Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ma's Crime Scene


Writers are often asked where they get their ideas. This puzzles most writers, because the problem is not coming up with ideas; the problem is finding the time to turn them all into stories.

Harlan Ellison, when asked the question, famously answered:
There's a swell Idea Service in Schenectady; and every week I send 'em twenty-five bucks; and every week they send me a fresh six-pack of ideas.

Of course, there is no such service. Ellison was responding to the absurdity (for him) of the question. Ideas are all around us. What you have to do is notice them.

The idea for my African Violet Club mysteries started percolating years ago. Periodically I’ve grown African violets, sometimes with more enthusiasm than others. While relatively easy to grow, you do have to pay attention to how much water to give them, when to fertilize (and how much), and placing them in a spot where they’ll get sufficient—but not too much—light. Growing show-worthy plants requires a whole different level of expertise. But they’re so pretty, and there’s nothing like an African violet in bloom to brighten a dreary winter day.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Living in an ADHD World


Our whole society seems to have Attention Deficit Disorder. People can’t just focus on one thing at a time. Live-tweeting by cast members and fans while a television show is airing has become a “thing.” You go out to dinner, and people prop up their cell phones on the table, paying more attention to text messages and tweets and Facebook than the people they’re sharing a meal with. If you question them, they say they’re “multitasking.”

I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but there’s really no such thing as multitasking. The brain can only focus on one thing at a time. What people call multitasking is actually switching between one thing and another thing, sometimes as many as four or five things, in succession, not doing several things simultaneously.