The Creative Process

“Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.” Oscar Wilde



This loo is for you

Having addressed my literary bona fides this morning, I now feel comfortable blogging about pop-up books.  Call it my guilty pleasure, but I have always had a thing for pop-up books.  Books like 600 Black Spots, A Pop-Up Book for Children of All Ages, by David A. Carter.


I even own a pop-up book about how to make pop-up books, The Elements of Pop-Up by David A. Carter and James Diaz.  So I know a little bit about parallel folds and angle folds, about one-ply and two-ply.


But my favorite pop-up book, without question is The Pop-up Book of Phobias, by Gary Greenberg.  Pick a page.  Any page.

Perhaps you’re afraid of dentists.




Or perhaps (and this is, finally, the purpose of the post) you’re like my friend Mrs. OBL, who is afraid that she will fail to complete her two-item list today, the second item being to post a photo of her toilet on wordpress.


My Literary Bona Fides

As a writer of genre fiction, sometimes I feel the need to “prove” my literary bona fides.  I originally wrote this in 2009, but it remains equally true today.  I realize that some of you have seen this before, but starting a new blog, it seems important to establish my bona fides for new readers.

I was going through stacks of old books yesterday.  Came upon two copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – a 1917 edition and a 1937 edition.  Of course I selected the 1937 edition.  After all, the earlier edition was only complete through 1917.

The best writing for television

It’s easy to make fun of bad writing on television.  The television landscape is littered with bad writing.  But there is also great writing on television.  The Writers’ Guild of America has recently announced its choices for the 101 best written TV series.

The top ten, best-written TV series, according to the Writers’ Guild are

1.  The Sopranos
2.  Seinfeld
3.  The Twilight Zone
4.  All in the Family
5.  M*A*S*H
6.  The Mary Tyler Moore Show
7.  Mad Men
8.  Cheers
9.  The Wire
10. The West Wing

It’s not an unreasonable list, but when I scroll down the rest of the list and I don’t see Northern Exposure until #53, Fawlty Towers until #58 and I Claudius until #76, I realize it’s time to re-draft the list.

So here are the top ten, best written series for TV, according to me.

1.  The Twilight Zone
2.  I Claudius
3.  All in the Family
4.  M*A*S*H
5.  Fawlty Towers
6.  Taxi
7.  Seinfeld
8.  Northern Exposure
9. The West Wing
10. Chicago Hope (the first season, and only the first season)

Here’s a link to the 101 Best Written TV Series

What say ye?

An interview with Cassie O’Malley

I caught up with tabloid reporter and amateur sleuth Cassie O’Malley recently at the Eggery.  The Eggery is nothing special – that is, of course, unless you like your eggs over easy, thick slabs of homemade bread dripping with butter, bacon extra-crispy, home fries extra-spicy, coffee so rich you can smell it from your car.  You see what I mean: nothing special unless you like a waitress who knows when to leave you alone but who appears at your side scant moments before you yourself become aware of your desire.

Between bites of eggs benedict (actually, as a result of a typo on the menu, they were eggs bebedict, but that’s another story entirely), Cassie agreed to answer a few questions.

JM:  You’ve built up something of a cult following with your stories in the Jersey Knews.

CO’M:  Is that a question?

JM:  Let me start again.  Does it surprise you that you’ve become something of an underground sensation?

CO’M:  I can’t say it’s what I set out to write about, but it could be worse.  You know, there will always be people who are interested in stories about space aliens and sea monsters, about psychic spy rings and Siamese triplets.

JM:  What kind of stories did you set out to write?

CO’M:  When I was a student at Princeton, I had it all figured out.  I was going to be an investigative reporter, walking the halls of power in Washington, a force for truth, beauty, and the American way, holding politicians to their promises by the power of my words, exposing the hypocrites and the cheats and becoming rich and famous in the process.

JM:  What happened?

CO’M:  Life happened.  Or more to the point, death happened.

JM:  Death happened?

CO’M:  I married my college sweetheart, and less than a year later, he died in his sleep.  You know, when a man dies in his sleep, we console ourselves with the conventional wisdom that it is a peaceful way to die.  And yet, that quiet winter morning, some few months after relocating to our condo in Doah, snow falling silently on the Pine Barrens, a dog barking in the distance, I rolled over to give Rob a good morning kiss and he was dead, terror frozen permanently in his eyes and in my memory.

JM:  I am sorry.

CO’M:  Even after all these years, sometimes I hate Rob for dying.

JM:  Do you mind if I change the subject?  Recently, you’ve gained some attention for your activities as an amateur sleuth.

CO’M:  Yes.  I have.

JM:  How did that happen?

CO’M:  I was working on a story when I found the first dead body.  I just figured I ought to follow the story to it’s logical conclusion.

JM:  How many dead bodies have you found?  How many cases have you solved?

CO’M:  Three.  You know, I used to watch that TV show, I forget the title, you know, the one with Angela Lansbury and every week in Cabot Cove, she’d find another dead body.  After a while, I wondered why her friends and neighbors didn’t give her a wide berth, ’cause you knew every week one of ’em was going to die.

JM:  And now you’re starting to feel like Angela Lansbury?

CO’M:  Let’s just say, I notice my friends are keeping their distance.

JM:  How do you deal with that?

CO’M:  Tullamore Dew.

JM:  Huh?

CO’M:  Irish whiskey.

JM:  Someone told me you used to have a blog of your own.

CO’M:  I wanted a place to tell people I wasn’t just a character in a book.  That I was a real person.  With hopes, dreams, ambitions.  Disappointments.  That the Cassie O’Malley Mysteries were real stories, my stories.  And that you were just a pseudonym.  My invention.  The fictional author.

JM:  So which is it?

CO’M:  Yes.  Which is it?

Mysteries aren’t supposed to be funny

When my mother first read Who is Killing Doah’s Deer? I could tell that something was troubling her.  Finally, she just had to ask.  “Did you intend it” she asked “to be funny?”

You see, it troubled my mom that I had written a funny mystery.  Mysteries aren’t supposed to be funny, she told me.

I didn’t set out to write a “humorous mystery” in the sense of identifying “humorous mysteries” as the subgenre that I intended to inhabit.  But I did set out to write a mystery that reflected my own worldview, and apparently, some of you find that worldview funny.  (Of course, I’ve read your blogs and, well, to put this gently, some of you are deeply disturbed).

So now I’ve written three humorous mysteries.  And people expect me to be funny when I blog.

That’s a lot to expect of me.  Perhaps this new blog will lower your expectations.