Archive for January, 2013

Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.

Dorothy Parker

Sometimes in writers’ blogs the issue of cuss words and blasphemy and other fun literary details raises its head and commenters take pro or anti stands.  I thought of this issue yet again when, a few days ago, Carol Kilgore over at Under the Tiki Hut had a guest writer who had come up with an original and clever way to avoid language she found offensive.  (The writer is Colby Marshall  and her book is a thriller called Chain of Command.)

Personally, I believe that writers should have the freedom to tell their stories in whatever way they please.  As for my own writing, I can tell you that I seldom use four-letter words but find it impossible to avoid them, and in my day-to-day life I sure as hell use them.  But while I’m not the squeaky clean sort, I thought it’d be fun to pay poetic homage to an invented writer who is.


There once was a writer who wouldn’t

Use swear words or blaspheme and couldn’t

Take the Lord’s name in vain

and would frequently strain

To use much cleaner words when he shouldn’t.


For scatology he’d substitute

The word feces, crap, doo-doo or poop.

Merde was too French,

Turd had an odd stench,

And anything stronger was moot


The F word he held as most crude.

His characters never are lewd,

Hence intercourse, coitus

Or shag interruptus

Are banned, and no one is screwed.


Okay, I shoulda written another verse or two, but that’s all I could come up with on a Sunday night.

So in closing, and in the spirit of this subject, I’m giving you a joke one writer played on his friend.  Our cleanest and dirtiest fellow writers would enjoy it.

To the Editor: I would like to know what kind of goddamn govment this is that discriminates between two common carriers and makes a goddam railroad charge everybody equal and lets a goddam man charge any goddam price he wants to for his goddam opera box.

(signed) W.D. Howells

Howell, it is an outrage the way the govment is acting so I sent this complaint to N.Y. Times with your name signed because it would have more weight.

(signed) Mark Twain

Sigh. Where did my weekend go? Why didn’t I get more writing done?

I mean, it’s not like I spent it cleaning my place.  My only housekeeping was to vacuum for the first time in two weeks, but with cat hair covering my keyboard and desk, it’s not like I had a choice.  Then I ran a few errands. Exercised.  Went to that 2:30 a.m. showing at the Van Gogh exhibit I told you about.  But that’s it.

So why is it the only writing I got done over two days was two hours of editing on Saturday?

See, I had big plans to enter all my redlines and changes into the computer (I mostly edit in longhand).  I also planned to edit several more chapters.   But here it is late Sunday night and I got squat.

One of the benefits of planning to swear off writing at the end of 2013 is that I can finally acknowledge I DON’T HAVE TIME TO WRITE NOVELS!  Especially not my chocked-full-of-historical-details tomes that call for endless research and meticulous proofing.

Oh, for the wonderful life of the successful full-time writer.  The kind of creature who doesn’t have to hold down a full-time day job.  Who doesn’t have money concerns.  Who can travel and enjoy life and…

Ah, hell!  I can’t even imagine what that would be like.

Anyway, I mentioned cat hair, which brings up the subject of pets, which brings up a story in the New York Times, “A Cat’s 200-Mile Trek Home Leaves Scientists guessing.”  It’s yet another tale of a pet that was lost on vacation but found it’s way back home – and yes, the kitty had a microchip so there’s no mistaken identity here. OMG, I love these kind of stories.  Yes, they’re sentimental, but the mystery of HOW some pets know things they just plain shouldn’t know always intrigues me.

Here’s a personal story.  Years ago my parents were a young couple and living in a suburb of Denver.  My Dad was with the U.S. Geological Survey and spending a few weeks doing field work in Wyoming.  One night my Mom went to bed, but their dog Puppsie wouldn’t let her sleep.  He kept nudging her and acting excited and hanging around the front door.  Finally my Mom got up and was sitting in the kitchen when my father suddenly arrived home.  He wasn’t supposed to return for another day, and back then long-distance phone calls from phone booths were expensive, so he never told my mother about his change of plans.  Puppsie happily greeted him and then went off and fell asleep.

There’s a book by an English biologist that’s called “Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home,” and one of these days I’m going to read it.  The author, Rupert Sheldrake, wrote another book that I did read called “The Presence of the Past: Morphic Resonance and the Memory of Nature.”  He has this theory about a collective memory in nature which will either freak you out or fascinate you.  I’m fascinated.

Any strange animal stories of your own to tell?  How do you find time to write? Or do you have to sacrifice other parts of your life just so you can write?

Right now it’s about -5 degrees outside.

Which is yet another reason why I’m fantasizing yet again about running away to live on a tropical island.  Or up on a hill on a tropical coast, above a private cove with sparking water and in a house that Tarzan or Sheena would live in if they ever got down outta the trees.

See, I’ve never been able to handle the cold. Ever.  I wear gloves if the temperature drops to 50.  I’m ready for heavy wool underwear if the barometer drops below freezing.  I look at the extraordinary adventurer Ranulph Fiennes who at the age of 68 is now heading a six-person team that will be crossing Antarctica over the next twelve months, and I figure I’d be dead of frostbite before I even stepped off the ship taking me there.  (BTW, they’ll be crossing the continent in winter when temperatures can drop to -170 degrees.  And yes, he’s related to the actor Ralph Fiennes, aka Voldemort)

So it’s kinda weird that one of my other home fantasies is to have an old country place (okay, a big honkin’ estate) in the Irish countryside.  That’s right. I could go live in foggy, damp, chilly Ireland.  But then I know that the toasty coast of North Africa is close by, should I need some time in the warm sun. Casablanca, anyone?

A long while back I wrote here about the archeologist Kent Weeks and his wife, who to my way of thinking lead an ideal life. For six months of the year they work in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt while living on a converted houseboat on the Nile. For the other six months they go to Cairo, London, and New England, all the while continuing their breakthrough work in Egyptology.

OMG, what I wouldn’t give to do the same.

Here’s a smaller fantasy that maybe someday I’ll be able to fulfill: I want to go to a funky, small diving place on the Red Sea where I’ll spend several days with friends and locals Scuba diving and hanging out and exploring the area.  Then for a few weeks or a couple months I’d travel with Bedouin around the Sinai Desert.  Then from there I’d go to Jordan and, if possible, work alongside archeologists studying the Petra ruins, or go back to Egypt and work alongside archeologists there as a pretty useless but enthusiastic volunteer.

After a couple more months I’d want to stop in Ireland on the way back home because I’ll be longing for long chats about books and life while sitting in pubs and kitchens with cousins, and just enjoy the clouds and rain, which you pretty much never see in always hot and sunny upper Egypt.

Anyway, that’s one of my home-and-travel fantasies.  Do you have your own?  Of course you do.  You’re writers and readers, so you’ve got wild imaginations.

At the end of this post I have a little note about myself, but first I’m presenting the most important news, which is (drum roll, please)…

Carol Kilgore has a new book out!  Please note that it wisely has the word compass in it, as in Solomon’s Compass.  For obvious reasons I love that word in a title.  Here’s the reveal for the gorgeous cover and the blurb…


A missing belt—her uncle’s prized possession. The lure of buried treasure. And a sexy former SEAL who makes U.S. Coast Guard Commander Taylor Campbell crazy. What more could any woman want. Right?

Taylor is in Rock Harbor, Texas, on a quest to unearth her uncle’s treasure—a journey far outside the realm of her real life. There’s one glitch. Taylor’s certain the buried treasure was all in Uncle Randy’s dementia-riddled mind. Now he’s dead.

Former SEAL Jake Solomon is in Rock Harbor under false pretenses to protect Taylor from the fate that befell her uncle and the other members of a tight circle of Coast Guardsmen called the Compass Points who served together on Point boats in Vietnam.

Jake is definitely not supposed to become involved with Taylor. That was his first mistake. Taylor is attracted to Jake as well, but she refuses to wait for him to locate the killer when she knows her plan will force her uncle’s murderer into action.

But the killer’s actions are just what Jake is afraid of.



Carol Kilgore has always had stories and characters in her head, but she didn’t know she should write them down until about a dozen years ago. Once she started, she couldn’t stop.

Her first published short story won the Derringer Award for Best Short-Short Mystery. She continued to write short fiction for a few years and also enjoyed a small success as a freelancer before giving it all up for her true love—novels.

Carol writes a blend of mystery, suspense, and romance she calls Crime Fiction with a Kiss. Always at least one crime; always a love story. Solomon’s Compass is her second published novel.

As the wife of a Coast Guard officer, Carol has lived in locations across the U.S. She and her husband now live in a San Antonio suburb and share their home and patio with two active herding dogs that keep them free from all danger, real or imagined.

You can find Carole here:

Carol really is a sweet lady and a fine writer.  Check her out.


And now a small note about myself, which is:

I have really got to stop procrastinating.

See, there’s a major, world exclusive exhibition of 70 of Van Gogh’s paintings at the Denver Art Museum.  I think it opened in October and will be gone on January 21.   This is such a big deal people are flying in from other cities to see it, and I’ve wanted to head down to the museum myself (it’s all of five minutes away from me).  So  when am I gonna see it?

At 2:30 a.m. on January 20.

That’s right.  I procrastinated so much that the only time I could buy tickets was for between 2:30 a.m. and 4:00 a.m. on the morning it closes.  And only because the museum is having a marathon showing in the final 24 hours of the exhibit because the demand has been that overwhelming.  That’s 2:30 a.m. on a Sunday night.   And I gotta go to work on Monday morning.

One of these days I’ll learn.