Thursday, August 28, 2008


I'm very resistant to MyFaceTwitter sites. So far, no one has been able to convince me of the benefits of any of them beyond this nebulous "networking" thing. Though my cousin has been trying. (I think living and working in the D.C. area is affecting her brain. ;-)

I do see the benefits of networking. I troll along crime blogs and other places, looking for interesting things to read and places where I can hang out among other nut cases. This often brings a few folks back to my own blog. But would they read my fiction? If not, then what am I doing?

If I'm doing any sort of pimping, I want to pimp my writing, and someday my novel(s). That's my goal for this networking stuff. Especially since I'm about as social as a porcupine.

I also don't have any kids or marital stories that I feel make good conversation. Part of the reason why there aren't many such stories on here. (The fact that I don't HAVE kids is a seperate issue!) I honestly think that there is little in my life that is that interesting. And who the HELL cares if at this minute I'm baking bread or if I just finished rearranging the piles in my office into other piles or if I'm sitting down to watch a movie? I see some of those Twitters... and honestly, there is no one that I'm that intersted in keeping that close of tabs on. Including Hubby. Unless I'm trying to plan something with him. (And it's okay if you're mind goes to the gutter-- mine does. =D)

So what would I do with a MyFaceTwitter? I'm not going to spend my time trolling other profiles, looking for people. I'm not going to update it often-- I have this blog and that's really plenty. Sometimes it takes all day to think of something for my scheduled post. But I'm thinking, with a twisted scowl, that for networking purposes, that once my book gets a publication date, I will stake my claim in the anti-social networking lands. For promotional purposes. I may be resistant, but I'm not stupid. I know that I have to suck it up and think like a business person at that point. Schmooze and get my name out there to the masses who may or may not read my book.

Though I may just pose nude for my author photo. That would generate plenty of buzz for my book.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Love Stories

Casablanca is supposed to be a great love story, aside from just a great movie. I showed it in class last term and ended up with one rather disillusioned student. She was quite upset because it was about ADULTERY.

I tried to point out that when they were in Paris, she thought her hubby was dead. She reminded me that when they were at Casabalanca, she was still in love with him. And was trying to play that old love. Totally ruined the movie for her.

And made me wonder about it. A lot of romantic movies include breaking up one couple so the "right" couple can get together. I guess it has to do with creating conflict, but surely there are other ways to create conflict in a romantic movie without including other people in the relationship? Aside from that, I always feel bad for the person who gets jilted-- usually because the lead character has been cheating on them.

But I'm also one of those folks who doesn't believe affairs "just happen." They happen because no one says "please, don't unzip my pants." Making no choice-- just letting something happen-- is the same as making a choice. But we sometimes pretend that we had no choice to comfort ourself with the choice we have already made. (Said best in Babylon 5 TV show.)

I hate cheating. I've also never made a quick decision in my life. So it always seems a little odd when I try to write about cheaters (as is pretty typical fare in PI fiction). I always try to understand why my character, even minor ones, have picked that course of action. It's not always easy to come with rational that works, at least on some level.

But I still have trouble wrapping my mind around it. And I "tease" Hubby that any part of him that touches another woman-- I cut off. He usually tells me, "That might hurt." That's the point, sweetheart.

Monday, August 25, 2008

My Town Monday: The CSX Railway

There are seven railway crossing in Brighton, where the CSX meets a local road. Seven. And them wonderful CSX train engineers have to hoot the horn-- LOUDLY-- at every single crossing. All seven of them.

And it is possible to hoot the horn less loudly... I've heard it. Just not often on the CSX. This railway runs through Livingston County, coming from Detroit and heading towards Lansing and points beyond.

--In real life, you can make out the crossings at Main Street and Walnut/Fourth Street in the distance.

--In real life, you can make out the crossing at Brighton Lake Road. After that, it's a while before another crossing.

Back in the 1880s when the line was being laid, the railway was called the Detroit, Lansing and Northern. Around 1950 the system was bought by the Chesapeke and Ohio (C&O) railway. There was a brief stint where at least part of the DNL/CSX line was owned by the Pere Marquette company, but it's hard to tell from the historical records I have whether Pere Marquette was just the branch of the line that headed North through Novi/Wixom/Milford (farther East than these parts.) Apparently, some folks thought the initials for Pere Marquette (PM) meant Poor Management...

Then in the 1980s, about a hundred years after the rail line was built, it was owned by my pals CSX. The noisy trains of the CSX irritate me almost as much as Comcast Cable. Hubby and I lived nearly on top of the CSX railline for five years in small apartment. We heard the trains go rumbling through town. This same train used to make me late for work sometimes when I was new at my first "real" job at our local regional supercenter.

This same line aslo gets the dubious distinction of being the "South Lyon Train". This is also a measure of how SLOW something is going. As in, "Traffic through there was moving slower than the South Lyon train!" The reason is because where the CSX cuts through South Lyon, for some reason it moves with all the speed of a snail crawling backwards. Probably doesn't top 10mph on a fast day. Since the CSX line cuts right across Pontiac Trail-- THE one, major N/S route through South Lyon-- AND across 10 Mile (the one paved, major East/West route heading out of the town of South Lyon, particularly to go East to Novi et all-- the CSX railway manages to stop up ALL traffic through the town for a good long time. It's really a remarkable feat.

(spare parts?)

The train line went in during the 1880s. It runs a route more or less parallel to that of Grand River Ave (formerly the Grand River Trail) and I-96, connecting Lansing with Detroit. There was a passenger station for the CSX line in Fowlerville, Howell, and in South Lyon, but I can find no record of a depot in Brighton (so far). Though in the early 1900s, Brighton was a collection of small buildings nestled near the rail road tracks on the Grand River Trail, kind of along the North/ South route between Hamburg and Hatland (even smaller towns!). I believe that the train still or eventually did make stops in the city of Brighton because that would explain the existance of the "Western Hotel" which is right on the train tracks.

-- The three story brick building is the Western Hotel. This barren area beside the tracks here may well have been where passengers got off.

There was a great deal of excitement when the Detroit, Lansing and Northern line was actually completed through the area, as it was a project from 20 to 30 years in the making. The trains even gave free rides to the locals.

While I was out taking pictures today, I caught this one of the CSX trucks rolling along the track in downtown Brighton. Kinda neat.

Come back next week for the Grand Trunk Western.

Saturday, August 23, 2008


Everyone likes boobs. Men look at women's boobs. Women look at other women's boobs. Most people try not to get caught.

Since it's summer, boobs are out in plenty right now. And one of the things an observer might notice is that skinny women don't have very big boobs. If they do, they're probably fake. Or padded. Ever notice how much padding there are in bras...? Anyway.

I'd like to think I'm not too far into the land of Golden Words, but one of the thing that always bothers me is how Bo Fexler might appear in a visual medium-- a picture, moving or otherwise. I would really, really hate to see her have big tits. In my mind, since she's a tall thin woman with some damn fine curves, she doesn't have very large boobs. All natural. She may be hot, but she's not some perfect female ideal-- she has long legs and hips, but not much in boobs.

But last time I checked, most guys are happy with any boobs they can see and hold. Size matters not. They're boobs. That makes them inherently enjoyable.

And everyone loves boobs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cleaning Questions

Where did this come from?
Why did I save it?
Should I keep it?
When-- in what alternate parallel universe-- would I have need for this?
Why can't I throw it away?

So, we were cleaning up the old place because the landlady (aka hubby's older sister) is preparing for what we hope will be our eventual departure in coming months. In other words-- we're planning to move out and she's listing the place for sale.

In Michigan.

Snowball's chance, to be certain.

But, we'll all play along and list the property, clean it up and show it if anyone is intersted in it. We stuffed things in the closet that have always just never made into the closests. Like my Star Wars displays I poached from my retail job. Or the pile of Pokemon cards next to my spot at the cluttered dining room table.

Clutter. As we were moving things to try to find a new spot to stuff them, I kept coming back to the above questions. Some things I was able to pitch. Like the bumper stickers for the local radio station that I kind of don't ever listen to anymore. Not since I found the alt rock station. Or the extra cardboard video tape sleeves that have no tapes... how did that happen, anyway?

Then there are other things that I know will be useful someday. Like the lengths of cable for the TV, a landline phone, and the computer network. The adapter for eletrical devices and a PS2/USB adapter. Cord extenders, power supplies, a hard drive, you know, useful stuff. Someday.

Then there's the oddball shit. Like the socket that doesn't match the set and I don't even know WHY I have this particular one. I don't think it even fits the baby socket wrench I have. My guess? My Oldest Bother would like it back someday. ;-) Or the pack with three crayons. Not even Crayola crayons, but some cheap crayons taht I would never use anyonway because they're not Crayola. Debris. Things I can't seem to part with but realisitcally won't ever use.

Espcially once I put that stuff in a box and hide it away some where.

But moving (or in this case, preparing to show a property) is a good time to force oneselve to go through those piles of shit that were always saved for later.

I keep telling myself that when we move into our next place, which should be far more permnent than this dwelling was ever intended to be, that we'll have better storage solutions for the strange debris that breeds in the dark. I even believe myself.

Except for my office. That-- that's just hopeless. The best I can do is subdue the beast for a few days at a time. Then it goes back to breeding more papers, paperclips, and half-legible notes scribbled on half sheets of scrap paper than I can never throw out or find a home for... This is where it's the worst. Like the mother Alien. Somedays I'm lucky to get out alive. Somedays, I really do think I need a flame thrower.

Where does your clutter breed best?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


So, yesterday, I alluded to my adventure in driving. I drive an old car. A nice old 1994 Cavalier with some 155k miles on it. It's a good little car. Mostly.

Except when it doesn't stop. That's the one failure on an old car that is complete unacceptable. I've always and only ever owned old cars. If it's not years, it's miles. Of the four cars I've owned, this is the second one that had the brakes fail.

The first, my old blue Tortoise, popped a brake line in a parking lot late one night. Fine, fine.

My little green car decided to pull the same stunt on GRAND RIVER (aka the busiest damn road in the county after the e-ways) at lunch time. Luckily, I had just pulled onto Grand River and luckily I wasn't going fast since the next line was clearly red. I hit the brakes only to find that they, um, weren't stopping me. I hit them harder-- and felt the line pop. Thank goodness for modern cars! I still have enough brake fluid and pressure to stop before I nosed into the car in front of me.

In fact, I had enough braking that I was able to crawl (limp) my car across town to the reputable car repair shop I use when my Zans for Cans (aka Mechanic Brother) is unavailable for immediate repairs. Like brakes failing in the middle of the day...

The thing that always bothers me with brake line failures is the lack of warning. There's a reason that my Hubby has the new shiny not-worn out car and I have 'old and busted'. He grew up with sisters, I grew up with brothers: I know the difference between a slightly busted, mostly busted, and completey broken car just by sound and feel. (No, I don't fix it myself. I'm an indoor kitten.=)

Of course, the type of car a person (real or fictional) drives says something about them. So does their reaction to any driving problems. I'm not a panicky person-- though I was eyeballing the ol' curb and wondering if I should try hopping it rather than nail the SUV in front of me. (Always an SUV... my little car would be extra-mangled sliding under one of them!)

Though having the brakes fail on Grand River is at least something I may be able to put into a story. Maybe make a mystery of whether it was malicious or not? Maybe make it more exciting? Yes-- as I was sitting in the repair shop waiting for some sort of chariot to bear me home, I strated thinking of scenes and stories. Nothing solid, but it is a nice way to pass the time. That and listening to the stories people tell when they come in with *their* cars.

What's your favorite tale of car mishaps?

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Town Monday: Ann Arbor Railroad

By the late 1800s, Howell was already being served by an East/West train rail that ran from Detroit, to Lansing and then on to points north.

Howell thought it would be a great idea to have a second rail line through the city. The first one had brought great growth and more growth had to be a good thing.

Some years before, a rail line was proposed to run from Toledo to Ann Arbor and then onto the North. (Places north of Lansing in Michigan were pretty sparsely populated for a long time, and in fact, many areas are still thinly populated, with the exceptions being resort towns like Mackinaw City and Traverse City.) Many railways at the time included "Northnern" in their name.

The Ann Arbor Railway ended it's northern run for years in South Lyon. But the ex-governor of Toledo had long planned to see the rail line continue to the North.

The residents of Howell raised $20,000 to get the Ann Arbor Rail Road to come through Howell. Apparently it worked. I can't find any exact accounts at this point as to what happened with the South Lyon branch of the line, but at some point the line was removed. It was called the Toledo and Ann Arbor Western line. The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern line went North out of Ann Arbor, through Whitmore Lake, jogged west in Hamburg (to Zukey Lake.) and then headed on up through Howell and North to Durand, a large railroad town.

The Ann Arbor Railroad (apparently) stopped running any passenger lines in 1950-1. It is now a shipping line, with a main office in downtown Howell.

About 20 years ago, the Ann Arbor railroad became the Tuscola and Saginaw Bay Rail line under a conglomerate company. On railmaps of Michigan, the line is TSBY (though I prefer Ann Arbor Rail Road and my bias is evident in the name I chose to use throughout this piece. =)

The Ann Arbor railroad, paritcularly the station on Wetmore Street in Howell, has seen new life in recent years. During big events, such as one of the many festivals in Howell, the line comes to life with dinner rides and short trips. During the Christmas season, there is a Santa Train that takes kids to "the North Pole" to see Santa.

The Ann Arbor railroad, in general is the quieter line, and the one that's nicer to live next to. Since I'm one of those 'wealthy' people who has their pick of where to live in town, I've ended up at different times living next to both the Ann Arbor and the CSX, the two active rail lines in Livingston County. I will never, ever live next to the CSX again. I would rather live in some, dark broken handy-man special in the middle of nowhere (or even Folwerville) before I voluntarily live next to the CSX. Noisy, noisy train with it's WHOO-WHOO thirty-nine times when Monk (or anyother TV detective) is explaining what really happened... Yeah. No. Never again.

Next week, antoher of Livingston County's three rail lines! And maybe pictures. I would have had pictures, but today got a bit derailed (ha!) when the brakes failed on my car. I'm fine, car's fine, but my afternoon was ruined.

Check out other My Town Monday posts at Travis Erwin's site.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


How do you talk to someone who doesn't listen?

Or perhaps it's more a question of how do you keep talking to someone who doesn't listen?

And what the hell do you do when someone makes an argument (point, etc.) about why X is true-- and you agree, but the other person continues to get more animated as they continue to explain their position on why X is true. And you still agree. You never disagreed. What next?

When I'm writing, I can usually think of some witty line for my character or otherwise manipulate the situation. Furthermore, I have time to think of a line or response or reaction.

Reason number #257 of why writing is better than real life.

  • Novel #2 Progress: (back at it) 18k
  • Query Status: holding at two partials, but now with 6 rejections
  • Current Song: A Man by Alanis Morrisette

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Women's Roles

One of the ideas/themes that's come up more than a few times in the female-lead books I'm reading is women's roles, compared to men.

Some examples:
  • The female lead feels she has to prove herself to be as good, or better than the men she works with.
  • The femal lead feels uncomfortable with being a woman in a man's role.
  • The female lead thinks, repeatedly, about her place in a man's world/role.
  • The female lead compares herself with how the men are doing.
  • The female lead wonders what a man would do in her position.
Now, it should be no surpise that being the atypical woman I am, I have some trouble with these sentiments. I *know* there are women out there who legitamately think and feel these ways.

I just don't understand why.

I have never once thought myself anything but equal to *everyone* in the room. I've never even thought about how I compare to men, even though I often found myself working with mostly men. It never even occurred to me that I was somehow less capable. (Sure, when I started in retail, I couldn't quite lift as much as some of the guys, but I can lift just about as much as any of them now.)

I don't know exactly what factors contributed to my sense of equality, but I am very glad that I have it. I would hate to feel like I had to "prove myself" to anyone. I am as competent and capable as the next person. Male or female.

One thing to note, though, is that I am significantly younger than all but one of the authors of these female-lead books I've beeen reading of late. Maybe this was part of the factor?

As a modern woman, I do think that men and women are equal. No one is better than the other based on gender alone. It's all what we do with ourselves.

I've heard that nothing is sexier than confidence. Hubby likes my confidence (and competence.) What do the rest of you think-- is confidence sexy? Is self-doubt?

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wasted Opportunity

I remember, a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away... that books included advertisements in the front cover or in the last few pages.

I've not seen hardly any of these advertisements in more recent books. The most I often see are for the author's next (or sometimes previous) book. Usually the first chapter or something.

This seems like a missed opportunity for publishers to draw attention to their other authors who may write in a style comparable to the book in hand. Publishers could put a page or two at the back of the book with "If you like this author, try these books/ authors." I know that I'd take note, since I'm always looking for more authors that are like the ones that I really like.

If I opened the next Baby Shark book and saw an advertisement and teaser for another author who writes like Robert Fate or has a character like Baby Shark, I'd totally check that book out. It'd immediately be put on my 'books to read' list.

I prefer to spend my time reading things that I'm going to enjoy, but I have never been able to force myself to abandon even a boring or bad book. It's not easy to find more books that are in the vein I like-- anyone who's seen me hanging out on the internet has surely seen my pleas for more authors who write female protags that are akin to what I'm looking for. But not everyone who reads wants to research the stuffing out of books just to find the ones they like.

But I'm thinking that a reader who gets to the end of a book they enjoyed would take note of authors compared in short ads at the back. I would. Would you?

Monday, August 11, 2008

My Town Monday: Railroads & Growth

In someways, it seems clear that railroads were instrumental in the growth of some towns.

Looking at the towns in Livingston County one can see some interesting differences.

(Here's a map for reference.)

Howell started small, but saw a great deal of growth towards the end of the 1880s. In 1871, a railline was put in that connected Detroit to Howell, then onwards through Fowlerville and Lansing. Around that same time, Howell managed to get a second line running through the town, this one connected Ann Arbor with points North. This line runs pretty much along the same line that I-96 runs.

Howell was and is the biggest town in Livingston County. It has the largest downtown area. And I'm not talking to modern suburban retail shopping land sprawl. I'm talking honest to goodness, old-time downtown area.

Brighton is the second biggest town, and it sits on the same East-West railroute (now the CSX railway) as Howell. From what I can tell, Brighton grew slower. The main rail station and main destination seemed to be Howell. Brighton's growth may have come later when auto travel became more popular and US-23 was built (in one or more forms!), running North/South along Brighton between Saginaw and Ann Arbor.

Hartland was a small village for a very long time. It is not near to any railways-- one would either have to travel to Holly or to Brighton and make their way overland to reach Hartland. Hartland's also not along any rivers. When US-23 was constructed as a limited access highway, the ramps were built north of the town at Clyde Road and south of the town at M-59. The M-59/US-23 junction has been growing with weeds-- I mean, urban retail mall sprawls in recent years, but technically, it's not really the village of Hartland, only part of Hartland Township.

Fowlerville was and is a small town, mostly rural. It seems that it was too far from Lansing for folks, (and WAY too far from Detroit.) The same railline through Brighton and Howell runs along Fowlerville, but it stayed a small town. Still a fair amount of farming up there, but too far from most jobs, I think.

Pinckney and Hamburg have both similarly remained small towns. These two towns were along the now-gone Grand Trunk Western railroad, that ran from Detroit to Jackson. There's some evidence of the Pinckeny/ Hamburg seeing largely recreational travel. People from the cities would come out to Zukey or one of the many lakes. Many, many of the houses that were built along the lake shores are tiny, tiny houses built during the twenties. Perhaps many of them were just summer houses for the people getting out of the cities?

Hamburg had two stations, one for the Grand Trunk Western and one for the Ann Arbor rail, but remained a tiny town near the Huron River. Even now, the down town portion is reached by turning off the main road, M-36 and going around a 90 degree bend.

Today, Hamburg has been growing with suburban development. Pinckney, however, has seen only limited development.

The trains still run, occaisionally. They're no longer any contributing or detracting factor to development. Well, of course the low-income housing is wedged next to the tracks. It's interesting to travel out to Hartland, Highland and points east and notice the distinct lack of railways.

Clearly the lack of railways didn't hinder growth as metro Detroit oozed it's way east. Now, clearly it's the proximity of major highways that helps or hinders growth. But one has to wonder why places like Hamburg never boomed-- it had rails and the Huron River.

Come back in the next couple weeks to find out more about the history of Livingston County's railroads.

Travis Erwin collects the My Town Monday folks in one place.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Jack of All Trades, Master of ?

Of course, the traditional phrase ends 'master of none.' But, being a literalist and an eager, often learner, this perplexes me.

Is it possible to be a master of some trades?

I'm one of those people who, when I set my mind to something, accomplishes what I set out to do. It may nto be an easy, a pretty, or even a timely process, but I achieve my goal. I like conquering challenges-- forget Mt. Everest, but homegrown challenges are fun.

It may have taken three damn times, but I earned my Microsoft Word 2003 Expert Level Certification. (Which is different, and presumably much harder than the Core Certification.) And I went into that test thinking, ah, it'll be a breeze-- I've been using Word real well for a long time. Talk about some serious Microsoft-style Smack-down. But I studied and learned and passed it quite well by the third time.

I have always done quite well in all my school classes-- I prefer A's because they are areodymanic. Doesn't matter the subject. The only issue I've ever run into has been time constraints-- when I was an undergrad, I was working a full time job and taking four classes (12+ credits). I still don't have much of a social life...

When my dining room chairs broke, yeah, I tried getting Dad to fix them. But I guess I grew out of being Daddy's little girl, because them chairs certainly didn't ever move to the front of the line of projects. So, I learned how to fix them myself. With a little help from Dad, and his drill. I need more powertools...

Another example-- writing. I used to write novels to pass the time in high school. I used to swear, insist, and maintain that I could never write short stories. Then, I gave it a shot. Some fifty short stories later, I think I'm comfortable saying that I can write short stories.

Now I've gone back to writing my novels. (I'm certainly a far better writer now than I was before!) My betas have loved the novel so far, which is encouraging. Now, if I can get into the hands of the right agents, who then get it into the hands of the right publishers, I'll find out if I have mastered this trade-- or if I need to learn and work some more at it.

I may not master all trades possible, just the ones I set out to succeed at.

Is the phrase wrong? A simple, overgeneralization that applies to most? Or are we really all just a master of some trades?

What sorts of things have you set out to master?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I Like this Woman

All three of them actually.

Just read Tess Gerritsen's 'The Sinner.' The two female leads, Maura and Rizzoli are good female characters. I'm hoping I'll find them in other books, either together or even seperately.

The case was good, too. Gerritsen's obvious knowledge of the medical field really showed and, for a total nerd like myself, greatly enhanced the story. Two dead nuns, some buried secrets, and some former lovers. It was a compelling story-- with just enough held back, just enough twists carefully paced that I barely got up to use the restroom let alone put the book down.

The relationship drama was the only detraction from this otherwise wonderful book. (See my previous post.) There were certainly some issues where the women were a little too easily distracted by the love lives. It wasn't bad, mind you. I realize that love lives affect the rest of one's life, fiction or otherwise. I thnk, though, that if only Maura's tumultuous relationship was occuring, this book would be even better. Rizzoli's issues were secondary, didn't seem important, and didn't really help define her as a character. In my opinion. But I'm also looking at it through a bias against relationship drama.

The case was good, the pacing was excellent. This one gets three and a half stars. It'd have gotten the full four, I think if there was only one relationship that was going down/up in flames. But still, a good book. Thanks, Ms. Gerritsen. I needed to find this book. =)

Relationship Drama

I'm really not into relationship drama. Luckily, I'm usually spared most of it.

As I've previously stated, in what little I pass of off as a social life, I don't spend a great deal of time around women. Partly because I really can't deal with relationship drama. When I'm around a woman who starts whining about how her man doesn't do this or how he did that-- I guess the socially acceptable response is to commiserate?-- either way, I can't get into it. And I have no interest in listening to a woman who's waffling on whether to stay with this man-- whether she should listen to her heart, her head, or her pussy.

My vote is that head should prevail, but I'm an extremely rational person. To a fault at times. I can understand rational choices far better than emotional or even sexual ones. But relationships, particularly from the female side, seem to be low-- if not lacking-- rationality. I don't expect the characters in a book to stop and think about their relationship. I expect them to continue on, loving and having sex until something brings there relationship to a crashing halt. It builds tension and character, or so I hear.

I understand that when emotions are high, it's hard for people to think. I'm guilty of that myself at times, but once the emotions ebb at all, I retreat to my defult setting to overthink things. As portrayed in fiction, women seem to be incapable of thinking when the man they are loving, struggling with, etc is in the same county. This ruffles my feathers.

Either fiction has overdramatized the relationship dramas that women have, or I'm even farther removed from most women than I thought.

And, I've come to realize that this hyperemotional, irrational sort of female character that populate ficiton (and is made worse by a man she likes/doesn't want to like/ hates is near) is one of the hardest parts of finding good female characters to read.

I can really see why guys would be less inclined to read female protagonists if what I've been finding of late is truly an accurate survey of what lines the shelves in the mystery section. Particularly the hardboilded section.

I don't care for relationship drama in real life and I don't want to read it. I'm hoping I can compromise and find a book with a small amount of relationship drama. In exchange, I'm hoping for a damn good case with a strong, smart female lead. I've got some more library books. Maybe one of them will work out.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

My Town Monday: John Pinckney's Problem

In 1834, John D. Pinckney left his home in New York. He traveled up the Erie Canal to Buffalo, New York, then took a steamer up Lake Erie to Detroit. From there he taveled to Salem, Michigan (southeast of South Lyon, east of Whitmore Lake.) He left his family with his father who lived in Salem, then went on into the wilderness of Livingston County to begin clearing the land he'd purchased and make a home of it.

It kills me to think that this chunk of suburbia was once covered with trees instead of overpriced site-condos and SUVs.

John D. Pinckney's property was on the eastern edge of Howell Township. He was one of the first settlers in the Howell Township area. This area was also where "Livingston Centre" was established as the temporary county seat. His homestead was near the shores of Thompson Lake, "far north" of the Grand River Trail. The Grand River Trail was the only real "road" at the time, though it was certainly more a winding trail between trees than a road as the folks coming from New York would have been used to.

John D. Pinckney's house was pretty typical of the time, a single room log house. The house did not have windows, doors or floor. Blankets covered the window and door holes and a fire would be lit to keep the wolves away. In December of 1834, he brought his family up to live in that house. His family at the time included a wife and two young daughters.

Being in the center of the county, and one of the first folks with a permanent residence in the area, John D. Pinckney was compelled to provide shelter and accommodation to many land seekers. Apparently, his house was the one the increasing number of land seekers were looking for as they made there way to Livingston Centre, and more importantly to the wild lands west and north of Howell Township. According to the 1880 History of Livingston County, Mr. Pinckney was not inclined towards providing these services.

One has to think that a man who would move his family to the middle of, well, nowhere, miles from civilization is probably a bit of a recluse. Which then makes sense that he wouldn't have been too happy with having to house these newcomers who happened across his place on their trek.

The place that travelers realled needed was Amos Adams' tavern house (aka the Eagle Tavern), not far from Mr. Pinckney's house. This tavern initially was the county-seat building.

In 1835, the Eagle Tavern was built, with Pinckney selling some of his land for it. He was kind of pushing for a place for travelers to stay... probably so they'd stop crashing at his one-room place with him, the wife, and the daughters.

In November 1835, two fellows, Edward Brooks and Flavius J. B. Crane, purchased the chunk of land that would be organized into the Village of Howell. They platted the lands and recorded such in Wayne County (where Detroit is.) This prospective village was then given the name Howell, the same as the township that it's in. And thus ended the name Livingston Centre. From then on, it has been Howell. First Village and now city.

Not a very big city, mind you. Nothing taller than three stories. Though, I bet John D. Pinckney wouldn't care for what Livingston Centre turned into. Somedays, I don't either.

NOTE: The answers to last weeks question are in the comments-- click here.

My Town Monday was started by Travis Erwin. Check his place out for more towns.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Morbid Fascination

I admit it. I have this insatiable fascination with old, delapidated, abandoned houses. To the point where I'll grab my camera and drive around looking for them.

There's something sad, forlorn, and intriguing about these old dwellings.

Who lived here?

Where did they go?

Why did they leave this stuff behind?

Why didn't anyone else move into the house? (Before it got into this shape?)

Was it tragedy of a preventable or of an uncontrollable nature (poor financial choices vs. death)?

How did they feel when they left this house?

Was it ever a home? Will it ever be again?

Any one of these could be a piece of a story. They can be setting (including mood since these aren't exactly warm, happy homes anymore.) They can be conflict. Or a character's backstory.

That's the fun of fiction. Taking an idea and spinning it off into something more, something compelling or entertaining. Somedays, I can't write fast enough. Somedays, there are too many ideas spinning around to grab one. (In which case, I usually just surf the internet!)

Which picture would you pick for a tale?

Friday, August 1, 2008

Friday's Forgotten Books

My choice today is "Missing Persons" by Fay Faron. Subtitled "A Writer's Guide to finding the lost, the abducted, and the escaped."

It's one of the Howdunit Series from Writer's Digest Books. And it's one of the best. (Right up there with Lee Lofland's Police Prodecures and Investigations.)

This little non-fiction gem certainly stands out an a shelf of writing reference books with it's bright blue cover. And the contents are good, too.

Inside, real life private investigator, Fay Faron, details the basics of being a private investigator. She does so with her own particular voice, which is amusing. I read this book from front to back like a novel, enjoying the tales Faron offered from her investigating days along with her wit.

She explained a lot of information, and it's almost a shame the book isn't longer because I would have loved it she'd gone on. Since the book was published in 1997, some of the information is dated, but most of it is still relavent. Not to mention, this is one of the most entertaining non-fiction books I ever read.

Though, it's a little spooky how easy it is to find information on a person if the seeker is so inclined.

This is a great book to for starting one's private investigator writings. I would love to see Faron update and expand the book. It's a good book. And a good reference. It actually has a home next to my dictionaries, thesaurasi, and baby names book. Within easy reach when I'm writing.

Check out Patti Abbot's site for more Forgotten Books today.