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Other’s Written Words

Every writer reads other writer’s words.  Sometimes those words are in books or magazines, sometimes in plays or in movies and sometimes they are in newspapers or billboards.  Those words inspire me or just make me think.  They leave a lasting impression.  These are words that have affected me.

See below for my most recent ones or click on the link above.

Character/Scene Ideas

Writers need characters for their stories, locations to put them in and actions for those characters to participate in.  Where do they come from?  How do you flesh them out?  For me, they all begin with some observation, whether that is walking in the park, driving around town, shopping in the mall or simply musing while sitting in my chair.  These are examples of those characters I have seen or imagined as well as locations I have visited or wanted to visit.  I also include ideas and/or questions that will help me, later, flesh them out.

See below for my most recent ones or click above.

Ask This Author

Every journey is best done with a companion, in this case, you.  And, companions have conversations with their fellow travelers.  This is your opportunity to begin that conversation with me.  Ask me questions on how I do my writing; do I write every day, in my pajamas or with a quill pen?  Or ask me why I write: become famous, rich or just to pass the time?  How about where I get my ideas from; sitting in the library, watching a movie or walking down the street?  I’ll answer your questions and our journey together will begin.

See below for my most recent ones or click above.

Writing Group Prompts

Growing out of the 2009 NaNoWriMo group, the Triple Cities Writing Group was formed and has met consistently every Saturday at the George F. Johnson Library in Endicott, New York.  Each member creates a series of prompts for the others to respond to and the following are examples of those prompts.

Our guidelines for the prompts have always been, always have pen on paper, never stop writing, get the thoughts down and edit LATER.  So, these are very rough drafts with ideas that need to be fleshed out.  They are the barest of the kernels of scenes or individuals.  They need to be worked on.

Enjoy my first explorations of ideas.

See below for my most recent ones or click above.

Recent Articles


The Name is Bond, Jane Bond

Spectre, the latest James Bond, 007, movie opens in just a few weeks. Daniel Craig, the current re-incarnation of Bond has clearly stated he’s done with the character. There’s been speculation for some time regarding a replacement, the most famous name being tossed around is Idris Elba. I’d suggest Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson truly leave their comfort zone and cast a woman in the role of the most famous and long lasting spy in movie history.

There are several criteria for choosing the next Bond. The actress must be British. George Lazenby, born in Australia, was the only Bond born outside the British Isles. Roger Moore and Daniel Craig are English, Pierce Brosnan is Irish, and Timothy Dalton is Welsh. We’ve many fine actresses to choose from who fit this category.

Next, they must be under 40. Roger Moore starred in his first Bond movie, Live and Let Die, when he was 46. Pierce Brosnan was 42 when he did Goldeneye and Timothy Dalton was 41 when he played Bond in The Living Daylights. The others were under 40 with George Lazenby a tender 30 years old when he starred in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Finally, they must be credible in an action movie. James Bond is a man of action and Jane must be no different. While Sean Connery’s most famous film prior to Dr. No was Walt Disney’s Darby O’Gill and the Little People, he convinced someone he’d make a great agent with a ‘license to kill.’ And George Lazenby had only acted in a television series before being cast. (By the way, Lazenby got a raw deal with the critics. He wasn’t Connery, but he was a very credible Bond. In many ways, his film parallels the end of Craig’s Casino Royale and the issues raised in the sequel, Quantum of Solace.) So, prior experience is not required.

The following five women can pull it off. Remember, Jane Bond is not only an action hero, she’s also someone who conquers men in bed and other places. She doesn’t drink beer, only martinis, ‘shaken, not stirred’ and she can be ruthless, tossing the opposition off a cliff when necessary or dropping them into a huge vat of mud. Jane will look as good in her evening gown (remember she’s a woman, not a woman dressing up like a man in a tux) as she does in a wetsuit or a uniform.

Before beginning the countdown, there are several British actresses who might pull it off and deserve an honorable mention. They include, in alphabetical order: Gemma Arterton (‘Bond Girl’ Strawberry Fields in Quantum of Solace), Naomie Harris (‘Bond Girl’ Eve Moneypenny in both Skyfall and Spectre), Keira Knightley, and Carey Mulligan.

Sophie Cookson#5 – Sophie Cookson, Roxy/Lancelot in Kingsmen: The Secret Service, is the youngest of the possible Janes. Although she has the fewest acting credits, she’s listed as the lead actress in the upcoming Emperor


Rosamund Pike#4 – Rosamund Pike, ‘Bond Girl’ Miranda Frost in Die Another Day, has progressed tremendously since that role when she was 23. In addition she’s voiced Pussy Galore on BBC Radio and narrated The Spy Who Loved Me as an audiobook. She’s also played Queen Andromeda in Wrath of the Titans and starred in Gone Girl.

Natalie Dormer#3 – Natalie Dormer, Cressida in the wildly popular Mockingjay films and Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones, has all the action credits to be Jane. Give her a Walther and the keys to an Aston Martin and she’ll do as M wants her to every time.


Gugu Mbatha-Raw#2 – Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Dido Belle in Belle and starring in episode VIII of Star Wars, can pull it off. She’ll shake your martini or maybe create a new one as she plays baccarat at the club waiting for the call from M. She’ll also cleverly banter with Q when he provides the latest gadget for use in the field.

Emily Blunt#1 – Emily Blunt has it all. She played Boudica in the BBC TV production of the same name. In that drama, she fought the Romans. She also fought aliens in Edge of Tomorrow and protected her son in Looper. Most recently, she sang in Into the Woods and played FBI agent, Kate Macer, in Sicario. While I didn’t particularly like this last film, she was wonderful as a conflicted SWAT team leader who must confront right and wrong and decide which she’ll embrace. Her Walther will rest easily under her arm as she banters with the henchmen attempting to kill her. This Jane will seduce every ‘Bond Boy’ within sight, leaving them wanting more as she uses them to capture the villain. And, most importantly, she’ll kick ass when the need arises and then sip that martini afterwards.

I must confess though, that, while Emily Blunt has it all, there is another British actress who would be better. This one has the smarts as well as the charm to match, if not surpass, the six men who’ve portrayed Bond. She’s acted in almost every genre, but not played action roles. That won’t stop her as it didn’t stop Sean Connery.

Emma ThompsonEmma Thompson would fit the role perfectly and surpass them all as Bond, Jane Bond.


Romania reverses Nymphomaniac ban

People who are charged with creating the catchy titles for news stories have an interesting problem to resolve. They must convey, in very few words, the gist of the story while also generating enough interest in the reader for them to do more than just scan the text. I regularly read the BBC News website,, and have always found their writers outstanding in their ability in meeting these twin needs. In addition, their sentence structure is quite different than ours here in the US.

Today, January 31, 2014, the following headlines appeared:

  • “Lapdancers cleared of kidnapping” – the whole concept of these performers ransoming off one of their audience members is almost too much to consider.
  • “Soldiers smash eggy soldier record” – clearly the term, eggy, is something the British would understand.
  • Chobham ‘mini-tornado lifted cats in air’” – I read this article just to see if they had photos. Would it be like the cow in the original “Wizard of Oz?”
  • “Suspicious car warning to parents” – is this a story about a built-in device that tells parents the driver is a little off or maybe it’s about a Steven King novel?
  • “ATM spree appeal renewed by police” – is this a new fundraising mechanism by the police?
  • ‘Chewbacca’ attack hits cash tills’” – a “Star Wars” character takes it revenge?
  •  “Cow row in Olympic city” – in England, ‘row’ is pronounced like ‘cow’. It’s probably funnier if you didn’t know that.
  • “Romania reverses Nymphomaniac ban” – (my favorite) I didn’t realize they’d been banned in the first place.

The Woman with the Zebra Print Wallet

She was in the supermarket.  Tall, slender and pretty, she had two items in her carrier as she approached the checkout.  I first noticed the zebra print dress which exposed a great deal of leg as she walked past me.  Standing behind her in the line, I glanced down and saw her matching zebra print high heels.  That did not surprise me since I know how important it is for some people to match their shoes to their outfits.  What did surprise me was the zebra print wallet she pulled out of her purse.

Was she wearing more zebra print underneath that dress?  More importantly, what was her closet like?  Did it include other prints with matching shoes and matching wallets?  And what would she do when fashion changed and she stopped wearing that zebra print dress?  Would she get rid of the shoes and the wallet too?


Get on with it!

Sometimes words are not on the page but spoken by others in performances.  We think of the plays of Shakespeare or Ibsen or maybe the songs of the Beatles whose words transport us to places never imagined or considered.  Words that move us also appear in movies.  The following clips from Them illustrate not only strong writing but depict an even stronger woman, Pat(ricia) Medford, a PhD in biology.  She, Joan Weldon, is the love interest to Robert Graham (James Arness), the FBI agent assigned to the case, in this movie.

She demonstrates her no-nonsense and take-charge attitude in the first two clips.  When I first watched this movie, I was very surprised to see a beautiful woman not only have a science doctorate and only screams once, but also orders the male stars around.  They don’t argue with her; they just do as they are told.

There are many other instances of strong writing by Ted Sherdeman, who wrote the screenplay, and Russell S. Hughes, who adapted the original story by George Worthing Yates, in this movie.  Before you ever see Them, they are constantly referred to as ‘them.’ Read more »


Haruki Murakami

“The role of a story was, in the broadest terms, to transpose a single problem into another form.  Depending on the nature and direction of the problem, a solution could be suggested in the narrative.  Tengo would return to the real world with that suggestion in hand.  It was like a piece of paper bearing the indecipherable text of a magic spell.  At times it lacked coherence and served no immediate practical purpose.  But it would contain a possibility.  Someday he might be able to decipher the spell.  That possibility would gently warm his heart from within.”  page 208, 1Q84

Haruki Murakami‘s words are not only beautifully written but they describe the ultimate goal of every story, to reflect on the human condition and provide insight on dealing with our issues.  I am currently reading 1Q84 and have read The Wild Sheep Chase and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle and his writing touches me deeply.  Strangely fantastic, they lead me down paths and roads not even imagined.  Yet, as quoted above, there is an “indecipherable text” included in each that provides direction for my future.


“You have beautiful eyes”

He was with his wife assisting the kilt company in their tent at the gay rodeo.  A customer returned several times to check the merchandise.  During the third visit, he came to the husband and said, “You have beautiful eyes.”

Why did it take three visits before he got up the courage to speak?  Was he looking for something long term or just a one-night stand?

What was the husband’s reaction?  And his wife’s?  Would he tell this tale to others?  What would they think?  That he was gay as well?  If he spurned this advance, what would the customer do?  What if the husband had responded positively to this advance?

In a story, who would have the larger role?  Would the husband have been in a loveless marriage and seen this as a way out?  Would he have run screaming from the tent?  Why did he stay there in the first place?  What if the customer had come back and pressed the issue?



“Hi, I’m Mallori and I’ll be serving you tonight.  Can I get you something to drink?”

“Sure, I’ll have iced tea with lemon.”

“I’ll be back in a moment.  Let me know if you have any questions about the menu.”


(Mallori leaves and returns soon with the tea and sits across from the patron in the booth.  She pulls out her pad and pen.  She is twenty’ish with shoulder length hair and a nice figure.  She is wearing black slacks and a black tee-shirt with the restaurant’s logo on the left and a beer ad on the back.  The patron is mid-fifties and dressed in a sports coat with a tie.)

“What can I get for you?”

“I’ll have the St. Louis style ribs with the dry rub, half order, with a baked sweet potato and cole slaw.”

“Good choice.  Are you from this area?” Read more »


N. Scott Momaday

I met N. Scott Momaday, a Kiowa, while I was in college.  He has won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer, for his work.  Having read three of his books, The Man Made of Words, House Made of Dawn and The Way to Rainy Mountain, I can only say he paints beautiful pictures with his words.


Hijacking an Army Reserve Vehicle

Summertime and long lines of Army Reserve trucks and jeeps are caravaning down an interstate in the South.

Where are they going or coming from?  What cargo are they carrying?  If someone wanted to steal something in one of these vehicles, how would they do it?

[This was a personal experience with these same questions and formed the basis for my first, unpublished, novel.]


The Artist

Approximately twenty years old, she would open her book and sketch the older woman sitting across from her.  Every time the woman looked up, she would close the sketch book or flip the page to something else she was sketching.  Over a period of about fifteen minutes, she finished the sketch and then began sketching several members of a high school aged tour group.

She was sitting in an international airport terminal waiting for her flight like everyone else there.  Why was she hiding the fact she was sketching the people around her?  What would have happened if the others noticed what she was doing?

If I was to use this in a story, would the artist or the older woman be a major character?  Would she be sketching someone who was trying to remain anonymous, e.g., a spy or a criminal?  If that was the case, and they found out, what would happen to her?

Would this sketch lead her to a life as an artist or would memories of this simply be part of her background?