Saturday, May 31, 2008


Ever notice the tenacity of dandelions? They spread and populate and don't mind being cut down or poisoned. It takes some serious attention to take care of just a few dandelions.

Or so I hear. I rather like the little yellow flowers. I like the way they cover fields and yards, in spite of efforts to stop them. I think they're pretty. And they my favorite symbol of tenacity.

Doesn't matter what one does to a dandelion, it'll be there. (Ha Ha!)

That's my kind of flower.

So, even though my computer randomly shuts down (without even leaving a CLUE in the event log!), I managed to get the novel climax rewritten. I've managed to get on top of a few things, too.

And I'm hanging in there.

Hubby, on the other hand, is hiding. He says he knows better than to mess with a porcupine.

  • What I should be doing: grad school work
  • Current Song: Schism, by Tool

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Boiling a Premise from 70k Words

First, I write a novel of some 70k words. This after playing on the short story side of WriterLand. Going from one to the other is like shifting from fifth to first gears-- even if you can get the clutch to engage, it's a damn bumpy ride.

After coaxing those 70k words from the keyboard (and the thousands more that never made the final cut), I have to boil down the whole novel into a premise of a sentence or two. And a short query. And a synopses.

It's a good thing I have a lot of hair, because this process will surely require more than a few handfuls yanked out for the release of dopamine and stress.

Over at Muderati a while back, there was a post on Premises. Readers, like me, were invited to join in. So I banged together a premise and submitted it:

"Bo Fexler, sexy female PI, uses her brains, fists, and body as she encounters sex, violence and drugs in a hunt for a missing man and his ugly secrets."

The response was positive:

Clair: I was intrigued, but wanted a few more concrete details to be really hooked and want to read. Can you give us a specific about the man or his secrets? Also, you might start with "Sexy Bo Fexler, female PI". It never hurts to start with sex, if you can :-)
Posted by: Angelle

I've never been content as a B student, so I'm going to give this another run.

"Sexy Bo Fexler, female PI, uses her brains, her fists, and her body while searching for Jon Lastrum, a polite, ambitious, perfect and missing man. What she finds is a trail of drugs, sex, and violence that will either lead her to Jon or to someone far more dangerous."

So, what do you think?

Are you getting excited about the book yet?

  • Novel Progress: Finishing Climax v2, I think
  • Reason for not writing: Sooooo fatigued. I'd get more done if I didn't sleep fourteen hours a day. =(
  • Current Song: Rape Me by Nirvana

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Everything Falls Apart

... And always at the same time.

My computer is broken. My car is dying of rust and old age. My novel needs a rewrite at the end. And I'm probably going to be broke all summer.

This was not a very good weekend for me.

I mean, I knew my car was dying. It's a fourteen year old car that has lived it's entire life in Michigan. The salt and rust are killing it. This weekend just included a grim prognoses from the mechanic: There's not much he can do to repair some of the rusting out parts. Parts whose failure means safety issues and/or certain wreckage.

My computer has developed rather severe form of narcolepsy. It will shut down in the middle of whatever I am doing. Sometimes there seems to be a cause. Sometimes, not. It's getting a little, ah, aggravating. And it certainly interfers with my desire to work on the rewrite I need.

The rewrite doesn't surprise me. The core is good, but I got to tweak it. I think that's actually pretty standard for me, looking back at how I write. Usually, I put the story aside for a bit then re-evaluate. Upon reevaluation, I usually tweak the climax. Since the ending of any story is always the hardest for me, it's no surprise that the novel needs work, too. At least the bones are good, it just needs some serious cosmetic surgery.

Though it looks like I'll have plenty of time to write this summer. My retail job, which I primarily keep for extra hours in the summer or here and there, probably won't have any hours for me. That sucks. That's going to hurt the old paycheck. Though, it will free up some time for reading, which is nice.

And, oh yeah, was getting ready to post this and the button popped off my pants. Nice. I think I'll just curl up with a book and try to escape for a while.

  • Novel Regress-- back to chapter 31 to rework the tension and excitement of the finale
  • Current Song: Missing by Evanescense

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Workspace Meme

Saw this over at Stuart Neville's blog and thought it looked like fun.

From Stuart's site:

So, here's my idea for a Meme, which I will now inaugurate as Workspace Wednesday. It's inspired by a fascinating article at the Guardian Books website, highlighted by Josie. The article is a gallery of well-known writers' offices and workspaces, with a note from each author on the things scattered around them. Anyway, I thought us less well-known writers could have a bash.

There are only a few guidelines:

1) You must take a photo of your workspace and post it to your blog.

2) You must provide a few words about it.

3) You must NOT tidy, clean or otherwise stage the workspace - it must be EXACTLY as it usually is (you can see that I followed this rule

4) (Optional) You can nominate as many or as few others as you wish.

So here's my workspace.

I staked my territory in the second bedroom of our rented condo. It sure as hell beat being wedged into a corner of the living room like I had been at the small apartment by the railraod tracks.

This is standing in the doorway. Yes, I have TWO desks, both about 6 feet long. I inherited one from my older bother-- I mean, brother, yeah-- and the other from hubby's sister. It's still not enough desk space. Between the desk and the corner of the wall is my pile 'o boxes. Don't know what I'm saving them for, but I am. It matches the pile in the living room...

So, this is where I sit. This is actually looking pretty clean-- no, I didn't violate the terms of the meme. Last week, I picked up because I wasn't quite done putting off grading.

I do have two computers. Usually the laptop just goes to school with me where I use it for grades or to check my email with a poached Wi-fi signal from the neighbor. When I'm working on something that requires a lot of wait time from my main computer, I pull up the laptop and put those few minutes of wait time to good use. No wasted minutes allowed. ;-)

The keyboard on the desk is over 12 years old by now. It works perfectly. It's my lifelong goal to type a keyboard to death. No luck. But I did scroll a mouse to death.

The big binder is my collection of print outs of Bo Fexler short stories. Everytime one comes out, there's a big little ceremony to print a copy, update my spreadsheet of published stories, and do a little happy dance.

On the other side of my office is where I collect old assignments from teaching. I don't have my own classroom, so I just cart the stuff back home at the end of the term. Occaisionally, I go through it and get rid of (recycle) outdated things or assignments that were modified for less whining.

Next to my CD rack is my wooden Crayola factory box. As a Crayola kid (if you scroll back up, you'll see I have a 64 box of crayons on my desk) I HAD to get this box when we went to Easton, Penn to the Crayola factory. I would have given my left leg for the box-- they let me take it home for only a trio of tens.

Because I'm such an organized person, I have boxes to toss things into by activity. The top is writing. The middle is Real Estate, and the bottom is Grad School. I pretend I'm going to sort them later. After I learn to fly.

You can see above the boxes that I have a couple shelves of little guys. Their Star Wars Galactic Heroes (aka Squatty Guys). I collect them.

Like, all of them. =)

This pic also shows the little chair in the corner of my office. It's primarily where I pile my sweaters, but hubby sits there when he comes to chat with me in my lair. Oh, wait. No, we left the chair there to give hubby a place to sit. I just toss my sweaters there. And everywhere else. Hubby just sits on them. He's really tolerant. Good thing...

I love my office. It's like a porcupine burrow where I can hang out. I have everything I need.

And surprisingly, I get all my work done in here.

And if anyone else wants to play, consider yourself tagged.

Except Patti. I'm tagging you for all the times you got me. =D

Oh, yeah, r2, I don't have your email so I can't send you anything. Send me an email at socalledauthor AT yahoo dot com.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Finding Time to Write

A perennial challenge, to be certain. When, in the course of a busy day, busy week, busy life does one find the time to write?

For me, it's every spare minute. A line here. A few minutes before bed. Late into the evening when I have to work the next morning. A paragraph, a page. An idea hastily scribbled on the notepad beside my bed by the "light" that makes it through the blinds, hoping that I can read what I've written come morning but unwilling to get up or turn on the light. Even though hubby would probably sleep through it. He sure as hell doesn't wake up when he rolls over on me.

Wanna see my head explode? Stop me from writing and in a matter of days, brains and goo will splatter all over. Like a squashed beetle.

I HAVE to find time to write. Even though I work over fifty hours on an average week (more when it's grading time) and take grad school courses. Writing takes precedence over any other recreational activity. Though, sometimes writing is a bit of a chore when I can't figure out what to do with particular scene, besides drag out back and shoot it.

I am so envious of the people who read a book in a week. I'm lucky if I get through a book in a month. And I'm a quick reader. Though, I always have a dozen or so short stories read in the course of a month. And blogs... though reading blogs is kind of like cheating at baseball by using a wiffle bat. It's amusing, but it's not going to get me anywhere.

The only time I'm not writing is when I'm between projects or when I'm stuck, but not ready to admit that the idea needs to be euthanized for my own good.

I'd give up just about anything if I could have more time to write.

Except hubby. Y'know, I'm kind of fond of the guy.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Excuses and Explanations

These words, by very definition are not the same. They are not even synonyms. They are completely different animals (one has stripes.)

Yet, this is this dreadful abuse of Excuse. The word Excuse has been violated by thickskulled asses. An explantion of events is not asking to be excused for the situation.

I hear so many students telling me how this or that happened-- students who are very honest and hard working-- yet in their story, they will repeatedly mention how they know it's not an excuse. Well, hand me a red pen and call me a teacher, but there are legitimate excuses, and more importantly, there are explanations. Both are fine. Being late with an assignment because your grandpa spent the night in the hospital, yeah, that is, on it's face, an explanation. I may excuse you. Unless you've already had five grandpas die this year. Even then, if you've been through a few parental divorces, that may be legit too.

Intent, while being the hardest to guage, is also the key to an excuse. If a person is looking to slide out of trouble or repirmand like a wet baby, then it's a slimy excuse. If the person is explaining facts and understands that they have not done as expected, then it's a different matter. A matter treated more compassionately.

Of course, a corporate-minded world doesn't like compassion. Or 'exceptions'. Or anything human or humane. This corporate philosophy and all it's vileness is spreading like cancer into all realms, from health care to education.

There's no excuse for that. And the explanation is pretty poor too. People are human. Treat them well and most will respond in kind.

And don't abuse the word "Excuse."

The English language suffers enough. ;-)

  • Novel Progress: Editing Chapter 31 (holding just under 69k)
  • Current Song: Fell in Love with Girl by the White Stripes

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Importance of Appearance

Anyone says that appearance doesn't matter is lying. Or at least decieved themselves. Appearance is crucial. It is the first part of a first impression.

Some folks are afraid of the kid with the twenty pounds of chains hanging from his huge pants or the kid with the seven inch neon green mohawk. (They may even be the same kid!) My experience with these kids is that they are often the ones who are comfortable with who they are and they're usually the nicest kids. Some have a tough veneer, but if you don't dis them, then all is good in the world. But because of their appearance, many people stay away from them.

The kid with thick glasses must be a nerd. The fat kid must eat all day. The guy in the cowboy hat must be uneducated. The guy in the suit must be a professional. The pretty girl must be stuck-up. And the girl in the tight pants and low-cut shirt must be an easy slut.

It's this last one that plays a lot into how I write Bo Fexler. She is, as written, unusually attractive. She certainly knows it and knows how she can get many men to sit up a beg. But, like any sexy girl, she gets judged on her appearance. She's certainly not going to be considered highly intelligent.

On the other side, there's the author. Apparently, I don't look like someone who can use Fuck in the most liberal of fashions or turn any comment into a sexual reference (it's a skill) or even like a person who listens to Tool or Metallica or Garbage. People who only know me in certan settings-- like school or my retail job-- often have trouble believing just how crude and vulgar my regular speech actually is. No, really, ask my hubby.

Maybe it's the glasses or the long straight hair or my manner of dress. These are all things that people use in forming an impression-- not just of me but of anyone.

First impressions are niether right or wrong. They just are. But they can be affected by biases, known or unkown. How we react to each other is an important element for writing fiction, too.

How does everyone else see your character? What biases does your character have? Having been regarded as a sex object for so long, Bo (Not me! ;-) certainly has a extra active wariness towards men who come on to her. Being a over-educated word nerd, I tend towards quieter people.

What conclusions (Good, bad, or indifferent) have you made on appearance?

  • Current Song: Beautiful, by Joydrop

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Various Things Meme

Patti Abbott tagged me again with a meme. So, I'll play along the best I can.

1. The rules of the game get posted at the beginning.
2. Each player answers the questions about themselves.
3. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5-6 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read the player’s blog.
4. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

Various Things Meme
1. What were you doing 10 years ago?
Well, ten years ago would be 1998. In that particular year, I dropped out of high school. I was a junior in high school at the time and more than fed up with the bullshit at my particular so-called learning institution. Institution is apt, learning, not so much. I started working full time at my retail job and got my GED (that was a breeze!). Fall of 1998, I enrolled at our local community college and began my college education. Now, that I actually enjoyed.

This time ten years ago, I met this blond guy with glasses and a cute smile. Damn, that was ten years ago? Anyway, this cute guy who worked midnights is the first and last man I ever dated-- I ended up marrying him. That'll teach him.

2. What are five things on your to-do list today?
Today, I have to write up the questions for the US History assignment I'm going to give my alt ed students tomorrow. I also have to work on my HyperStudio media assignment for my grad course, also due tomorrow. I have to beat my husband to the washing machine and do some laundry or I'll have to go to school nekkid. I've got to come up with a My Town Monday Post. And lastly, I'm hoping to get a few more chapters of my Novel edited tonight to send to my beta-reader. Procrastinate? Ya think?

3. What are some snacks that you enjoy?
Natrual Lay's chips, Breyer's Chocolate Crackle or Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate yogurt covered raisons, fruit, olives-- both green and black.

4. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Put a million or so in the bank-- and prepare to live off the interest. Finally purchase a house-- ooo, or build one! Play phinlantrophist for the school I currently teach at, including a nice building all our own, tables and chairs the kids all actually fit at, carts of laptops (and wireless internet!). Buy a media blitz for my novel when it comes out. Probably do some more philantrohpy-- build small high schools and re-educate teachers and staff how to maximize from them.

5. What are five places you have lived?
Born in Elkart Indiana. Folks moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan (no recollection!). Grew up in Hamburg, MI. Since then, have lived in Brighton and Howell. Want to get back to Brighton. Hamburg, Brighton, and Howell are all in Livingston County, Michigan.

6. What are five jobs you've had?
Alternative High School Teacher, Retail Clerk, Real Estate Agent, Computer Consultant (okay, my boss is my mom), and Tutor. The first four, I am still currently working as. =P

7. What are the last five books you read?
In no particular order: A Study in Scarlett (Arthur Conan Doyle), The Counte of Monte Cristo, abridged! (Alexendre Dumas), Angela's Ashes (Frank McCourt), Baby Shark (Robert Fate), and The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammet)

8. What are five websites you visit every day (in no particular order)? (local paper's online edition)

9. Tag 5 people
I'm the last kid picked to play. Now when it comes to team sports, I usually find a spot in the outfield where I can pick dandelions and daydream. When it comes to meme's, I had fun, but there's no one I know who hasn' t been tagged yet. So, I'll just stay out here in the dandelions. Tenacious plant that it is-- trample it, mow it, poision it, and it will come back. Dandelions are forever.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Playing with the Boys

Over at Poe's Deadly Daughters yesterday, there was a post on 'boy books' vs 'girl books'. Which got me thinking about what I write.

According to the post, boy books would have the loner PI and girl books would focus more on connections and relationships. I don't disagree with this-- men usually want to work out problems and women usually want to make connections. If we go with generalizations, of course.

I don't think labeling what guys and girls prefer to be sexist, per se, but don't tell me what, as a girl, I want. I'm not the typical girl-- maybe because I grew up with all brothers or something else. I can change a tire, change my oil, build a computer, troubleshoot a network, and write a fictional dame that quite a few men-folk seem to enjoy. And for the love of all things Star Wars, I don't want to talk about my feelings or about 'men.'

Would Bo's Novel, "Sex and Violence" be a boy book or a girl book? It's got the loner PI, though she does make a new friend in her new town. It's got sex and violence and crude language. It's got Bo being both bully and seductress. Being the non-typical girl, I don't know if I can make a good classification. My inclination is towards it being a more of a boy book than a girl one.

But I always have tended to play with the boys than the girls.

I don't have anything against girls. Well, except the whole man-bashing thing-- if I wanted to bash a man, I'd use a tire iron.

As for changing my name, or using initials, to get more guy readers-- with a title like "Sex and Violence" and, hopefully, a sexy woman on the cover, I don't know if my name would even be an issue.

Besides, Clair (without an e) is the masculine spelling any how.

  • Novel progress: 68k words
  • Current Song: Everything Zen by Bush

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Ladies and Gentlemen, along with men and women who cannot be categorized as lady-like or gentlemenly (like me.) I think we finally have a title for the first Bo Fexler Novel, which, happily, is moving nicely into the completion stages.

My beta-reader is enjoying it, so that's a good sign. There was a false start, whereupon I remembered that there are two elements to Bo Fexler stories-- plot and ATTITUDE. In all caps. But, beyond that, feedback has been quite good.

I wish I could say I knew that, but I was quite nervous when I sent the first batch of chapters to my dear beta-reader. But, so far, there are three thumbs up for "Sex and Violence."

Would you pick it up from the bookstore shelf?

How about if there was a sexy dame on it, too?

Monday, May 12, 2008

My Town Monday: Local Books

Today is supposed to be a special My Town Monday where participants read a book set in their town and talk about it. I liked the idea, and I'm going to read all about where the other My Town Monday posters live and the books written there. (You should to-- go see Travis Erwin for links.)

However I didn't find any books set in Livingston County, Michigan. There are several local history books, which I would give my left arm to actually own... the historical societies printed them but don't have them anymore.

Elmore Leonard lives in Whitmore Lake last I knew. His mystery stories were set in Detroit, apparently since he grew up there.

Michael Moore hails from Flint. I'm told that one of my aunts used to work for him delivering the first paper he printed.

Steve Hamilton wrote the Alex McKnigt series set in the Upper Peninsula. And I'm sure there are other Michigan-based stories.

But nothing seems to be set in Livingston County. Not yet, at least.

For now, the only stories I know of set in Livingston County are my own. "Assortment of Bullies," "Failing Mark," & "Pleasure Business" (see links-->) are clearly set in Livingston County. There are others that, well, as the author, I know they're Livingston County stories, but there's nothing in the text to convey that.

Perhaps it's because there's nothing particularly distinctive or noteworthy about this area. It's your pretty average place. It does have a little itty-bitty hamlet called "Hell" (yep, Hell, Michigan is in Livingston County... I'll have a post on that some day soon!)

I think the average-ness is what makes it a perfect setting. This is "Anytown, USA." It's also the setting I use in my Bo Fexler novel. In my novel, I refer to the local places (and the local weather trend of winter returning univited for an encore in March.) It could be any small city, any county that suffers from lopsided, speedy growth. You may not be able to find it on the map of Michigan unless you know where to look, but at the same time, it could just as well be any other place.

Do other readers like the idea of a story set anywhere? Or do you prefer traveling to some other city, with recognizable landmarks?

As a reader, I'm a little of both. As a writer, I write what I know. And I know Livingston County.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Editing Other People

The longer I've been writing, the harder reading is. The off-switch on my internal editor is broken. I've tried duct tape and zipties, but it didn't work. Which is not a good sign-- in my world, anything that can't be repaired with duct tape or zipties is *really* broken and needs replacing.

So, unfortunately, while I'm reading, I find myself critiquing. I continually question the purpose of scenes, especially if it seems to be a couple of characters sitting around bullshitting. Character development is all well and good, but there have been scenes where I learned nothing knew about the characters. And it didn't advance the plot. My internal editor shrieks "Cut this scene!" In blue. Because my TrakChanges comments on Bo's Novel are primarily in blue.

This does cut down a bit on the enjoyment of reading because I get bored. Like many of them yunguns today, I get bored when I don't see the point of something. My only defense is that I'll go longer before I give up because of that boredom.

The other thing I find myself doing, especially if the story has hit a slower moving part (like that character development stuff), I edit individual sentences for clarity and flow. Yeah. It's a sickness. Especially dialogue.

I get this twitch when I read stilted dialogue. Stuff that looks great on paper, but isn't how people talk. On the flip side, don't do nunuv that vernaculah spellin', dawg. That pisses me off more than mousy, meek giggly girly-girls.

There are few books I've read in the past two years since I started *Seriosly* writing for publication that I have managed to read with minimal Internal Editor Commentary.

The up side of this is that I am hypercritical of my own writing. I'd like to think this has helped me get more stories published. I'm not lenient on my own writing and have been known to throw out whole huge amusing scenes because they failed the "what's the point?" question. But I would like to enjoy reading a bit more.

And don't even ask about movies...

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bo in Pulp Pusher

Bo's got a story in the recent issue of Pulp Pusher. The story is called "Par for the Course" and has Bo investigating who would carve a vile word in the grass at the golf course.

And, I'll admit it. I've got this little antogonistic streak that runs through me. I read the guidelines at Pulp Pusher where they say: If you have a golf course in your story, there better be a damn good reason." Sex and murder seem to be good enough reasons.

I'm not a golfer. There are only 5,643 other things I would rather do with my time. Though, I did grow up in a house next to the golf course. We sold golf balls back to the golfers. I thnk they only bought them because we were kids trying to make a few bucks to go the video arcade on the corner. Pity money is like pity sex-- it's still good!

And those big sprinklers-- those'll take your skin off you get too close. The water coming out of there will soak your clothes on the first pass. When the big ones came on, we'd only play in it for a few minutes before we were drenched and cold.

I never found any condoms on the golf course, though. Or in the woods beyond it. In fact, I've never found a wayward condom yet, come to think of it.

  • Novel Progress: 64,000 words, moving into revision stage 1.
  • Reason for not writing: Curriculum bullshit
  • Current Song: No Rain by Blind Melon

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Town Monday: Vocabularly Lesson

Livingston County is part of Michigan. Around here, we call this:


We don't drink "Soda" in this state. It's Pop. I have pop in my fridge right now. (It's Diet Pepsi.)

In Michigan, we also have Faygo. It's a Michigan product. And one of Faygo's products is Red Pop.
Because this is Michigan and we call it Pop.

We're also likely to pick up our Pop at a Party Store. Apparently, people in other non-mitten shaped states would go to a Party Store to pick up paper plates, hats, balloons and streamers. Our party stores mainly sell Liquor. And overpriced Pop.

You can return your empty Pop (but not Soda) bottles, along with your empty beer cans at the Party Store to get your deposit back. Carbonated drinks have a 10 cent deposit in Michigan. You pay the extra 10 cents on carbonated drinks, but you get the money back when you return them. Unfortunately this does not apply to water or juice, even if it comes in the SAME bottle as, say, your Pepsi. I hope legistalition will change this, but, well, probably not since they are legislators. The idea behind the deposit was to keep litter down and help recycle. 10 cents is enough to get most people to return their bottles.

Growing up in Michigan, it's not at all uncommon to go hunting for bottles tossed out car windows. It was a few bucks to spend on candy.
Or Better Made Potato Chips.

Another Michigan brand.

Like Vernors. Another kind of Pop. Apparently some folks never drank Vernors. Makes your nose feel all fizzy. I mistook a cup of beer for Vernors when I was young... that was very disappointing.

Around here, you'll find quite a few folks who head "Up North" for vacation, usually to hunt. They may or may not make it across the Mackinac (that's pronounced Mack-i-naw, of course) Bridge to the UP (or Upper Pennisula.)

Or they might travel to the "Big Lake." Yeah, in a state surrounded by Big Huge Lakes, everyone who goes to one of the Great Lakes really does just call it the Big Lake. My family usually went to Lake Huron-- that was our "The Big Lake." And we always brought pop for the trip.

I know the obvious Michigan words, but some of them surprise me. Apparently the rest of you don't say "Doorwall" for a sliding glass door.

We say 'kitty korner' rather than caddy corner. We usually say freeway or expressway (or eway) but not highway. And apparently the rest of you thaw or de-ice while we dethaw.

Around here, you might cry alligator tears if you're losing bad at Euchre while outside there's a toad drownder going on.

Or at least in some regions we do.

But we still drink pop. The only soda we have is baking soda.

Because this is Michigan.

And if any of you guys (not youse guys) know any other words that are uniquely Michigan, please, let me know! As a life long Michigander (do NOT say Michiganian!) I would love to hear what we say that you don't!

Friday, May 2, 2008

Forgotten Book Friday

Today's Pick: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

This is a short book. It's a Young Adult book and it's great. It's a mystery with a cooky cast of characters. Like Turtle who gets a closet for a bedroom and kicks everyone who touches her braids. Of course, with a *Perfect* sister who their mother loves best, who can blame the kid?

At first, the story seems like a bunch of stereotypes, but the mystery and the game that they all get thrust into reveals that most of these characters have a lot of depth. The mystery and game come from the death of Sam Westing, who is a local bazillionaire. The residents of Sunset Towers are all told that they are heirs and that they must play this game to get their winnings.

But there's another layer when someone starts setting off bombs in Sunset Towers. Who is not who they seem? Is anyone who they seem to be? It's a really quick read and a lot of fun. Astute readers will probably solve the puzzle before the characters do (my stupid, I mean, darling, husband who always figures these things out did... I never do.) But I think it's still a fun read to see how the characters get there.

Oh, yeah, this is another book I use in school. And the kids like it. "It was actually pretty good," they tell me. Yeah. I know.