Maggie Pill

The Most Entertaining Cozy Author You Never Heard Of!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Your Brain on Oldies

If I were a carpenter, and you were a lady, would you marry me anyway, would you have my baby?
Baby, baby, can't you hear my heart beat?
We got the beat, we've got the beat, we've got the beat, yeah!
She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah, and you know that can't be bad.
I'm bad, I'm bad, you know it.
You know I'm no good.
Good, good, good, good vibrations.

That's how my mind has been going this morning. Nobody's gonna slow me down, oh no. I got to keep on moving...

Monday, January 18, 2016

Helpers and Squashers

I have many, many people in my writing life who help me out. My friends Paul and Debbie, for example, met with me while I was writing Murder in the Boonies and answered lots of questions about reindeer. My friend Connie reads my stuff when it's still half-baked and gives constructive criticism. My sister loves everything I write and provides encouragement.
Yay for them!

On the other hand are the people who don't help and even get in the way at times. When I was writing one mystery series, I needed information about a park in another state. I wasn't able to go there and look at it, so I wrote to the park management and asked if they'd answer some questions. I stressed that they'd be specific, like "Is the park well-lit at night?" and I offered them a free copy of the book when it came out. At first I got an enthusiastic "We'd be pleased to help." However, when I sent five questions requiring only short answers, I got no reply. I waited two weeks and asked again. No answer. I gave up and used Google Live Maps to find out what I wanted to know.

Similarly, I wrote to the police department in the same area to ask one question. When a person asks to speak to a detective, how does she get to his office: alone? escorted? does he come to meet her? No answer. Not even a "That's confidential so we can't tell you unless we kill you afterward."

Now I'm at work on the fourth Sleuth Sisters, and I need an expert on water bottling plants. I called a person who was recommended to me, asking if he'd answer some specific questions. The man isn't an expert on water bottling, but he'd researched it a few years ago for his own reasons. I was hoping he could steer me in the right direction to find someone who is an expert. When I told him the scenario he said, "That isn't feasible at all." When I explained my research had turned up something exactly like it that had happened, he said, "Well, you can't do it." When I mentioned a second case, he clammed up. Apparently he didn't want to hear about real-world examples.

I got off the phone as quickly as possible, recognizing him as a type that's very hard to work with: "I'm always right, so you must be wrong." I'll go on to someone else, someone who's willing to talk it over and not insist I can't do what I need to.

I know, it's just a mystery novel. The world won't end if I get the facts a little bit wrong or if I have to stretch things to make the plot work (I mean, look at thriller writers! If logic were to be applied there, they'd all have to quit writing.). Still, it would be nice if people who know how things work would help writers out. Like the real estate agent I talked to for this book who spent fifteen minutes hashing out how my story could go. Then he offered to read the book before publication to make sure the real estate part is believable. Or the insurance agency where three different agents came out to help me decide how the arson in the book would go.

I like Helpers a lot more than I like Squashers.

Monday, January 11, 2016

The Wrecking of the Car

I'm sitting in the left lane, waiting to make a turn, when a car coming from the other way loses control on the snowy, slippery road, does a circle, and crashes head-on into my dependable little Ford Escape (no escape from that!)
I am fine. My car is not. It manages to get me to my motel, only a few blocks away, but there it reveals extensive injuries. A few days later, the insurance company totals it out.
In the eight days since this happened, I've felt lucky, unlucky, lucky.
I'm certainly lucky to come through a head-on collision unscathed. (Well, there is a bruise on my left knee.) No one was seriously injured. I'm lucky my insurance company was so nice about it, waiving the deductible because I was sitting still at the time, minding my own business.
Unlucky? Try living without your car for a while, especially when you live in a rural area. I can borrow hubby's truck when necessary, but it isn't the same. I've had my own vehicle since I was sixteen, pretty much. I'll admit, I'm addicted to being independent.
Lucky--tomorrow we pick up my new car at the dealership. Of course it wasn't free, so that might be on the unlucky side, but I'm grateful to be able to afford it.
Overall, I'm one lucky person, even if there was a moment of abject terror when I saw that car ice-skating toward me.

Monday, January 4, 2016

The Cat & the Squirrel

First of all, let me admit that certain people of my acquaintance are beyond animal lovers. They're more like animal enablers.
Not me, of course. My cat does NOT rule my life, and I NEVER talk to her. Honest.
      Anyway, one member of our family tames whatever comes into the yard, and since they live in a city, that's mostly squirrels. If you sit on their porch, the squirrels will come up and glare at you, because you're supposed to know they get a peanut if they do that.
They've been known to come inside if the sliding door happens to be open a tiny bit, and the male in the household tends to leave it that way. I mean, we wouldn't want the squirrels to starve because they can't get in to get a peanut.
      What's odd is that their cat, who's as big as a lynx and quite the hunter when allowed outside, tolerates the squirrels and vice versa. The other day, I'm told, a squirrel came up for its peanut, and the cat pounced on it, holding it down on the porch floor. The squirrel didn't panic (I'm sure they had drills for this in squirrel school). He merely laid quietly in the cat's paws while the cat did a preliminary examination. Once he was satisfied the squirrel was carrying no weapons and wasn't strapped with explosives, he let him go. The squirrel continued on his way, got his peanut, and left.
Now why can't the world operate like that?