That’s Not Quite National Novel Writing Month. It’s my own event. I have way too many responsibilities in November to commit to NaNoWriMo.

For NoQuiNaNoWriMo, there is no registration and no minimum word count. Only a desire to use a writers’ movement to inspire me to buckle down as much as possible. Most of my write-ins will take place in my home office, where I plan to be accompanied by a cat and a space heater. My goal is to write something every day.

If anyone else is interested in participating in NoQuiNaNoWriMo, I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.

My writing buddy

Overused Book Titles

In addition to writing, I work in a public library. This gives me an opportunity to notice when certain book titles have been overused. Looking for a book called The Gift, because your friend recommended it, but you can’t remember the author? Okay, well, sure. No problem. None at all. Let’s spend the next twenty minutes reading through the descriptions of the sixteen different books we have with that title in an effort to figure out which one it is. Authors and publishers, consider yourselves put on notice. I will actively discourage readers from any new book titled The Gift.

Here are more titles on my list for recommended retirement:

Twilight – Did you know about a dozen authors thought of using this before Stephenie Meyer? Time to let it fade into darkness.

On Thin Ice – Don’t go there; too many writers already have.

Redemption – This title is beyond itself

Forever – Which is how long it will take to narrow down the search to the one you’re seeking, if you don’t remember the author’s name.

The Return – It keeps coming back into the publishing world.

Reunion – Publishers keep revisiting this title, too.

The Search – Didn’t go far enough for an original name.

The Secret – It’s enigmatic why you’d want to have your book confused with so many others of the same title.

Sanctuary – It can blend in with the crowd and never be found.

The Island – Where overused book titles go for sanctuary.

In Too Deep – But if you can find your way out, maybe you can build a new title for yourself.

Bad Movies, Worse Descriptions…or An Evening of Cheap Entertainment

Looking for an evening of cheap entertainment? Visit Hulu and read their movie descriptions.

First, let me say that I love Hulu. I’m not intending this as a put-down of the site. I’ve watched every episode of the Dresden Files TV show there. While in bed with bad cold (that turned out to be pneumonia, actually) a while back I fortified my immune system with nostalgic doses of Barney Miller. They have some pretty good movies in their line-up, too. Recently they’ve featured one of my favorites of all time: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?.

But, just as with real television or movie theaters, you’ll find a lot of stinkers, too. Sometimes, I’m not sure if the movie itself would be so bad, or if it’s all in the wording of the synopsis. The other night I was browsing to see what I might watch, and ended up laughing myself silly for an hour over the titles and descriptions without ever watching anything.

A sampling:

Carnival of Souls, Horror/Thriller, 1962. Synopsis: An accident victim becomes a church organist after being drawn to a mysterious abandoned carnival. What? How are these events connected? Is this a movie plot or a Mad Lib?

And nearby alphabetically is
The Curve, Action and Adventure, 1998. Synopsis: Two roommates plan to kill a third to take advantage of college policy giving a 4.0 grade to a suicide’s roommates. Who wrote this policy? I’ll bet no other evil college student in the history of this school ever thought of gaming the system like this. If my kids apply to this college, I’m not paying dorm fees; they’ll live off-campus – alone.

Or how about
Surf Nazis Must Die, Horror/Thriller, 1987. That’s right – not comedy, not satire, not spoof.  Description:  Few action movies can compare to SURF NAZIS MUST DIE, a gnarly epic of killer stunts, monster waves, and post-apocalyptic mayhem. You can say that again. But wait, there’s more! A major earthquake has devastated the entire California coastline, but as the survivors attempt to put their lives back together, they must defend themselves against the ruthless gangs that have taken over the beaches and the gangs are ruled by Surf Nazis! No one dares to rise up against Adolf, Eva, Mengele, and Hook until the wretched Reich brutally murder Eleanor “Mama” Washington’s son, and now she’s out for vengeance. Ooookaaaay then. Yo, Surf Nazis! Don’t mess with Mama Washington!

Then there’s
Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead. Know what? I’m not even reading the description. The title is enough.
film reels

April Fool’s Resolutions

The dead of winter doesn’t really seem like a great time for making a fresh start. I think spring, about two weeks in, is more appropriate. So in that spirit, I’ve written a poem containing my April Fool’s resolutions.

April Fool’s Resolutions

Starting today

I resolve to play more tricks
on my family and my friends,
to begin each day practicing
a silly walk,
to lose the weight of serious

I will quit all smoking that does
not involve smoke bombs and all drinking
that does not involve a dribble glass.
I will save money
by crafting my own pranks at home;
Handmade is best.

I’ll study hard to learn new jokes.
Reorganize things, though I won’t say
whose.  I’ll seize each opportunity
to get a laugh
But most important of all, I resolve
to watch my back.

Another Snake

Shortly after I posted the poem about accidentally mowing a snake into pieces (the headless fellow in the grass), I was given a chance to make some amends to the world of snakes.  My cat, of whom I never would have expected this, caught a snake and brought it to me.

The reason I wouldn’t have expected it is because this particular cat has a deep and abiding love for the indoors. About once a day, she stands at the door mewing desperately to be let out. Once the door is open, she ventures as far as the edge of the porch and has been known to remain there for as long as 90 seconds before spiraling into regret over the terrible mistake she’s made. Then she mews desperately at the other side of the door until someone lets her back in. Nobody would peg her as a snake catcher.

I didn’t count on her finding a snake in our basement. But the other day as I sat in the living room, typing away on my laptop, she came trotting up from the basement with something long and skinny dangling from her mouth. When she dropped it in front of me, it slithered. It slithered with amazing speed. She pounced, it struck at her, she picked it up again, it writhed away again, she batted at it and I realized intervention was needed.

After an untaped, never to be seen episode of Funniest Home Videos, involving me, the cat, the snake, lots of yelling, hissing, slithering, stalking, running, tripping over chairs, and ultimately, the use of a Rubbermaid container, I managed to set the snake free outside. Through great personal effort, I had saved it from my cat. And thus balance was restored to the universe.

The Meaning of Life – Updated

Update:  Tracfone has responded to my e-mail, and I have to give them credit for quick answering. The issue, as they explain it, is two different double minutes plans, one for life and one for one year.  They believe I purchased the one year double minutes plan and I was sure I purchased double minutes for life (since I didn’t even know the other was an option.) Unfortunately I can’t find any documentation from when I bought it.  I’m pretty sure it was in an e-mail, which I lost a lot of upon switching computers. I do remember my husband and I both purchased double minutes at the same time and having much discussion beforehand about whether to spend the money, and clearly remember we believed we were purchasing double minutes for life.  It’s completely out of character for me to have spent so much money only for one year. I also remember my husband dropping his phone in a lake and then being informed his double minutes were only for the life of the original phone (my understanding) and not the life of him having *a* phone from them. Of course, me saying “I seem to remember…” is a far cry from having saved the receipt.  So if there’s a lesson in this, it’s the importance of saving receipts. 

Having looked at other cell phone plans, Tracfone is still the best option for me. I don’t use my phone that often.  I have it in case the school needs to reach me if one of my children is ill, or if my car breaks down.  Being able to purchase the minutes in advance and not worry about a monthly bill works for me.  I think I’ll pass on the double minutes card for now, though. Apparently, one of us – it could be either – has a history of doing that part wrong.



I discovered the meaning of life today.  It is one year.  Tracfone (you know, the cell phone company) explained it to me via e-mail.  When I bought double minutes for life, that was good for one year. If I want double minutes again this year I’m supposed to buy a second double minutes airtime card, for my second life presumedly. I don’t know if I’m required to create an avatar to use it.

I’m a bit stubborn about holding onto my first life, however, so I haven’t let the matter drop.  Here is the text of my response to their response:

Thank you for your prompt reply.

I thought that double minutes for life would mean the life of the phone, at least. If I had realized “life” was so fleeting, I would have adopted a Carpe Diem attitude and spent the money elsewhere. Please advise me where life is defined as one year in your fine print. 

I look forward to hearing back from you about a resolution of this issue within this lifetime.  In this case, lifetime means the next week.




Book List: Funny Money

I’m tired of reading about the economy. How about you? Yet I can’t seem to get my mind off of money. How about you? Can’t stop thinking about money, but need some cheering up? Try a selection from the following Funny Money Book List. All of the books have to do with money, and they’re all supposed to have some humor. I haven’t read most of the books, only the synopses, so I make no guarantees. 

Funny Money Book List


Bermuda Schwartz  by Bob Morris – Mystery
Das Kapital: a Novel of Love and Money Markets by Viken Berberian
Ladies with Options  by Cynthia Hartwick
Ladies with Prospects  by Cynthia Hartwick
Making Money: a Novel of Discworld  by Terry Pratchett – Science Fiction
Old Money  by Elizabeth Palmer
Plum Lucky  by Janet Evanovich – Mystery
Prizzi’s Money  by Richard Condon
A Royal Pain  by Rhys Bowen – Mystery
Walking Money  by James Born


Dave Barry’s Money Secrets: Like, Why is There a Giant Eyeball on the Dollar?  by Dave Barry
Eat the Rich  by  P.J. O’Rourke
How to Profit from the Coming Rapture: Getting Ahead When You’re Left Behind  by Ellis Weiner
The New Yorker Book of Money Cartoons  by the New Yorker Magazine
The Official Filthy Rich Handbook  by Christopher Tennant
The Serfitt & Cloye Gift Catalog: Just Enough of Too Much  by Bob Woodiwiss with illustrations by Andrea Jensen
The Sweet Potato Queens’ Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit  by Jill Connor Browne

And one bonus kids’ book because I enjoyed it so much:

Lunch Money  by Andrew Clements


When not swimming comes in handy

The lovely part of being the sole non-swimmer in a family of swimmers comes when we go on vacation and stay at a hotel with an indoor pool. Everyone else heads for the water, leaving me alone to commune with my laptop.

I finished a chapter of my novel this past week while we were in Oklahoma visiting family. I’ve been saying this for two months, but I can see the finish line. The first draft is almost done. I have 17 complete chapters, and I’m pretty sure I have three left to go.