thanksgiving card

Goodness – November already! November is the month we have an abundance of remembrances.

“Remember, remember, the fifth of November: gunpowder, treason and plot…” – so begins the children’s rhyme about the failed gunpowder plot of 1605 by Guy Fawkes, who tried to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London. Traditionally, on chilly November 5th evenings, we celebrated with bonfires in the garden where, as kids, we burned effigies of Guy Fawkes (simply known as ‘guys’), roasted jacket potatoes in the fire and drank steaming mugs of hot cocoa in the dark, as the grown-ups set off fire-works. For days prior to this, young children would parade their ‘guys’ around the streets on carts, asking for “a penny for the guy” – to earn money to buy the fireworks. Somehow, I don’t think this happens today… but it was fun while it lasted.

 

Every third Thursday of the eleventh month, Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, when we remember how thankful we are for living in America. We recall the many people and things we have to be thankful for and remember those brave pioneers, the Pilgrims and the early settlers who paved the way for us. In America, this is the biggest family holiday when we celebrate with turkey, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings.

And there is Remembrance Day: at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, Great Britain and allied and Commonwealth countries observe two minutes silence to honor those fallen in combat. November 11th marked the end of World War One in 1918 and November eleventh is still honored to this day. Also known as ‘Poppy Day,’ The British Legion sells red poppies that are worn in the days preceding November 11th, as a mark of respect, and wreaths of poppies are placed on public monuments.

In the United States, November 11th is Veterans’ Day – formerly called Armistice Day – and honors all those who served in the military in various conflicts. (In America, Memorial Day at the end of May, honors all those who lost their lives in these conflicts.)

This Remembrance, or Veterans’ Day, I was in London, viewing the seas of red poppies wherever I looked. So forgive me if I share once again, the comments I had written a couple of years ago, on the occasion of this solemn, yet so very proud, moving, tradition:

EaglesUp

We honor all those ordinary – yet extraordinary – folk who have stood between us and harm’s way throughout the ages. They sacrificed their lives so that we could have the freedom to live on.

In England we call November 11th Remembrance Day, when we remember all those who lost their lives in various conflicts. The Remembrance Poppy was inspired by the poem “In Flanders Field” written in May 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, after he noticed all the red poppies that had grown over the graves where so many soldiers, nurses and others were buried in that far off Belgian field in the first World War.

Since 1919, our fallen ones have been commemorated in England with two minutes silence at the 11th hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month. This marks the end of World War One, known as The Great War, in 1918.

Since then, time stands still in Britain for these two minutes. In London, as Big Ben rings the last stroke, traffic comes to a stand-still. Red London buses, black taxi-cabs and delivery vans come to a halt in central London and throughout the country. Pedestrians stop, many bow their heads as a sign of respect for all those who have fallen in conflicts since then. So much is said in that two minutes silence.

In their honor we wear artificial red poppies in the days leading up to Remembrance or Armistice Day – known as Veterans Day in America – as we all unite in paying our respects to those who sacrificed so much to give us our freedom.

And I am truly humbled and embarrassed that I had been moaning about my too-busy life and not having enough time to write. Those we remember on this day would love to have lived long enough to have such simple problems.

We remember and honor the fallen today, as the tradition says, LEST WE FORGET.

Sky Flag

Rosemary Lord 2017

(Rosemary is out of the country visiting relatives so I put up her post today, but these are her thoughts and words, my friends. But I, too, share her wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.)