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Showing posts from 2016

Cross-post: A year in memoriam

CultureGeek post: A Year in Memoriam, remembering those we've lost in 2016. This took a while to compile.

Snippets: Christmas edition

Background: I have a tendency to overuse the word "suddenly." I seriously am going to have to do a find/replace on the next book to kill that word throughout the manuscript once I'm done with the rewrite.

ME: Suddenly! Again!
WRITER1: Have you considered the use of a thesaurus?
ME: Grrrr.
WRITER2: I have a Lionel Richie song running through my head now thank you!
ME: That's what you get. My pain is your pain.
WRITER2: And you wonder why I brought wine.

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Texting...

ME: Merry Christmas kiddo!
BOY: Merry Christmas mom
ME: We opened all your presents and are playing with your toys.
BOY: LOL

I no longer have him fooled, dangit.

ME: What do you call an elf who sings?
ME: A wrapper!
ME: What do you call a kid who doesn't believe in Santa?
ME: A rebel without a Claus!
ME: ...
ME: Nothing? Wow, tough room.
BOY: Yeah.
ME: I got lots more.
BOY: ...

BOY: *sends third attempt at texting game*
ME: I give up. This thing does not work.
BOY: Maybe it's ur phone, get it f…

Snow Day Bake-a-palooza

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In case you hadn't noticed, we got shellacked by an ice storm this weekend. Friday was bad enough that we aborted a trip to Wal-mart after it took half an hour to go four blocks.

We ventured out on Saturday, as I had a signing and Boy had a job interview. The interview went okay, but the signing was canceled two hours in due to encroaching bad weather. Then church was canceled for Sunday, so we snuggled in for the remainder of the weekend.

That means baking!



Our annual tradition of gingerbread cookies incorporates Man and Boy playing with the cookie cutters. My collection is a mix of my own acquisitions, my mother's donations from three decades ago, and her own grandmother's hand-me-downs that could be a century old by now. One of them always sculpts something unusual - this year, Boy created a snowman, held together by icing.

Boy also demonstrated a natural talent for decoration, and I believe I may retire permanently. I have zero skill with the icing bag, and Jim's c…

Sock Snippets

Overheard in the newsroom, among the talented, smart, young people who have recently joined us...

COPY EDITOR 1:I found a gray hair once.
COPY EDITOR 2: No way.
ME: I don't want to hear it from either of you!
BOTH: *laughter)
COPY EDITOR 1: Seriously! I found this gray hair while I was working at (other newspaper) and I thought, "What have you done to me?"
ME: Welcome to journalism.
BOTH: *laughter*
COPY EDITOR 1: I knew she would say something.
ME: Please. I have socks older than the both of you.

As evidenced by the gentle streaks of silver growing at my temples...

The sock line is absolutely true. I have two pair of black socks remaining from the set I bought when I was hired at McDonald's in 1992. They aren't in the best of shape, but they have survived. Our wonderful young copy editors were born in 1993 and 1994 respectively, as I discovered when I was showing them the darkroom, that museum relic from an earlier age of less convenience and smelly chemicals.

A…

Post-Election* Snippets

MAN: Some of our friends need to be more careful. These highly attractive women wanting to be my friend have mutual friends with me.
ME: The highly attractive woman looking for a good man?
MAN: Yes. I get these friend requests from these gorgeous supermodels who are all about friending me and I'm all, "Delete."
ME: Now now, hon. Who's to say an attractive woman would not be falling all over herself for you?
MAN: *eyebrow of skepticism* Not these women, hon.
ME: So you're saying there's no way an attractive woman would be attracted to you?
MAN: That's right.
ME: So you're saying I'm not attractive?
MAN: ...
MAN: ...
ME: *wide grin*
MAN: Woman!
ME: *guffaw* Oh honey. It's right in front of you, a giant pit, and you go and just jump on in.

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BOY: What's for dinner?
ME: Food.
BOY: There are mashed potatoes on the counter, but no other food.
ME: Yes there is. There's a roast in the oven.
BOY: *makes face* Roast?
ME: Yes. A carefully sea…

Happy birthday, Uncle Walter

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This weekend I had the privilege of speaking at the Walter Cronkite Conference on Media Ethics and Integrity. I was pretty nervous, as I'd never done an academic conference before - SPJ conventions, guest speaker at local universities, and of course, cons. No one at the Cronkite Conference was dressed as Pennywise the Clown, however.

Somehow I missed that the conference was scheduled to coincide with Cronkite's 100th birthday, which was celebrated at the Walter Cronkite Memorial on Friday along with the unveiling of Phase IV of the memorial.




We were treated to an amazing three-act play developed by the memorial staff titled "And That's the Way It Is: Cronkite's Journey." This show has been taken on the road and performed all the way to D.C. If it is ever in your area, you owe it to yourself to catch it. Actor Jim Korinke does a spot-on Walter Cronkite, and the gentlemen playing Harry Truman and Martin Luther King Jr. are pretty amazing themselves.

Act One foc…

Return of Snippets

Hey look, I still have a blog! The Fall Deathmarch Tour ate me. I was going to blog about New Orleans, and Memphis, and Louisville, and Dupo, and all the other places I've traveled for the last six weeks. (One of those things is closer than the others.)

About searching for non-spicy non-seafood on Bourbon Street, trying to find our way out of Louisville in the middle of a marathon, my first photography award, and getting censored by Facebook. Somehow none of that got written down...

In the meantime, have these.


JIM: Trying to read Emerson. I want to die.
ME: Why?
JIM: Boooooooorrrrriiiinnnnngggg!
ME: You mean complex. Multifaceted. Challenging.
JIM: Boooooooorrrrriiiinnnnngggg!
ME: Stimulating. Formidable. Demanding.
JIM: Boooooooorrrrriiiinnnnngggg! Long overstuffed windbaggery!
ME: I'm not sure windbaggery is a word.
JIM: It is now.
ME: I'm pretty sure you're not just allowed to make up your own words, English major.
JIM: Yes I can.


CHARACTER 1: You know how to defus…

The Murder of Stephen King, or, Why We Write

How terrible for his ghostwriter.

In case you missed it a few weeks ago, James Patterson called off his novel The Murder of Stephen King. It was actually a concept with potential, though not terribly unique: a serial killer is reenacting the deaths in a famous writer's books. Too bad Patterson decided to base it on a real-life writer, one who has already done this story a couple of ways, who has actually been stalked and terrorized by crazy people, and who isn't much of a Patterson fan.
Okay, it was maybe a little unkind (or at least impolite) for King to call Patterson a terrible but very successful writer. Largely because it's public knowledge Patterson doesn't write his own books anymore. If his books are terrible, then he should probably hire better ghostwriters.

Still, this was a tacky novel concept, so I'm glad he pulled it. I name characters after real people all the time, but only with their permission. And while my friends are largely delighted to die in …

Identity theft or just really silly?

For the second time, I've reserved a room in a Chicago library.

Um, not me. The other me.

I've often joked that I must be two people at any given time, because the ethical and practical restrictions of my job require a separation between Elizabeth-me and Reporter-me. My worlds do collide, but rarely. Most of the time, the author-editor-person is doing one thing while the reporter-ethicist is doing something else. I've sometimes referred to one as my evil twin. (Note: the author is the evil one.)

But unless I've developed a serious psychological problem heretofore unknown to me, I am not reserving study rooms at a library in a Chicago suburb. However, someone is doing so with my name and email address.

The first time this happened, I received the email notification while I was on the road in.... you know, I honestly don't remember. It might have been Nashville, or Atlanta, or Kansas City. I only remember because I was sitting in my hotel room when I called the libra…

Snippets: Old Age Edition

ME: Oh no. Not possible.
JIM: What?
ME: When I started working at the newspaper, I was in the bureau office, and we had these two secretaries who answered the phone and took down messages on actual paper because well shut up, okay?
JIM: Okay.
ME: And one of those secretaries, a very nice lady named Connie, was pregnant. And she had a baby.
JIM: Okay.
ME: The baby just got her driver's license.
JIM: *chortles*
ME: Shut up! You may be used to being old, but I'm struggling with it!
JIM: I'm ooooold.
ME: Yes, I know, but I thought I was young until five minutes ago!

*******
BOY: What are you doing?
ME: Baking cookies. Chocolate chip.
BOY: What for?
ME: Scouts.
BOY: Um.
ME: What? We're all supposed to bring something.
BOY: Everybody always just brings storebought stuff.
ME: Ha. When have you ever known me to bring storebought anything when I can bake?

(Note: First attempt at cookies using the new stand mixer was a success.)

*******
ME: Honey! JCPenney is offering a special …

Fall Deathmarch and/or Stalking Guide

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Each year, I swear I'm not going to do this to myself anymore. I keep swearing....

No Dragoncon for me this year, and at the moment, I do not have any Atlanta stops planned. If there seems to be sufficient interest, I may plan a bungee stop in the spring tour, but in the meantime, I hope my Atlanta fans have an awesome Dragoncon! Buy lots of books!

Sept. 9-11: Memphis, Tenn. on personal business, but am happy to meet with anyone for books or art! Deadline for ordering is Sept. 8.

Sept. 17-21: New Orleans, La. for the Excellence in Journalism conference, at which I am honored to represent the St. Louis Pro chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists as president and delegate. A reminder to the STLSPJ crew: if you have any opinions you wish to express on the issues we will debate at EIJ, please contact me in advance. I'll be traveling via Memphis in case anyone wants to meet up.

Sept. 25: Back home. Booked to moderate/host the St. Louis Society of Professional Journalists…

Coffeehouse Review: The Abbey

This just goes to show that second chances are usually a good thing.

Waaaaaay back in the dim dark years of... um, 2011... I had a Groupon for The Abbey, a coffeehouse not far from the main office of Ye Olde Newspaper. It was not a pleasant experience. The space was okay but nothing exceptional, the food was okay (but nothing exceptional), and the server was positively growly. I didn't know if it was because I was paying with my Groupon (I tipped!) or if it was just a naturally growly place, but it put a bad taste in my mouth before I had the food.

I'd never been back. From time to time I'd be looking for a place to grab a nice lunch, maybe get a little writing done before work. I'd do a search on coffeehouses and The Abbey always popped up, but I'd remember that unpleasant server and say, "Nah."

This week I've been working in the main office on the night shift, but dropping Jim off at school meant I had two and a half hours to kill before my shift ea…

The Seven Challenge

Someone tagged me to post seven sentences from the seventh chapter of a work in progress. That left me with choosing the one in edits or the one I'm writing. So I decided to give you both. I also cheated and made it seven paragraphs, because reasons.

I'm also supposed to tag seven other writers, but I'm going to be recalcitrant and say if you want to do this, go ahead and do it! It's fun.


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From Chapter 7 of Yellow Roses:

Cat’s gaze roved over the carved-wood railings, the ornate Byzantine design of long-neglected walls and balconies. If she concentrated on that open-window image, she could see the colors and gilt flow over the sad remains of the theater and see the way it had been.
A shadowy figure stood on the balcony over stage right.
“There!” Cat pointed up at the balcony. As she spoke, the figure became clearer: the dark-haired woman she had seen in her mental window, the lovely woman in the high-necked blouse and a wide-waisted skirt. The woman stood alone in …