Monday, May 30, 2011

Hot Dogs and Burgers and Reruns, Oh My!

[I ran this post originally last Memorial Day. Since most of you probably haven't seen it, I thought it might be worth a repeat. Plus, I'm lazy, and didn't want to write a whole new one.]

Memorial Day! Bring on the burgers and hotdogs, the potato salad and cole slaw, the beer and wine and soda! Prepare to celebrate the Great American I-Am-Not-At-Work Day!

(Well, unless you're in retail. Or serving the public in a job that doesn't rest on holidays. If that's the case for you, let me say thank you for all you do. Also, sorry about that!)

And all of us, whether we're playing or working, should spare a passing thought or two for the members of our armed services, past and present, who made/make it possible for us to do whatever we do in safety and freedom.

Thank you, son-in-law. Your service in the Navy is important.

Thank you, DD, for your volunteer work with the Civil Air Patrol. That's important, too.

And a special thank you to family members now gone, like my father, who served honorably in Korea. And my husband's grandfather, Old Pap (you might remember him from this post), who got special permission to join the Army at age 40, when WWII broke out. He went in as an officer, and served throughout the campaign. As soon as the war was over, he wrote his own orders to get out, had his superior sign them (yes, pretty much nobody refused Old Pap what he wanted), and went back home to his wife and son.

His service staff loved him. Here's a gift they gave him shortly before he left:

It's a caricature of him. The certificate he's being handed by the bodiless arm says "Honorary Member...blah, blah, blah...I Hate Grimes Club." I'm fairly sure that part was ironic, because nobody could hate Old Pap. Or, if somebody did, surely they wouldn't be stupid enough to present him with a commemorative drawing stating the fact.

Anyway, we have it hanging in our upstairs hallway, a reminder of him that makes me smile every time I pass it. It's a virtual snapshot of a man in his prime, during the time of his life that defined him.

Old Pap was, well, old, by the time I met him. Old and infirm. He walked with a cane, breathed with difficulty due to his emphysema, and was sometimes hard to understand because he only had half a tongue (don't smoke!). But I am happy to edit my memory of him to include his earlier, stronger period, using, among other things, the caricature he was so proud of to overlay strength onto my mental image of the grandfather I came to love.

In a way, all our memories are caricatures of life. Our minds pick and choose what to highlight, exaggerating the bits and pieces that stand out to us for whatever reason, good or bad. No way could our brains store every little detail without our "hard drives" filling up too fast. And (sadly) it's not like we can go to the local big box store for an upgrade.

(Though wouldn't that be cool? I would SO do it!)

Maybe that's why I'm so fond of caricatures as an art form. Via a few deft strokes left by a speedy hand they reveal the essence of a person.

Here's another favorite of mine--our kiddos, when they truly were kiddos, at the beach one summer:

The artist really captured both of them. I look at this and see the children they were AND the adults they've become, somehow melded. It makes me smile, too.

Looking at these pictures got me thinking. I know writers are supposed to strive to make their characters more than "mere" caricatures. And I know what is meant by that--the people you create on paper should come across as real, three-dimensional individuals, not flat, cartoon-y renderings.

I get that.

But I think an exceptional writer, like an exceptional caricaturist, can achieve a kind of three-dimensionality of spirit--as I said earlier, the essence of a person--with a few well-placed lines. No need to always drag out the oils and go for the full Dutch Masters treatment.

Sometimes a subtle, well-executed "caricature" in print can set a character in the reader's mind more effectively than pages of description, no matter how deathless the prose. And isn't that the point? To write memorable characters? I'm not saying it's the only way, or even the best way. But it's a way. :)

Hmm. Something to consider, anyway. :)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Physical Hazards of Writing, aka OUCH!

Since it's Hump Day again, let's talk about some of the physical humps a writer has to overcome.

There's Keister Spread, of course. Naturally, when a body part gets a good work out, it tends to grow. And one's keister IS pretty much in constant use while writing. This is one down side* to the rallying cry of writer's everywhere:

"Butt in chair, hands on keyboard!" 

At least there's a cool T-shirt.

Alas, even the cool T-shirt cannot make up for the other down side: repetitive stress injury. I've been pounding the keyboard a bit much lately, and have started to feel the first twinges of the dreaded carpal tunnel syndrome.

I'd really like a magic cure, please. If anyone out there knows of one, I'd sure be happy to hear about it.

(And by magic, I mean something where I can still type as much as I want to, without having to jump through too many hoops, like standing on my head, or typing suspended from the ceiling, or, yannoh, giving up my precious laptop.)

Maybe some nice counter-repetitive-stress exercises? Are there such things?

Oh, and while we're talking magic, if you have any good ideas about how to avoid Keister Spread, I'm open to that, too. As long as it doesn't involve sweating a lot. Or giving up chocolate. Or those super-tight Spanx things. Or...

Look, it would just be easier all around if one you were a magician. Come on, let me hear an "Abracadabra!"

* The up side is, of course, eventually getting a book written. Which does tend to outweigh the down side.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's that time again -- get out your verifictionaries!

We haven't dragged out the verifictionary in a while, and my definitions are piling up. Figured I'd unload some of them today.

You remember the word verification dictionary, don't you? It's where we seek to define those odd strings of letters you have to copy into the verification boxes in order to leave a comment on some blogs.

Yeah, okay. Assigning them definitions is just a way to make an annoying waste of time a little more fun. You do what you can, right? I'm all about taking life's little lemons and making lemonade. Or, better yet,  lemontinis.


*ahem* Anyway, you can find previous verifictionary posts here and here.

Today's additions (all of which, I hasten to add, were taken from blogs I read regularly -- maybe even yours):

 ALITATA  -- Alibaba's sexy sister.

ARCHANGI -- the lesser known plural of "archangel."

BODINC --  add "@" and you have the Twitter handle of "Body, Incorporated." 

COPLI -- in a policeman-like manner.

FLACH -- short for "flatulant," it's the nickname for the kid in class who passes gas a lot.

FLUMSI -- what you call someone who is both delicate and clumsy.

LAXOPEP -- a caffeinated laxative, designed to ensure you make it to the bathroom on time once it kicks in.

NONNESS -- the state of being the opposite.

PSINASTR-- pretentious spelling of "sinister."

PUNGLUT -- what happens when there's just too much wordplay going on.

SUNPRO -- someone who makes money by tanning.

So, in your blog-hopping, have you run across any interesting strings of letters that we can warp into new words? Do share!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pssst...don't tell my husband, but...

The other day TG had to go to NY on business.

And I have a horrible confession to make: while he was gone, I played around.

Yes, I did. I met a handsome, exciting guy and spent the evening with him. Sorry, I just couldn't help myself! There was a lot of hugging and kissing. Oh, the tingles! We went out to dinner together, and had a fabulous time -- thunder and lightning, baby. Thun-der and light-ning. Know what I'm sayin'? Whew! Barely got him out of here before TG was back. 

You're shocked, aren't you? Didn't think I had it in me, did you? But I swear...

Everything I just told you is absolutely true. 

*cough* But only in the following context:

I played around...on my computer. Solitaire, mostly, but also a little Mahjong.

I did meet a handsome, exciting guy. At the airport. Of course, he happens to be my son-in-law, the Navy pilot. He had a six-hour layover here, and I live close to the airport, so I picked him up. Hugged him, and kissed his cheek, as I always do. We went out to dinner -- with his parents. Lots more hugging and kissing when we met up with them.

The tingles? Took him back to the airport in the middle of a thunderstorm. Pretty terrifying.

Unfortunately, TG didn't make it back home before our son-in-law had to leave.

Uh-HUH. Sounds a bit more innocent now, doesn't? Aren't you ashamed of what you were thinking about me? As if...!


Be wary of the truth, my dear,
For, like a sieve, it's leaky.
Even if you know the facts,
Remember -- facts are sneaky.

(As are writers.) 

Philosophical question for you: Is there a difference between "truth" and "honesty"? 

I (obviously) think so. I can deceive you nine ways to Sunday without ever telling you a lie.

[Aside to TG: But not you, honey! *blink*]

And, as a writer, I try to communicate some basic truths about the human condition by making up a bunch of ridiculous crap. 

How about you? Do you ever fudge on the facts? Come on honest! ;)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Caution: Humps in the road ahead.

If there's one thing you can be sure of in the writing biz, it's that there will be humps to get over.

Now, I'm not one to knock humps. Humps can be all kinds of fun, depending. Sure, they might make you sweat, but they can be energizing! (<--Obligatory Grimes double entendre.) Of course, it helps if you know ahead of time that they're not insurMOUNTable. (Oops. I did it again...)

But, seriously, folks (no, really -- seriously, I mean it...hey, stop laughing!), you can get beyond the humps. A few suggestions, if I may be so bold...


It's amazing how many people never get over this one. They have a great idea. They start it. And then they...peter out. Whether they just stall, or are lured away by a Shiny New Idea (which they work on only until the next SNI winks at them from across the room*), they don't complete the task at hand. Bookus Interuptus. It's a sad thing**.

Solution: Come on, isn't it obvious? Finish your damn book!


Looking for the perfect agent is easier than ever, thanks to the internet. Resources abound: Twitter, Facebook, sites like -- they can provide a wealth of information to you, the discerning agent stalker writer, enabling you to locate your dream agent. Unfortunately, it also means it's easier for thousands of other stalkers writers in the same position to look too, so the Competition Sub-Hump is a bigger hazard than ever at this stage.

Solution: Polish that query until it shines! (After making sure your Damn Book is finished -- and equally shiny -- of course.)


This is where your agent comes in to help with the heavy lifting. But it's still teamwork. You may be asked to revise, and even re-revise. Your book may be rejected outright by editors, or an editor may fall in love with it and still not be able to get it past the editorial board. This may happen several times, until you feel like you're on one of those rumble strips instead of just going over a speed bump.

Solution: Hang on tight, and occupy yourself with writing the next book.


And (wait for it...) finishing it

Solution: Um, yeah. Just do it...blah-blah-blah. Do it whether your first book sells or not. 


You're catching onto my point, right? The humps never end. But the feeling of accomplishment when you get over one starts to get addictive.

Either that, or writers are basically masochistic creatures. I haven't quite decided which yet.

Are you a writer? What's the last hump you got over?

*SNIs can be treacherous sirens, enticing you away from your WIP with the promise of easy writing ahead, when really they just want to laugh as you are buffeted against the rocky shoals of chapter 17, or wherever the heck you are when it occurs to you that finishing This Damn Book isn't going to be any easier than finishing The Last Damn Book. You're just going to have to plug your ears and learn to swim through the seaweed.

**Except when it's not. There are always exceptions, and sometimes giving up on a WIP is the right thing to do. You may reach a point where you realize you won't ever have enough creative hot air (er, so to speak) to inflate that book all the way. Then it may be a good thing to check out one of your SNIs. But if you catch yourself doing this a lot, beware. You could become a Serial Book Starter, and that's not just a hump. It's a mountain.

Monday, May 16, 2011


...of paper. The pages in books, that is.

Ha-ha! Made you look. (Tee-hee.) I KNOW. What a cop out. But still...*giggles* Okay, Juvenile Moment over.

Now comes the... 


In real life, I am not much of a thrill-seeker. I am, in fact, a kind of a wimp. Driving more than ten miles an hour over the speed limit makes me nervous. Getting on an airplane requires a major pep talk (and maybe an alcoholic beverage or three). Roller coasters, in my esteemed opinion, are the invention of the devil. Crowds, with their unstable hive mind, horrify me.

Which is why I seek my thrills on the written page, either reading or writing. When it comes to the written word, I am FEARLESS!

Car chases, jet planes, kidnappings, restive throngs of iffy people? I am there.

Roller coasters? Pffft. Child's play.

Skydiving, bungee-jumping, cliff-scaling? I'm your gal.

I know, I know. Here you've become used to thinking of me as a Total Badass, and now I've disillusioned you. Sorry. But I haven't really been dishonest with you. I AM a total badass...vicariously.

And really, for a writer, isn't it all about vicariousness? (Vicariosity? Vicaritude?)

How about you -- real life badass, or only adventurous beneath the covers?*

Or maybe both, like my fellow author in the blogoverse, Dianne Salerni, who does things like step off platforms into thin air with a mere wire between her and a terrifying plunge to earth?

*You know I'm referring to books, but you're welcome to expound upon your boudoir-linen adventures if you prefer. Just don't say anything that will get me banned from Blogger. ;)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Eat, Drink, and Be Wary!

One final post for "Representative Images Week" here on the blog, wherein I am teasing you with pictures that have something to do with my book, IN A FIX. Not always precisely as depicted here, mind you. Remember, these pictures are representative.

In Monday's post, we found out my protag, Ciel Halligan, really gets around. Wednesday's post showed us some of the ways she does it. Today we'll get a preview of what she drinks and eats along the way. (Hey, a girl needs a little sustenance!)



Wow. That looks like Ciel must be eating and/or drinking ALL the time. Trust me, she's not. There IS actually a plot sandwiched *cough* in there somewhere.

What are your favorite foods? Drinks? If you're a writer, do you ever have your characters eat or drink anything you can't personally stand?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's not so much where you go as HOW you get there...

In the spirit of what I've now decided is "Representative Images Week" on the blog (why, yes, as a matter fact, it IS a busy week here at Chez Grimez -- how did you guess?), here are a few more from IN A FIX, which will be published by Tor in July 2012.

(Yeah, I know. That sounds like a long way off. Why am I teasing you now? Um...because? And, you know. Busy. Sorry.)

Monday I showed you some of the places you'll visit along with our intrepid heroine, Ciel Halligan. Today I'll share some of her conveyances:

As I said on Monday, Ciel gets around. Sometimes she does it in style. Sometimes...not so much. ;)

What's the weirdest way you've ever been conveyed from one place to another?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Oh, the places you'll go...if you read my book someday!

Since yesterday was Mother's Day, and I'm a mother, I relaxed and played with my toys. Ate good food prepared by people who are not me.

(Huh. I guess the "prepared by people who are not me" part is kind of implied by the word "good." Please excuse the redundancy. I'm a writer -- I should know better.)

I also imbibed a bit. Generally enjoyed the day. But instead of blathering on about Mother's Day, I thought I'd share some of the places Ciel Halligan, the main character in my light urban fantasy, IN A FIX, finds herself in the course of trying to get herself out of said fix.

(Trust me, these are a lot more interesting than pictures of me sitting on the sofa, eating my Mother's Day chocolate and watching Netflix movies via my new Roku streaming player, and reading my new books -- purchased guilt-free with a gift card! -- on my eReader, while wearing my lovely new earrings. Thank you, kiddos and TG! I love you all, and not just because of your impeccable taste in gifts.)


Now, those aren't the exact places, of course, or all the places.  Let's call them representative images. I could tell you more about each of them, but not without spoilers, so I won't.

Suffice it to say, Ciel gets around. ;)

Oh, yeah...question time. Hmm...

So, um, do you like to travel? Do you generally go exotic places of your volition, or are you kidnapped by modern-day Vikings while trying to rescue a client, and hauled halfway around the world?


How about those [insert sports team of your choice]? Aren't they [something/the bomb/craptacular]?

Friday, May 6, 2011


A short, simple thought for a busy Friday:


It's important.

If you can't manage the physical kind*, at least strive for the mental kind. It will make your life easier, not to mention a lot more pleasant for those around you.

Mental suppleness is essential in a storyteller. For the rigid, a trip down the Great What-If Path is pretty monotonous. Loosen up, and the scenery gets infinitely more fascinating.

Which is why I've adopted what DD tells me is the unofficial motto of the Navy:

Semper Gumby! 

That translates loosely as "Always Flexible!" (Because, you know, Gumby was the most flexible little dude ever.) A necessary quality when you're in the service, and can be whipped around the world at a moment's notice. But I find it also holds me in good stead whenever I sit down in front of the keyboard and try to create a story out of the chaos between my ears.

*For instance -- and I know this will be difficult for you to believe, but trust me, it's true -- that is not me in the picture above. Not that I couldn't get into that position if I wanted to. I could. But it would require a trip to the emergency room to get me back out of it.

Oops. Almost forgot the obligatory ending question that (who are we kidding?) is meant to inspire comments, so we don't feel like we're talking to an empty room:

Are you as flexible as you'd like to be? 

Or, alternately, if that question is too personal:

Did you watch Gumby as a child? (If that's too personal, I respectfully suggest you, um, Gumby up a little.) 

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"I can't believe it's not boobies!"

WARNING: The final photo in this post may not be safe for work. Though, technically, there's no reason why it shouldn't be.

The fam and I were goofing around, as is our wont whenever we happen to be in the same spot for the evening, when TG remembered a little trick he learned from a classmate in the third grade. He offered to demonstrate.

Ever on the lookout for *cough* enlightening blog fodder, I pounced.

DD played photog, and documented it. She's also responsible for the title (or should that be "tittle"?) of this post, so you can blame her for that. Though I came up with "tittle," which is probably just as bad. It's so heartwarming when you realize your children are following in your footsteps. *happy sigh*

Okay, so HERE is how we entertain ourselves at Chez Grimez on a slow evening. Allow me to apologize in advance.


Gather the Essential Supplies:

Disassemble the butter box:

"Meditate" until you are in the proper artistic frame of mind: 

With an exacto knife, make a flap where the Indian maiden is holding up her butter box:

Tape the other side of the box behind the side you just cut so that the Indian maiden's knees are centered under the flap: 

Lift the flap and see your surprise!

TG tells me he was eight years old when his pal enlightened him about the Secret of the Land O Lakes Indian Maiden. See what lengths boys were driven to before there was easy access to naughty pictures on the internet?

(On a side note, see what lengths I am driven to when I don't have an idea for a blog post?)

What's the silliest "naughty" thing you ever did as a kid? Or, heck, as an adult? Inquiring minds want to know. 

**Updated to Add** 
Just found a comment on this post in my spam filter. Anonymous said:
"Thanks for taking the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love learning extra on this topic. If doable, as you acquire expertise, would you mind updating your blog with further information? It is extremely useful for me." 
Sorry, but I had to share that. It had me laughing until I about hyperventilated. Sure am glad s/he found the info "useful"! 

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Winner! Plus a few mentions, honorable and dishonorable.

The big day is here! The winner of the Name that Blog Baby Contest has been announced over on Sierra Godfrey's blog!!

Honestly, I LOVED all of the suggesions. It was really tough to decide. But after a brief consultation with the mama (what? it's her kid and her blog -- I figured she deserved a small say in the matter), it has been decided.

Congratulations, @nwfoodie (aka Sharon Axline)! Your suggestion of "Rainbow Puppy" is the obvious choice. Because, I mean, rainbows? And puppies? PERFECT!

(I assure you all, the fact that I decorated Sierra's blog with rainbow puppies did not *cough* unduly influence my decision.)

As promised, Sharon's (goofy and basically worthless) SUR-PRIZE: a slightly used copy of Bob Marley and the Wailers LIVE! at the Rainbow DVD.

(Get it? Rainbow? Wailers, like babies are? There's a tie-in there. Work with me, people.) Also, a bar of fancy chocolate, not used at all.

Honorable Mentions:

Most Appropriate -- "Fin" (as in "finished," because Sierra assures us little Rainbow Puppy will be the last of her progeny), suggested by Roni Loren.

Most INappropriate -- "The Penis," suggested by Tawna Fenske. Is anyone surprised?

Roni and Tawna will also receive a bar of fancy, unused chocolate.

Ladies, if you will email me you addresses, I will put your prizes in the mail right,, sometime this week.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! It was fun. :)