Rest in peace, Gandalf

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Gandalf died in his sleep today. My heart is broken.

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Sometimes it Pays to be a Bitch

After a couple of emails, a Facebook post on the company’s page, and an extremely bad online review courtesy of yours truly, the offending medical corporation called me this morning and had me bring my son to a doctor at a different office without delay.

He’ll be in a rather large boot for at least four weeks.

The lesson? Never let people push you around. Go over everybody’s head. Get angry. Get loud. Don’t worry about their opinion of you.

Some battles are worth it.

One Day My Rage Will Kill Me

Last Friday, my younger son was injured at work. He dropped a pallet on his foot, fracturing his big toe in three places.

His job sent him to the local Con***tra clinic (name obscured to prevent incompetent corporation with lots of lawyers from suing broke medical transcriptionist), where the x-ray was done. He came home with no cast or boot and no crutches. Just antibiotics and ibuprofen.  They scheduled him to see an orthopedist NINE DAYS LATER. I made him call Con***tra today and ask for an earlier appointment, but they said it was the best they could do.

Now, I don’t have a college education like the physician’s assistant from India who saw my son at the clinic (Yes, I’m mocking foreign-trained medical personnel. Get over it. They suck.), but I think three fractures in the weight-bearing toe deserve a cast or a boot, don’t you? Maybe a pair of crutches to get around on? And if the flunky on call can’t see him until the middle of next week, shouldn’t he be sent to an emergency room instead?

My son is not a minor, so I wasn’t allowed to speak to the PA personally.  I have some very choice words for this incompetent little twerp and even more for said twerp’s employer, but I’m not allowed to say them.  My son has been left with his injuries untreated, injuries that will be nearly two weeks old by the time he sees a doctor. He has no private insurance. We have no money to give him for a real doctor. What if the untreated injuries get worse?

Blind rage. That’s what I feel.

Maybe it’s just a mom thing.

Hey! That’s writing, too!

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With the exception of Sherlock Holmes, I’ve never been a big fan of mysteries. I prefer to watch them, rather than read them. I love the late Jeremy Brett’s version of Sherlock and was instantly hooked by Benedict  Cumberbatch’s modern version.

I have to stop here for a second and say that “Benedict Cumberbatch” is the most wonderful name I’ve ever heard. It just screams to be the name of a character in a children’s book.

How I managed to write a mystery for children is, well, a mystery.  It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to write, and I had no training for it.  Somehow, I pulled it off.  Now that I’m working on a sequel, I realize how little I know about the genre.

I went on the internet and Googled a couple of articles about writing mysteries.  Adult mysteries almost always seem to involve a corpse, so I have to adapt the advice to my target audience.  All in all, I didn’t do a bad job with the first story.  I managed to hit on most of the plot points necessary for a mystery.  Still, I recognize that I have mystery storytelling shortcomings to deal with.

So what’s a writer with no money and very little time to do? I picked up a couple of Raymond Chandler’s Phillip Marlowe mysteries.  Chandler had a way with words and unique phrases that forever defined the hard-boiled detective character.  I’m not terribly impressed by his plots, though.  Not much to see there.  With Sherlock Holmes, the mysteries are also pretty simple.  In fact, to my eye, none of the mysteries I’ve been watching and reading have been very mysterious at all.  The most entertaining part about them is the lead detective character.

A big favorite among mystery writers is the “fish out of water” or “accidental” detective.  These characters seem to be primarily older females with no police training at all.  A few do seem to be mystery writers, however.  Lately, I’ve been watching “Murder, She Wrote” on TV.  It ran on American TV for years and starred Angela Lansbury as Jessica Fletcher, a mystery writer who can’t walk three feet without stumbling upon a dead body.  Honestly, if I were her friend or relative, I’d steer clear of her.  People around her tend to end up dead or accused of murder.  But Jessica is always there to help the clueless local police find the real culprit.  I am learning a few things, though.  Red herrings, subtle clues, multiple suspects and motives, etc.

Everything I’m learning right now is helping my story.  I’ve accumulated quite a few pages of notes about possible plot twists, characters, and settings. I’m not ready to sit down and get to the “once upon a time” part of getting the actual story on paper, but everything I’m doing now is a part of the writing.  The trick is not to let the research become a substitute for the storytelling.