Wednesday, February 27, 2013

SNEAK PEEK AT NEW COVER

                             



     I couldn't resist giving you a peek at the front cover of the next Jaswinder Mystery, soon to be released.                                

Saturday, February 23, 2013

You Knew Better!


                                                               

Another offering from my Writers' Group Prompt:



We were almost home.  I'd been feeling increasingly uneasy as my husband threaded his way down the rain slicked streets.  Our evening had been spent at a small dinner party hosted by a colleague of Fred's.  The food had been good, if spicy.  Maybe that was what was making my stomach clench and unclench.

Halfway through the dessert and coffee someone had admired the hostess' Halloween decorations.  It was almost too much the way some people covered their front porch with white cotton batting stretched to look like spider webs and then, of course, with the requisite plastic spiders lurking in the corners.  And the McMurray's didn't even have children.

Fred and I had been content with a single carved pumpkin in the window which we lit each evening.  The candle was secure in a holder with a heavy base.   But what had crept into a corner of my brain and then commenced to enlarge alarmingly, was the growing suspicion that I had forgotten to shut the door to the basement that kept our adored, but notoriously curious, Boston Terrier, Bud, secure when we were out.

I began to see visions of Bud, first barking at the jack-o-lantern's mildly frightening face and then going over to sniff at it.  Failing a response would he then proceed to stick out a paw or his muzzle into one of the cut-out eyes or the gaping, almost toothless, mouth?

I recalled newspaper story from years ago where a pet--had it been a dog?--had knocked over a lighted pumpkin which had then led to the nearby drapes catching fire and soon the entire house, with the dog in it, had burned to the ground.  But that kind of thing happened to other, careless people, didn't it?

"You're pretty quiet tonight."

I realized I hadn't spoken on the way home.  As we rounded the corner to our street I held my breath.  We pulled up in front of our house, the garish pumpkin grinning at me from our front window.  

Wherever that dog is, he's getting an extra treat tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Joys of Air Travel

My third offering of a 15 minutes impromptu write from my Writers' Group:


                                                                     

                                                             


Airports used to be fun places.   You were going someplace exciting, somewhere special.  Your family was there to see you off, even the aunts and uncles, as you flew off to France to spend a semester improving your language skills.   At least,  that had been what sold your parents on the adventure.   Mom tucked a twenty dollar bill into your purse while Grandma gave you a box of chocolates, 'to keep up your strength on the flight, dear.'  You wore your best outfit and your new shoes pinched your feet.  Check-in was quick and with a last hug and kiss to everyone you were off!   Security was non-existent and what would have been the reason for it?   

The meals were terrific and they came every three hours:    freshwater shrimp salad for lunch, filet mignon for dinner a few hours later and then a cute little omelet just before you landed, because, after all, this was morning in Paris.    Why did they call it economy class?


Half the fun was getting there.   Not any more!


Friday, February 15, 2013

LOST IN PARIS





123RF Stock Photo
                                                               
Another small story form my Writers' Group ramblings:


Fred was waiting, with growing impatience, at the Reception desk of  a modest Parisian hotel.  His wife, Dot, was upstairs in their small room trying to find something  suitable to wear.   This meant something that made her look slimmer.  That had been the main topic last evening as they ate dinner at the little French cafe down the street from their hotel.   They hadn't wanted to venture too far away, afraid of getting lost.   But, once there, they had both  had managed to eat a substantial dinner there at a considerable price.   But Fred hadn't complained;  this was a once in a lifetime trip they had been planning for the past year. 

Dot had talked a lot about how stylish French women were, how thin, how they wore high heels and tight skirts and clicked along the cobblestone streets at such  a quick pace.   Then there was more about how slim their legs were . . . Fred had stopped paying attention at that point.


Over dessert of Peaches Melba--it had been the only thing they had recognized on the dessert menu--Fred had ventured an opinion that the French women's growth had probably been stunted in the last War, rendering them permanently underweight.   Hadn't they been forced to resort to tulip bulbs?  Or was that the Dutch?  Fred meant to be consoling and supportive.   That was the word--supportive--that Dot used in their occasional disagreements when complaining about some trivial action or lack of action on his part.  Face it, Fred had told her, we just don't fit in here and it isn't just our white runners and fanny packs.   


But Dot refused to be consoled.   It hadn't helped when she had ventured into a high fashion boutiques down the street from their three star hotel.  The eel-thin sales clerk had pretended not to know what plus-size meant.    Although, as Fred looked down the street from his seat at a little table at the front of the hotel that he had retreated to after ten minutes in the shop, it didn't appear there was much demand.  Reflecting back on last night's lavish feast, complete with cognac, Fred had to conclude that some things were impossible to fathom.   But
 he was on vacation and heavy thinking was definitely not on the menu.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

IN OLD SEVILLE

The first of five offerings from my efforts at the Writers' Club where we write to prompts ( phrase, a picture, an object)  In honour of Valentines Day:


             

                                                   IN OLD SEVILLE 


                                    In old Seville they dance flamenco still,
                                    For tourists now, but the music thrills,
                                    Swirling skirts and stamping feet;
                                    A paisano claps his hands to the beat.

                                    The night is sultry; swarms of bats fly,
                                    Around the cathedral spires they glide
                                    They add their call to the sounds in the air,
                                    The clinking dishes, the pulled back chairs.

                                     Old stones have seen a thousand dance,
                                     Now they stand mute and guard romance,
                                     The music stirs the blood of all,
                                     The dancer waits for the man who doesn't call.            

Saturday, February 9, 2013

CONTINUITY


                                                       










Continuity is film industry jargon and also important in novels.   I'll defer to Wikipedia's definition:


In fiction . . .  consistency of the characteristics of persons, plot, objects, and places seen by the reader or viewer over some period of time. It is of relevance to several media.
Continuity is particularly a concern in the production of film and television due to the difficulty of rectifying an error in continuity after shooting has wrapped up ...
All of this is done so that ideally all related shots can match, despite perhaps parts being shot thousands of miles and several months apart. It is a less conspicuous job, though, because if done perfectly, no one will ever notice.

At one point in my varied career life I was interested in costuming in the film industry and took some courses in this regard.   I think it was after I had watched the A & E version of Pride and Prejudice (the one with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth) and became enamoured with the the Regency costumes.  That was before I realized that filming is glamourous only in the eyes of those outside the industry. The reality--except for the big stars--involves long, sometimes very long days and nights, shooting and re-shooting.   But I digress.

Because filming is non-linear--that is, not shot in sequence like a play--actors take their outfits off and on.   Continuity requires that the outfit look identical each time.  Or if the actor takes part of the costume off or gets a stain on it, that feature must continue in the next scene.  To this end photographs are taken after each scene.   Now multiply that by twenty actors in a Regency costume drama and you will feel the glamour oozing away.  Costume 'bibles' are developed with photographs and descriptions for every small scene.

Many of us have laughed or smirked at bloopers showing an error on the part of the costume department.  I seem to recall much was made of a scene from one of the Lord of the Rings movies wherein Sam was wearing a vest in one scene and not in the next scene, even though the sequence was continuing.   I believe the director had them reshoot three days worth of film to correct the error, but that was Peter Jackson with an unlimited budget.   I don't know if that would always be done.

I'm now working on continuity on my latest novel so this was what twigged the memory.  No photographs are involved for me though, just careful re-reading and written notes to hopefully keep the book error-free.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

SAY WHAT YOU MEAN!




                                                           




I turned on the car radio as I headed off to the dog park and came into the middle of the introduction of the next segment of the talk radio program.   It went something like this:   " . . .the President is introducing his plan for the next four years on climate change or global warming or some such thing . . ."

I knew without a doubt, without hearing another word, what the host's opinion was on the topic.   Partly, a small part, because of the tone of his voice but mostly because of the tag at the end:   . . . some such thing."  Those three words impart a certain scorn, a definite negativity to whatever the topic at hand is.   I suppose it is the purview of a talk show host to be controversial and have strong opinions.   I prefer the programs where the host is more objective and  invites guests of differing points of view to expound as to the reason for their position.

But, back to the title of this post.   I once taught a high school English class on the difference between denotation (the literal meaning of a word) and  connotation (the emotional association with the word evokes).   Think of a person described as a vagrant as opposed to homeless.    One is a nuisance, the other deserving of sympathy.   And I'm sure you know which is which.  What about slim versus scrawny?   Cheap versus good value?  Cabin versus hut.


Writers are aware of these differences and in the confines of a work of fiction their attempts to influence the readers' subconscious must be considered acceptable but once you are aware of this concept you will see it widespread in society in advertising and in political debate.  How does it make you feel?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

BLOG READERS


                                                                     



I'm pleased to be able to see where the readers of my blog reside and I thought I would share the locations with you.   The majority reside in the United States or Canada but the following countries are also represented:


                           Russia
                     France
                     Germany
                     Guatemala   
                     United Kingdom
                     South Korea
                  Netherlands
                  Poland
                  Germany
                  Denmark                  
                  Ukraine
                  South Korea
                  Malaysia
                  Lithuania
                  Brazil  



I'm happy you dropped in!