Monday, September 21, 2020

Some recent eye-rollers

1. "My novel is well-written."

2. "I'm an amateur author"

3. A list of all the people who workshopped your novel

4. Querying in third-person

5. "I am looking for a brilliant literary agent"

6. "I am contacting you personally"

7. "Hi, my name is Felix Buttonweezer and I'm writing to query you."

None of these are deal breakers but you don't want to make a less-than-effective first impression. 

Any questions?

Sunday, September 20, 2020

Five Books That Changed History

I've been watching seminars at OneDayU recently.

With the pandemic, I've missed going to library talks, museum lectures, and author events at bookstores.


The five books that Rutgers Professor Louis Masur selected were:

1. Common Sense by Tom Paine (1776)



2. Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beacher Stowe (1852)


3. How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis (1890)



4. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (1938)



Do you want to take a guess at the fifth one?

It was published in 1963.


5. Letter From a Birmingham Jail


I think The Feminine Mystique was unrightfully overlooked of course but a list is a personal thing.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

Do I look more (or less!) enticing?

 I saw this #AskAgent question on Twitter recently. Since I don't answer questions on Twitter (no room for nuance and no way to filter out the frenzied), I'll post it here:

When querying, does it scare agents away if we mention we've worked with agents before? If we've had two agents abandon us mid-project (different projects) does that make us look more legitimate or suspicious? Asking for a friend.

The query you send me should be about the book you want me to take on.
And about you.

Your past (horrifying) experience with agents is best left till later. Much later.

The sad truth is, my first thought is: this writer is trouble.
If two agents ditched them abruptly, that's a red flag.

Don't fly your red flags if you can help it.

Put your best fin forward.

Friday, September 18, 2020

Why you have to write it before I can assess it

I'm hip deep in revisions with two of my clients.

Revising is agony, no two ways about it. And particular agony as we try to figure out what's going to work (or not!) in a chapter, and the whole book.

Frequently my author will say "how about I do this."
And sometimes I say "Hey I have this Great Idea, how about you do that."

And then we both laugh cause if there's one ironclad rule here it's this:
Assess what's on the page, not what's in your head.

I have had Great Ideas that turn out to be ... err ... not.
And no matter what we're thinking, it's what's on the page that will be in readers' hands.

Here's an illustration of Great Idea; Not So Good Execution: my new curtain ties.

I thought using three cable ties, two yellow, one red, would look really cute and innovative on my bathroom curtain. It now needs to be pulled aside because I have plants there that need the bright, indirect light.

First problem: the cable ties weren't long enough.

So, I made little loops of the red and yellow cable ties and tried that.


Now they look stupid not cute.
And NOTHING like what I'd envisioned in my mind when I thought of the idea.

But I didn't know that till I tried it.
This is why you need to have the words on the page to see if something works.

All my ideas are Great when I think of them.
I wish they all worked in real life.

Also, if you have any good ideas for clever curtain pull backs let me know.

Turns out doing fixie things around the house helps overcome cosmic anxiety. 

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Funny how bad days just sneak up on you

I really thought I'd come through the Valley of Pandemic angst a while back.
I was working, reading, even getting out more.

And then it's back.

The overwhelming sense of loss.

Not being able to visit the Met.
Not being able to browse in bookstores.
Not being able to eat breakfast in diners after a nice morning walk.

I understand these are minor inconveniences not life challenges. I'm solvent, I have a job, I have a full pantry, I'm healthy! I should only be grateful.

But I'm back under the duvet this week, hiding out.

There's only one thing to do:
Robert Redford at The Actors's Studio.

Do you sink into the blues every now and then?
What do you do to comfort yourself?


Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Contests with publication as part of the prize

A call for submissions for an award arrived in my inbox. It’s a legitimate award (PEN/Bellwether) with a cash prize as well as a publishing contract. The publishing contract would include an advance, separate from the cash prize.

I do not qualify for this award, but it made me curious about the publishing end of it. I wonder about the advantages of winning an award but losing the option of shopping the work to multiple editors. Looking at the submittable form, there does not appear to be a place to acknowledge that by submitting the work, the author is entering into a contract with the publisher, should the author’s work be chosen.

(1)I doubt you can speak to the particular award, but, does entering a contest like this mean the author must agree to the publishing terms? 
(2) How can the author do that, if they aren’t presented? 
(3) If there is no acknowledgement that the author agrees to the publisher’s terms, can a writer enter the contest, and upon winning, refuse that publisher? 
(4) Can the writer refuse that publisher without ending up on the industry’s Do Not Ever Publish list? 
(5) At what point, if at all, can the writer bring in an agent to help negotiate publishing terms? 
(6) Do awards drive sales?
(7)  Although the MS cannot be under consideration by a publisher when it is entered into the contest, nothing says the writer can't be agented. Does the agent then help negotiate the publishing deal? 
(8) Does the agent get a percentage of the award prize? 
(9)Would you advise a client to enter an award like this? 

I think this wins the prize for most questions asked in one email.
Just as a general note: one email, one question.

Rather than answer each of these, here's an overview of contests that offer publication as a prize.

1. If the terms of publication aren't specified, don't enter. There's nothing worth risking losing the rights to your work.

2. If the contest entry rules don't tell you WHO will publish the work, don't enter. Being published badly is worse than not being published.

3. The contest entry rules should specify what happens if you want to decline the prize (publication.)

There are some very legitimate, well-respected contests that offer publication as the prize. Graywolf Press has three. The PEN/Bellwether, associated with Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, is another. 

But publication by GimmeYerRights LLC isn't the same thing at all.

As with all contests, read the fine print on the entry rules.
And always check Victoria Strauss' Writer Beware site. She collects info on less-than-desirable folks who prey on unwary woodland creatures, as well as well-intentioned but clueless folks who "just want to help writers."

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

character compulsion vs choice

I read a book recently with a character who had OCD** and was thus compelled to tidy up, and tidy up, and tidy up.

I live in Brooklyn, and my apartment is more than an adequate size for one;  given NYC real estate parameters, it's not that small.

For those of you not in NYC, it's smaller than your garage.
By a long shot.

Apartments this size require CONSTANT tidying up. One sock on the floor, three unwashed plates, and laundry stacking up for more than a week, and the place looks a right mess.

So I tidy.
And tidy.

I even bought a very small dish drainer that forces me to wash every dish after I use it.
not my sink or actual dishes-but that's the drainer

And I don't hesitate to tell you that tidying up this incessantly is a real struggle.

There are minutes and hours where I have to force myself to do one small thing.

Which makes me think of characters who have compulsions (like OCD) where they have no choice but to tidy, versus people like me who have to struggle to get stuff done (sometimes, not always).

And I think it's much more interesting if a character has to struggle to do something (tidy up) or NOT do something (not tidy up), than do something because of a compulsion.

A struggle implies a choice. The character chooses to be meticulous, because that kind of attention to detail can mean the difference between life and death in his/her perilous profession (reference librarian comes to mind, also bomb squad.)


Struggle is tension.
Tension drives plot.
Compulsion is just a characteristic.

 Your thoughts on this?

**(This is not Katja's book in case any of you are wondering;
 it's an advance copy and I don't want 
to spoil any of it for long time fans of the series)

Monday, September 14, 2020

On Writing Memoir

"I've had an interesting life"

I'm glad, very glad.
But mine is interesting, too. Utterly compelling if I'm being completely honest here.

Yea right SharkForBrains

And so have all of the members of my family; every reader of this blog; even the folks who query me from jail.

Interesting, interesting, interesting.

But will someone pay $25.00 to read all about it? 

Of course they will, you think, then are heartbroken when I don't agree.


Religion, like memoir, often involves a recitation of events.
Every Good Friday, we gather to recite the events of the Crucifixion.
But it is not just the words that matter here; it's what those words mean to those of us saying them.

What illumination they bring.
What devotion they inspire.
What inspiration they provide.

A memoir is more than about what happened, a recitation of events.
A good memoir evokes feeling and provides illumination, and inspires us even if only in small ways.

And not just to people like you.
A good memoir does that for people who have nothing in common with you but their humanity.

So, yes, you've had an interesting life, but what does that mean for me?


What does that mean for those of you writing memoir?

Your query should focus less on the events of your life, and give more page time to how it will resonate with other people. You must answer the question "Why should anyone read this?" with something other than "It's interesting" or "because it's a great story."

Any questions? 

Sunday, September 13, 2020



I'm looking for a new couch.

The snot green couch has sprung one too many springs to be comfy any longer.

So, I'm looking at furniture store websites.

The fabric for couches is touted as good for "40,000 rubs" 

The question they DON'T answer is: what is a rub: one sit? What if I don't get up for like...100 hours?

Does that still count as just one?

Somehow, I've restrained myself from emailing or online chatting with customer service about this question.

Given I assume a polar bear pose on the couch most days...maybe I should just invest in the stone ledge.

How's your Sunday going?

Saturday, September 12, 2020

You're looking quite chipper!

This is Number 1. She (or he?) is the eldest in their clutch, and just graduated yesterday from aviary to house, so I can hand-raise her before she goes to a forever home. When this occurs, she'll be replaced by Number 2, Number 3, and so on. We currently have 4 budgie hens raising chicks of between 3 and 5 babies - and another budgie hen who is sitting on 9 eggs at last count. And why yes, that is indeed a lot of chirping!

The dearth of names is intentional. My daughters, 13 and 15, who assist me (when they're not doing homework or on their phones) would love to name them  and keep them all... but they don't pay for birdseed!--K.Ridwyn

Thursday, September 10, 2020

more publishing terminology

Dearest QOTKU,

I've just received Kristin Nelson's August newsletter. She mentioned a couple of terms which confused me... and seeing as you're my enlightenment for all things publishing, I thought I might brave some teeth and ask...

1. On deal-making, "one of which was a pre-empt for a debut author." What's a pre-empt? 
A pre-empt is when you have multiple editors interested in making an offer, and one of them offers enough money to seal the deal.
And you take the money and run.

This is a big deal for a debut author because you're buying something without much real time knowledge of how it will do.

2. She wrote about 'mid-list authors'. I thought authors had back-lists (and possibly mid-lists too? I don't know) but this was the first time I'd heard of an author BEING mid-list, and I'm puzzled where I'm going wrong.
Backlist and midlist refer to very different "lists".
A backlist is the work you've previously published.
For example: When Patrick Lee's book Runner was pubbed, his backlist was the Travis Chase Breach series.

When he published The Breach, it was his first novel so he didn't have a backlist.

Midlist is a reference to the pubishing hierarchy.
Best Sellers are top of the list.

Everyone else comes after.

Midlist are the authors down the ladder from that. 
Fewer sales is generally the hallmark.

But make no mistake, midlist is the backbone of publishing. Books that do well year after year after year often fund the big splashy debuts that sink without a trace.


Wednesday, September 09, 2020

to tell or not to tell: major revisions

With my first novel, I queried only a few carefully-selected agents and I finally began getting some requests. I made it as far as a Revise and Resubmit that ended up being a rejection, but I received some very thoughtful feedback from that agent. Since then, I have carefully studied that feedback, feedback from the other agents, workshopped the story with a creative writing teacher/freelance critiquer, and made time to read similar titles in my genre. Collectively, I got it. It clicked and I understood all the feedback, realized I had queried too soon, and that a major edit was in the cards. I'm talking taking it down to the studs, recognizing that I was working off the wrong inciting incident and starting the story too soon, making my hook stand out, cutting out as much as 15k words to rejuvenate the pace, and switching to a stronger title, more reflective of the high speed/low drag version I am shooting for. In the end, none of these revisions may garner any more attention for the story but it's not a total loss because I have learned a lot from the process. When I am ready to query again, I would like to try again with some of the agents who had rejected my original version. Some have said they are open to requerying with major revisions and some haven't said, but like a great shark I know always says, the worst they can say is no (again).

Now, my question: In my new query, do I fess up that they have already seen a different version of the story but that it has been heavily revised based on agent feedback/professional editing or do I just treat it as a brand new query so as to not bias them?

I realize it's delusional to assume they'd remember me or my story anyway when they receive hundreds of queries a week, but I don't want to be flagged in Query Manager as submitting before and the agent say, "OMG this jerk is trying to slide in old garbage under a new title!" and it be an automatic rejection. What is the best way for me to proceed?

Let's remember my purpose in reading queries: to find good stuff that I can sell.

Clearly you had a good start on this, but didn't make it to the final round.
Do you know how many Miss Americas try more than once?
(me neither, but it's a lot)

So, yes, query, even the ones who passed.
Say what you said here (but more concisely).

Make SURE those first pages are razor sharp.
When someone requeries me for a novel I was interested in earlier, I always read those pages to see if they hook me.  A flat start (backstory, ruminations etc) gets a quick pass.

Get me with those first pages and I usually request the full.

I can't just sit around saying "oh she queried before, pass!"

The whole thing about requerying is to do what you've done: take it down to the studs and start over.

The things that are more likely to get a quick pass:
requerying without enough time passing. Revision takes time. Not just to write, but to think.

Changing only surface things.
 "I fixed the places you pointed out" means you didn't fix the places I didn't. And no one gets a full edit on a requested full. No one.

The market or my interests have changed since you queried.
That's a hard one, I know.

Any questions?

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Hello! Welcome back!

My son sent me this to remind me that there are plenty of people dealing with stress.
I’m not alone.
Yup. That’s a grizzly. She probably figures she owns the place.--Brenda McQueen Neil

Monday, September 07, 2020

oh wait, was this Monday?

cause I've been moving furniture in my apt.
I have new plant friends who need to be in the correct spot for the amount of light they need.

I have Bright Direct for my herb seedlings

I have Bright Indirect for my philodendruns, and my palm.

And I have Recluse Dim for my ZZ plant!

It was either more plants or a puppy and I haven't taken leave (leaf!) of my senses...yet.

I'm caught up on my queries, and almost all of my requested fulls.

I'm feeling quite smug...which means the roof is going to develop a leak sometime in the middle of the night!

Have you made headway on a big project this summer?

Sunday, September 06, 2020

where in the world?

I love maps.
Maps of the world are on my office walls.

I like to look at them and think of what it would be like to live in far-off places.

The Falklands? No ATMs! 
French Guiana? Looked great until I checked the weather.
Uruguay is looking better every day.

But the French countryside really does steal my heart!
If you couldn't live here (as in the US) any more, where would you go?

Saturday, September 05, 2020

Mise en place is prep, not cooking

I've been working on queries and requested fulls these past few weeks.

One thing I've noticed is that writers frequently offer up a lot of backstory or "whys" in the first few pages. Sometimes that's a good thing.

Most often though it is not.

Readers don't need to know everything at the start.
It's better, often, if they don't.
NOT knowing creates tension. That's a GOOD thing.

Consider if your novel was a chess board.
Does the game begin when you set all the pieces in the right place?
It starts when someone MOVES.

And if you're not familiar with the rules of chess, you don't know why the knight moves in an L-pattern, or the rook stops cold when another piece is in the way.

Not knowing creates tension.

Remember your reader isn't wondering why you're doing things, they're just following the story.
It's only when they CAN'T follow the story that they start wondering what's going on.

Sometimes I hear "my beta readers said we needed to know X or Y."
That's not good advice.
You WANT your reader to wonder about things. That's called tension.

Part of your development as a writer is being able to distinguish between what information your readers need to follow the story, and what we don't need in order to build tension.

Friday, September 04, 2020

Not deal breakers but essentially toilet paper on your shoe

Not deal breakers but essentially toilet paper on your shoe in a business meeting:

1. Describing your own book as brilliant or using other laudatory language.
This is like describing yourself as good looking. It's much more effective if I see that for myself.

2. Talking about yourself in the third person.
Don't ever do that.
A memoir is queried as "I" not "your name."

3. Using a word and then telling me what it means.
Most often I already know the word.
If I don't, I have a dictionary I love to fondle.

4. "Recently completed."
That evokes an image of damp ink, which sends shivers down my spine.

I want to read something that you've finished, revised, let sit, revised, let sit, and slaved over. I don't want it to be just finished, I want it to be finally finished. And you can avoid all this just by leaving out any reference to when you typed The End and meant it.

5. Sloppy work

6. "Please disregard the typo below."
This one befuddles me.
If you've seen it, why don't you fix it?

Thursday, September 03, 2020

New ways to torment yourselves, you clever things

An author I’m in touch with got a nice reject from you that she felt good about, then someone pointed out it was likely a form letter, and the author thought that meant her query “wasn’t considered” as if she thought form letter meant an agent didn’t read it ?!? So I’m letting her know that we all get lots of form letters but it’s a time saver, not that the agent didn’t actually read the query. Poor thing! But it made me wonder if anyone else believes that.
Writers find such new and mind boggling ways to torment themselves that I should keep a list.
This would be on the list.

A form response does NOT mean the agent didn't read or consider the query.

My task is to find work I can sell.
Why would I reject something without reading it?
It literally doesn't make sense for me to do that.

Now, did I read ALL of it?
Maybe not.

Did I read enough to know it was a request or a pass?

Do I send form letters so I don't have to type the same thing over and over?

Do I send form letters because I don't want to encourage writers to respond with "but but but" if I point out something that needs work (word count is the big one here.)

Do I send form letters because I don't want to tell someone they are delusional and ask when they last stepped in a bookstore?

Do I send form letters so I avoid the vitriol I want to send when writers make assumptions about publishing, or worse, assumptions about ME?
Yes, yes indeed.

I read your queries.
All of them.
Most agents I know do too.

Most of us depend on incoming queries to keep the pipeline moving.
We're not going to be shortsighted enough to stop reading them.

Wednesday, September 02, 2020

Title change before querying

I have held off sending queries during COVID-19 lockdown, hoping that the fall might bring the industry back to a more normal flow of manuscripts and that agents might be feeling more acquisitive than they are just now. In the meantime, a book with the same title as mine has been published and is now on the bestseller list. Both works are fiction but in very different genres. My title is a term of art in a particular industry, and the best-selling title is a plain English use of the same words.

I know there is no copyright issue, but I don't want to appear ignorant of the market. Must I find another title before I query?

Titles change often 'twixt query/agent/submission/sale/publication.

I just went through this with one of my clients, and I liked the original title a lot!

But the marketing folks and the publicity folks generally know their stuff, and a savvy editor knows when to listen to them, so change we did.

And sometimes two books get published with the same title as well.

My favorite example of this is Just As I Am, which was both the memoir of Rev. Billy Graham and, a delicious steamy romantic novel by E. Lynn Harris.

Take the title off your list of things to fret over.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Nagging the lagging

An agent has had my full for almost a year now. I nudged a few months ago and she didn't reply. Should I assume it's a no? She indicated that she always responds so I'm slightly confused (although I completely understand that under the current circumstances she might not have had the time).

I've since revised the manuscript more and started querying again. I've queried three agents and all three of them have requested the full MS. Should I nudge the first agent from last year again, or wait to see if I get an offer of representation?

(I should point out that I think the first agent from last year would be a great fit)

Is it me?

It sure could have been up till July when I made a concerted effort to read and respond to all my requested fulls.

My requests lingered here for quite some time, some I'm sure closing in on a year.

The specifics of why aren't important. My why is different than other agents, but we're all dealing with the pandemic (I literally could not read a thing for three months, maybe four).

You realize that (excellent) and aren't waving your arms and shouting about lazy ass agents (very good.)

You've done exactly the right thing: move ahead.
Don't burn any bridges with ultimatum emails (which you didn't--again, good)

Query onward.
When you get an offer, let the first agent know.
(Don't consider it a pass until you've signed with someone else.)

When you get an offer, let the first (and all other agents who have requested the full) agent know. The question then is how much time do you give them to read. For years it was about five days, particularly if you had weekend days in the five.

Now though, as someone just said to me, all the days are alike, and all of them have limited reading time.  I'd suggest at least a week, and ten days if you can.

What you say to the offering agent: I have fulls out with several other agents. I'd like to give them some notice that I've gotten an offer. Will ten days be ok?

If the offering agent grumbles (and I know agents who insist on fewer than five days) drop it to a week.

Honestly right now, if someone emails with notice of an offer and has to respond in only a few days I'm more likely to pass than not.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Yea Monday, right, I forgot

what I should be doing

What I am doing

What are you doing today? What should you be doing?

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Mme Duchess et frere

The lady in the tuxedo is our Miss Duchess. She has a paw on The Troubled One, her younger brother by one litter.

Miss Duchess was the only kitty in her litter, but she, somehow, became a real sweetheart, except when she takes a spot on the bed. Then you can’t move her with a crane. When she is needful, she is really needful, enough to help us use the restroom.

The Troubled is also a sweet boy, he just likes mischeous behavior. He also snuggles like a sumo wrestler and purrs like a freight train. He also will raise up to meet your petting when he really wants it.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

I did it!

Not exactly a “pet” story, but it’s my major accomplishment while hiding out in lockdown (unfortunately, I’m a high-risk person so cowering in my house is my Lifestyle of the Poor and Unknown—hey…could make a good TV series, don’t you think?):

With no further ado,  THE ADVENTURE OF THE FEETY-THINGIES begins:


The light below my microwave (the one that shines down on my cooktop) went out a few days ago. It had intermittently been working/not working and finally gave a zap! and a blitz! and stopped working entirely.  

Being Poor and Unknown, I dug out my Advantium Oven (that’s the microwave) installation manual. Looked up the type of bulb. And just for grins looked to see if i could order it from Amazon.

Turns out…I could!

And the price was pretty good—$8 (including tax) for 3 bulbs. Way cheaper than even the minimum fee for someone to come fix it. So I ordered, and day or so later, the package showed up at my door. 

According to that oven manual, the process of changing the bulb is straightforward:  You take out one screw—no info on whether Phillips or flathead—let the door drop down on its hinge, pull out the old bulb and push in the new one, then screw the door closed again. Simple huh?

Yeah. It SOUNDS simple. In concept it IS simple.

It’s the execution that’s maybe not so simple.  

I pulled out my handy-dandy screwdriver and set to work. Unfortunately, I didn’t know, the manual didn’t say, and I  couldn’t see whether the screw was a flat head or Phillips. After dorking around a little, I figured out it was Phillips. But my handy-dandy screwdriver’s Phillips head seemed to be too big. 

Wasn’t real sure, of course, because I needed a light to see for sure why the screw wasn’t unscrewing. But…duh…the light bulb that illuminated under the oven was burned out. (Who knew?) And the under-counter lights on either side of the range didn’t give enough light for me to see.  

Then I had to find a screwdriver with a Phillips head narrow enough to fit that screw. Finally got that after a couple tries. I unscrewed that little sucker, making SURE I caught the screw in my other hand and didn’t let it drop—black screw on black stove top with lots of gas sinkholes to lose it forever…not a good plan!

Thinking all the time, that’s me, right?

Then I eyeballed the existing bulb. And pulled it straight out, being careful to maintain the same orientation when I placed it on the counter so I’d know exactly how the new bulb should go in.

I opened one of the tiny little boxes of bulbs and the picture attached shows what it looks like—it’s a puny little sucker, not more than an inch long from end to end. And it ends not with a safe, sane screw connector. That would be too easy.

Yeah. The “connector”  on this bulb is two little wire feety-thingies. They’re pretty stiff, but still…two little wires. That’s it.

Now the problem is that it was nearly impossible to see where those little wire feety-thingies plugged in. It turns out there’s a kind of gray ceramic block with two little holes in it where those little feety-thingies go. Since the feety-thingies are not as big around as a straight pin, the little holes are…well…LITTLE. As in teeny-tiny. Practically microscopic. About the size of a period on this email as best I can tell. At least they didn’t seem any bigger than that.

So I’m trying to fit the feety-thingies into those two little holes without actually being able to see what I’m doing. I wear bifocals and getting my head at exactly the right position so the right focus point on the lenses brought the bulb and the gray ceramic block and those teeny-tiny holes into focus, all while practically standing on my head to see under the oven and having my hands block the very place where those itty-bitty feety-thingies go... IMPOSSIBLE. 

I finally dragged a dining chair over to the stove so I could sit down and get my head low enough to look up. I fiddled and pushed and tweaked and dorked around and felt the little feety-thingies go in—not that I could actually see what I was doing. I gave it a little extra push to seat it properly—and the glass of the bulb crunched. 

Epic fail.

So then I had to gather up the broken bulb, pull it out—only to notice that one of the feety-thingies was still in the ceramic socket.  Another search for my needle-nose pliers and happily, the stuck feety-thingie stuck out far enough that it was easy to grab and pull.  

BUT…one bulb down. Happily, I bought three of them. Smart thinking, no?  (Actually, it was because that was the most cost-effective bundle—one bulb alone would have cost over $7.)

All right. Let’s try this sucker again. Sitting back in my chair—and being VERY careful—I squinted around my hands and the bulb trying to find those two little holes in the ceramic connector while trying to hold my head at just exactly the right distance to stay in focus. And put those stupid feety-thingies in both sides. 

Not one side only. 

Not the other side only. 

BOTH sides at the same time. 

This is harder than it sounds when you literally can’t see what you’re holding, or where you’re aiming, and those little connector holes are considerably smaller than the diameter of a straight pin. Way smaller. Practically microscopic. Nano-sized, in fact. 

Let me just insert an editorial comment here. Any IDIOT stupid enough to design a bulb that uses two skinny little wires as its feety-thingies instead of an easy screw socket deserves to be on my All Time Idiot List. Just saying…

OK. FINALLY got both feety-thingies started in the connector holes. Gave it a gentle push—and it wouldn’t go in. Went through this exercise about a half-dozen times—I’m elevating that idiot bulb designer to All Time Moron Status, by the way—and FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY got both feety-thingies in. Gave it a GENTLE push to seat it properly. And…took my hand away.

After all this, I hit the button to turn on the light—and it worked!!!!  Yes!  Full Light Worked!  Night Time Mode (about half-power) worked!! Yahoo!!!!!

That left only one issue. I had to screw the cover plate door back in place. With a black screw. On a black plate. Against a black bottom to the microwave. (Are you seeing a trend here???)  If I thought seeing the little connector holes for the feety-thingies was hard, finding the stupid place where the screw screws in was worse because again, having to practically stand on my head with hands and screwdrivers hiding what I mostly needed to see—and the hinge wasn’t solid enough to keep the door from wiggling front/back—everywhere except straight on so it lined up with the screw hole.

FINALLY got that in place. Screwed it in. 

And…I washed the cover lens for the plate (both sides, the inside before I screwed the cover plate in place). Washed the two vent filters while I was at it.  I don’t use those much for cooking because the noise of the fan drives me nuts so they don’t get very dirty. But they’re all clean and shiny now!

And I still have one bulb left from my 3-bulb package. I labeled the little box it’s in and put it in the island drawer. 

But I call this a SUCCESS!!!!!

My greatest accomplishment during lockdown!

Yesterday, I assembled a chair that came with essentially NO assembly instructions, just a picture that was singularly unhelpful.

But, I got it!

What have you done that's made you feel like celebrating a hard won victory?

Friday, August 28, 2020


I got two turkey chicks this spring and duped a chicken into raising them.

They're growing into splendid creatures, in a hideous kind of way, and are much weirder than chickens.

They also didn't come sexed, but even with my deeply questionable poultry-gendering ability I'm starting to think that Majordomo, there on the left, is a boy.

The one on the right, Her Dread Majesty Queen Faux-Megapode I of House Snood, Scourge of the Arthropods, Dread Mistress of All Behind The Domicile, may also actually be male but slower to develop. I kinda hope she turns out to be a hen though; with a name like that you can imagine how much it cost to get her stationary printed.
--Karl Henwood

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Mr. Furkles

Pictured is Mister Furkles, my nom de plummy tail

A photographer said "A wide angle lens enlarges things in front." She was so right, but after putting the camera away, Furk's tail returned to its former size. I was terribly disappointed. 

I always wondered about the name Mr. Furkles!
And now we know.

That tail looks like it could be hired out as a fan!

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Bonjour, M.Chat

These photos are from lovely little hilltown in the south of France called Mougins. I spent the better part of a year working there and in Antibes. Bliss.

Mustache Cat belonged to the man in the Viking hat. He was also the town’s mayor–– I always thought he and his cat resembled each other. Boy I wish I remembered his name.

The night of the Viking hat was my 30th birthday. They threw me a block party birthday.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Here's looking at you, Katja!

This is our dear blog friend Katja.
She does not have a pet.
But she sent this photo.

Now the question is: what is on her head?

Post your answer in the comment column below.
Have fun!

Monday, August 24, 2020


What a soul-boost getting to know everyone’s wonderful furry families! That said, there’s been a shocking lack of dragons, so in the interest of balance and appeasing everyone’s favorite sky-beasts, I thought I’d share a couple of photos myself.

First up is a beach where dragons like hanging out. You can see a couple of mischievous dragonlings trying out their wings.

Second is a fun little spot where you can sometimes spy the footprints of a dragon that's just ambled past.

Finally, for the impolitely nosy among you (and because dragons aren't always magical) is a bit of dragon flop.

love to all from flashfriday xo

Sunday, August 23, 2020


my new plants are seedlings!

 What are you doing from scratch these days?