Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Twin Stories by Bonnie Le Hamilton

The other day I saw, and shared, a post on Facebook 13 Insane Identical Twin Stories That Are Almost Too Funny To Believe The only thing is, I didn’t find them funny or unbelievable.

In all but three instances in the whole article, similar things have happened to Konnie and me. The only exceptions were waving hi to our reflection (at least I’ve never done that, and Konnie’s never mentioned doing it either, so I’m assuming she hasn’t either), the intentionally switching to cheat stories (We never did that! Ever, would never have considered it.), and the boyfriend kissing the wrong twin one. (It’s a good thing too, since the first time I ever saw my brother-in-law, due to my husband being stationed clear across the country, they were already parents.)

Thankfully, the only time either Tom, or Jerry, have mixed us up was on the phone, and each time we can forgive them because in both those instances they were expecting the other twin to answer. Yeah, they got it wrong, but it was understandable.

And the closest we’ve come to a teacher mixing us up was that one April Fool’s Day when the teacher kept thinking we’d switched places but what really happened was just days before she’d changed the seating putting me near Konnie’s old seat and Konnie in my old seat. Or that time when I signed up for a class taught by a guy Konnie knew, who had asked her to take the class, but she couldn’t because of her work schedule.

When I walked in the class, he thought Konnie had made it after all and said so, calling me Konnie, and I told him, “Actually, I’m Bonnie.”

At which point he thought he’d been calling Konnie by the wrong name all along and sincerely apologized. Konnie’s roommate, who was with me, stepped in to inform him that he hadn’t until that minute met me and Konnie was indeed at work.

 And as for the intentionally switching to cheat scenario, we never did that, We did get accused of cheating once, but that wasn't a “switching places” tale, that was a “we’re twins, and we communicate with just a glance” tale. I looked at her and got the answer, and everybody who witnessed it knows I got the answer from just glance at Konnie. It happened. But I’d hardly call that cheating, since it was clearly accidental.

And I’m certain I’ve related that story before too. If I haven’t, just let me know.
Anyway, on a whole every story in the article is believable, since for the most part, similar things have happened to Konnie and me.

In fact, I’d say all those stories are common. Frankly, I would think stories of Twin ESP, which is a real thing, since that is how we got accused of cheating, would be more unbelievable than any of the common occurrences in the article, though all of them would make good fodder for any story involving identical twins.

Happy writing everyone. 

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Research by Carol Baldridge

Thank you, Bonnie Le and Konnie, for inviting me to be your first guest blogger. We three are readers and writers who use libraries, and I was a librarian for over 25 years, so I’d like to share some library lore with your readers.

No matter what kind of writing you do – fiction, non-fiction, essays, or even poetry -- somewhere along the line you will need to do some fact-finding and fact-checking. 

Fact-finding and fact-checking are better known as research. Research, ugh! That’s too often a dirty word that many writers don’t like to think about. But writing what you know goes only so far. Where does a writer begin to do research? Why, at the local public library, of course!

Here are some basic but very important things to know about your public library:

1. Your card -- Get acquainted with your local library and its librarians, Apply for a library card and keep it in good standing. Promptly pay any fines that accrue and pay for any lost library material. Renew your card when the time comes.

2. The reference desk -- Libraries have a reference desk where masters-degreed and specially-trained librarians will research questions for you and help you find what you need for your writing life. They will teach you how to search databases and how to use electronic and paper catalogues. Also, reference librarians all over the world are good sources for the names of and contact information for local experts and historians.

3. Reciprocal borrowing -- This means the patron travels to the book (or library materials). Visit and use the libraries all around you -- area public libraries, college/university libraries, museum libraries, corporate libraries, special libraries. Many will accept your library card as your admission ticket, or you might need a special permission slip from your home library.
Learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to identify and locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries or letters from the time period you’re researching). Be sure to take note of (photocopy!) the title and verso (backside of the title page) pages plus the primary sources listed in bibliographies, resource lists, and notes in secondary sources.

4. Interlibrary loan (ILL) – This means the book (or other library material) travels to the requesting patron. As mentioned in #3 above, learn how to use WorldCat and other library databases to locate helpful books, journal articles, DVDs, CDs, primary sources (e.g., diaries or letters from the time period you’re researching) at other libraries. A reference librarian will ILL them for you, so you can pick them up at your home library. If the item(s) are out of state, there will be a charge for mailing.

Remember -- DON’T SKIP THE LIBRARY RESEARCH! Many stories have been ruined when the writer didn’t do the needed research.

Happy writing – and researching!

Carol Baldridge

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Descriptions by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Not too long ago I saw a post on Facebook asking how to describe a character without a “standing in the front of the mirror” type scene, which any decent writer knows is a big time no-no. But it isn’t always all that easy, especially if you have only one POV. How would the POV character describe himself to the reader without standing in front of a mirror to do an assessment?

That isn’t easy to even to answer.

I have one story I’ve written were the reader learns the hero has red hair because he complains about how his whole family (whole community actually) has red hair and how boring it is. In the same story, the reader learns about the main character’s size because some other characters point out the size difference between him and another fellow his age, and he reflects on why he is understandably larger. The only other description given of him is the way he dresses, and that was in form of describing the dress code of his people to an outsider. (They’re aliens.)

At no point do I have this character standing in front of a mirror.

In another story of mine (an unfinished one), I show the reader the POV character’s appearance by having other characters react to it. Of course, the whole thing is in his POV, so he does inwardly react to their reaction, thereby the reader learns why people do have such a reaction, but my main character isn’t standing in front of a mirror describing himself either.

Generally, I find it easier to have at least two POV characters, so each of them can “assess” the other in their eyes when they first meet. Simple and easy, but then sometimes you need more, because there are always things a character isn’t going to take note of. Or maybe doesn’t need to.

I have a scene in yet another story of mine where the hero describes what he assesses to be a young boy climbing out of the passenger seat of his tow truck, which his employee had just returned to his garage. In that short paragraph, the reader learns about the description of this new character in the hero’s life, including said characters size, though not her gender.

Which brings me to another post I read this week about pronouns (and frankly I find this incomprehensible) but apparently it is now politically correct to use the plural pronoun “they” to describe an individual who prefers to remain androgynous. I even noticed an author using this incongruous pronoun to keep the sex of a character unknown to the reader.

And it makes me wonder if schools are even teaching grammar anymore at all. He, She, and It are all singular, They is plural. Personally, I would never want to be referred to as in it, but “they”?

And instead of keeping the reader in dark about a character’s gender don’t refer to that person as “they”! Keep the POV character in the dark too, or at least confused as to gender, which I’ve said I’ve done, but frankly, if I ever read something where an individual is referred by the pronoun “they” I’d probably stop reading the book. I might even consider it a wall banger. Such writing would certainly draw me out of the story, which we all know is a bed thing.

Yeah, I know I’m old fashioned, but I can’t be alone in this. Can I?

Happy writing everyone. J

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Busy is Relative by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Yesterday it took me most of the day to do a load of dishes then sweep and mop my kitchen, hall, and bathroom. Not that either is a big job. Of course, they aren’t. This isn’t a big apartment, and I do live alone. It’s just that I had to keep stopping to catch my breath and rest a minute or two. And even with all that resting, by the time I completed those tasks, I was a bit stressed; I didn’t finish my “to do” list.

Konnie didn’t finish hers either, but well, she rarely does. And she rarely does because none of her immediate family members recognize that she has more to do in her day then run people around to all their various appointments and activities. Let alone that she isn’t goofing off when she’s sitting at her computer. And I’m not even talking writing.

Konnie spends time doing online surveys, which nets her a little extra money every year, and she uses quicken to do the family finances, and all their various bank accounts are online too.

For me, I consider I have a busy day if my “to do” list has more than four items on it; Konnie would consider that a vacation. I seriously doubt her “to do” list ever has less than ten items on it. If mine had ten items on it, I’d included my shopping list. Even when I had a car, and was driving my sister-in-law around to all her appointments, my “to do” never had more than five things on it, and I considered it a hectic day if my sister-in-law had more than one appointment. (She only rarely had two appointments in a single day.)

Konnie would consider that a lazy day.

Busy is relative. What one person considers busy, another would consider lazy. Viewpoint and perspective change by who is seeing, or doing, what is going on. This is especially true in our stories.
Have you ever tried writing a scene from the POV of another character? It becomes a completely different story because that character will “view” the events in a way the original character didn’t. I actually have one scene I’ve written in two different POV’s but that’s because the main character didn’t notice some things his buddy did.

Viewpoint, and frankly attitude, changes the story. Has anyone else tried this? Written one scene from two POV’s? Do you see what I mean?

Happy writing everyone. J  

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Twin Musings by Bonnie Le Hamilton

As the title of this blog states, Konnie and I are mirror twins. And as we’ve already mentioned in our posts, mirror twins are mirror opposites.

The foremost sign of mirror twins is one is a lefty and the other a righty. Well, I’m the righty. And a while back, Konnie and I got on the subject of can openers.

She doesn’t have a ton of counter space, and I thought it weird that she had an electric one (and to be honest, I don’t have an electric one because my husband never liked the possibility of not being able to open a can in a power outage). She insisted that it’s hard to open a can using a can opener designed for the predominately right-handed world.

At the time of the conversation, I had to take her word for it, but well, the last couple of weeks, I’m beginning to see her point. You see my right thumb has developed arthritis and it’s been bugging me, a lot. And she was not kidding when she said its dang near impossible for a lefty to work a can opener build for a righty.

 I’m seriously considering one of those newfangled battery powered can openers, which won’t take up my limited counter space.

I’m also thinking about how I might write a story where a character has to, at least temporarily, use the hand he isn’t used to using, for whatever reason, though I still don’t have a reason, or a character for that matter.

And as I’m writing this, I recall a scene from MASH, which Alan Alda did with his father. They were both playing doctors, and their bickering, a lot, they don’t like each other at all, then both of them are injured (one his left arm and other his right arm), and well they need to operate on an injured soldier to save his life, even though they are hurt. They end up having to do the surgery together because neither of them had the use of both hands.

That was quite a scene for me to remember it decades later.

Have any of you ever written in scene or story plot where a character has to deal with not being able to use a limb or maybe even one of their senses, at least temporarily?

Personally, I can think of a character I have with a broken leg, but that’s about the worst I’ve done. I really should try this idea. Anyone with me?

Happy writing everyone! J

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The New Racism by Konnie Enos

I recently came across an article online by Michael Cantrell about liberals and their desire to create a new tax (
After reading what he had to say I found myself wondering at the audacity of liberals to think that such an idea could possibly help race relations.
How is signaling one group of people out based on something that is genetic and taxing them for it going to IMPROVE race relations?
Think about that for a moment.
IF your government decided your skin color meant you could afford to pay more in taxes, how are you going to feel about it? What is it going to do to these people who are living on welfare? In section 8 housing? Subsisting on WIC and SNAP benefits and just barely getting by?
Don’t tell me people fair skinned people aren’t poor. I’ve spent most of my life on welfare and living in subsidized housing. The home I live in now I got through Habitat for Humanity and is in a neighborhood that was historically a restricted poor black neighborhood.
Our finances might be better now but we still have months were the month last longer than our money does.
A tax like this is going to hurt my pocketbook.
And it’s not going to help the people with more pigmentation either.
I sincerely doubt the government would actually put this tax money to use in helping underprivileged people (clearly not since so many of them lack pigmentation).  
The goal of the liberals is to erase racism, but you can't do that by being a  racist.
Taxing people based on the amount of pigmentation they have is as bad as selling them as slaves based on the same criteria.
Just STOP judging people based on their genetics at all.
I think Michael Cantrell said it very well. I quote from his previously mentioned article:
“It’s time we acknowledge that yes, racism does exist, and yes, it’s a real problem, for EVERYONE. We should be committed to overcoming this obstacle to our unity. Doing so requires all people to begin focusing on the content of a person’s character rather than their outward appearance.
Punishing someone for their skin color is a step back, not a step forward, something that should be clear to anyone who uses the word “progress” to sum up their political philosophy.”
I’ve already posted a few times about racism and how we need to be a united country, not a divided one (my posts dated 5-20-15, 7-29-15, and 6-29-16). It’s time we as a nation started to work together and stop judging people by the amount of pigmentation they happen to have.
I’m going to end with my normal close because I hope it will help to make a better world.

Smile. Make the day a brighter day.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Decluttering by Bonnie Le Hamilton

Decluttering is something all of us do in our lives at some point or another. Every so often, it’s necessary, not just around our homes, but also in our writing, and I know how hard that is.

The first step of downsizing is decluttering. Clutter is an enormous issue if you ask me because clutter is often the main reason we need to downsize. In my experience, clutter is why we don’t have room for everything in our homes, and clutter is the reason our manuscripts are so long.

For me, I once wrote a manuscript that was over one and thirty thousand words, which, for a romance is way over the top. And trimming the fat wasn’t easy. I had a hard time deciding what wasn’t important, and what was. It took more time to cut that thing down to acceptable size than it did to write it, which should tell you how hard of a job it was.

Though I did learn a lot from that experience and I thought I’d share some of that with you.
The first thing I learned about was not telling my readers things I’ve already shown or are about to show. Seems like a no-brainer since we’re told all the time to show not tell, but well I found that I tended to paraphrase things that I then showed. Most often when I was trying to avoid using a tag, but I now know this isn’t just telling, it’s redundant and condescending, and, when I’m on the receiving end of that kind of writing — extremely irritating.

In other terms, stating the obvious is something we should never do. So we should never say someone interrupted or was the first to mention something when we’ve already shown these things with the dialogue. Yeah, that isn’t easy to remember when we’re writing the piece in the first place since we’re not thinking about style as much was we’re thinking about content. But we have to cut this drivel out of our manuscripts as soon we start editing because it just excess padding.

I can also see, when the piece is long enough, where a writer might think it is necessary to reiterate or paraphrase things that took place earlier in the story, possibly thinking the reader either forgot or didn’t catch the significance of what happened. The problem with this tactic is that it is condescending, as Browne and King say in chapter nine of their book Self-Editing For Fiction Writers titled Once is Usually Enough.

And yeah, they’re right; it’s really off putting when a writer does this to a reader.

Happy writing everyone. J