Books are the gateway to imagination

Books are the gateway to imagination
Morgan welcomes you to her personal blog

Sunday, July 17, 2011


Well, the worst has just about passed, and early Monday morning the Carmageddon panic will have subsided. Just to be safe, I scheduled my time in Las Vegas to avoid it, but how would it have affected me if I stayed?

Since I didn't have commitments in the Valley for work or entertainment, at the worst I would have been confined to my side of the hill. Not so bad. Marina Del Rey isn't such an awful place to be with its beaches, cafes, entertainment venues and more. It might have been rough to venture downtown, but then I really didn't have a compelling reason to go there. Many events were rescheduled in view of the impending closure which lightened the traffic load for those who had to traverse the Santa Susana mountains.

Okay, call me chicken for fleeing town, but actually being in Las Vegas was a bonus. I was able to drop by the Public Safety Writers Association conference yesterday and join them for lunch.

It was fun seeing many of the people I met last year, and even though I couldn't stay because of other commitments, I was glad I went. In the process, I donated a copy of my new upcoming book, Writers' Tricks of the Trade: 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing Fiction as one of their drawing prizes. I'll mail an autographed copy to the winner when it is released.

Back to Carmageddon. As with similar concerns when the Olympics were held in L.A., the traffic many thought would be a nightmare was much lighter than normal. According to the news---yes, it made the Las Vegas news--- as Los Angeles entered the second day in the shutdown of the 10-mile (16-kilometer) stretch of Interstate 405 — one of the country's busiest highways, work was so far ahead of schedule this morning that officials were planning to reopen the freeway later in the day.

They were elated that the public appeared to get the message to avoid "Carmageddon" by staying off the roads, though some were concerned the lack of gridlock would make drivers complacent and spur them to return to the road before Monday's scheduled reopening.

Isn't it amazing what efficiency is possible with some cooperation and a threat of a $72,000 penalty for every hour the repair work lagged behind schedule?

Special note to Congress - Hey guys---This is what working together means! Quit jockeying for political position and work out the current debt ceiling crisis instead. This isn't about how it will play in 2012 or which party will prevail. It is about addressing the impending Government shutdown as the intelligent lawmakers we hoped we elected.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why the premise of Larry Crowne doesn't grab me

I spent some time trying to figure out what would motivate me to want to see the latest from Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. I like both of them as actors and it's always refreshing to see a good comedy. However, the operative word is GOOD.

I'd seen so many promos for Larry Crowne before all of the disasterous reviews began to rain down in buckets that I could probably repeat the trailers and ads word-for-word. At this point I have to say the opening of the trailer turned me off immediately.

Hanks' character is a valued employee for nine years. Heck, he snags the employee award every one of those years. Then he's fired because he doesn't have a college degree? It just doesn't make sense. I can see something happening that gets him fired, but if he was so valued would the company make no effort whatsoever to keep him on board? What does this say? That someone who is excellent at their job doesn't deserve to keep it without having the academic endorsement?

And the bit with the scooter. How has he been getting to work for all of those nine years? Does he not have two nickles to rub together and no credit whatsoever and therefore is forced to ride a garage sale scooter? Sorry, it doesn't fly for me.

Now if he had labored at the same job for nine years, giving it his all, and he is finally fed up with earning chicken feed while the bosses get fat, that might be a beginning. Maybe this honest guy suddenly isn't so honest, gets caught and gets fired. Now he's out in the cruel world, and that world has changed in the last nine years. He's been living it to the max with credit card payments and car payments he can no longer hack. The car is repossessed, he moves into a tiny apartment and realizes he has to get more education to land a job. The story unfolds from there.

That is an example of a scenario I could believe. Many people are tempted to go to the "sort of dark side." Of those that do, many get caught and pay the consequences. It could be funny, and it is only one possibility for a story line.

I guess I wasn't the only one who felt that way judging by the dismal boxoffice reports. What a shame to waste talent like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts on something like this. I might watch it when it gets to DVD just to see what happens after the contrived opening, but I can't see myself shelling out up to $12 dollars to see it.

On the other hand, take something like Midnight in Paris, Woody Allen's latest. Brilliant writing, brilliant acting, totally entertaining. I'd rather pay the same $12 to see that movie a second time.

Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Have a great weekend.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

There is more to it than meets the eye!

It is a definite given that our country is in a slump. Unemployment is high and in a totally normal reaction we search for the cause and solution.

Well, there are some obvious givens and politicians on both sides add their spin so they can justify pointing the finger at the other side. That's also normal--nothing more than business as usual. Let's face it, we've been through two wars, corporate bailouts of a proportion that no one would ever have imagined, both sides of congress at odds with each other resulting in a stalemate, i.e., absolutely nothing gets done quickly or without lots of yelling, accusations and logjams. We have elections on the horizon so it appears the main agenda is to make sure the other guy doesn't get elected.

Somewhere along the line I thought Congress was supposed to support the good of the people, but that seems to be nothing more than a pipe dream. Fat cats are getting fatter, the "thin cats" are on forced diets and the normal sized ones--what used to be the backbone of America--are present in smaller and smaller numbers every day.

So, with all of that said, here's what hit me like a sledge hammer on Sunday. Sure, we have sent so many of our technical and manufacturing jobs to emerging or thriving nations while ours wallows in unemployment, but there is another factor no other president had to contend with to the degree it is present today. No other generation was faced with this. Think Industrial Revolution, then hype it so many times you'll lose count. The name of the other culprit is AUTOMATION.

On Sunday we drove to The Grove shopping mall and took our ticket from the machine. A real person used to be in the booth. We checked out automatically, too. Many times when we go to the movies we get our ticket online to speed things up and make sure we have a seat. High school kids used to depend upon jobs in the movies to earn expenses. Not now. Most of it is automated.

We went to the grocery store where the scan lines were busy. Less checker's jobs. We made it a point not to use the scan, but waited for the person who was hanging onto their job. Then we filled up at the gas station and inserted a credit card. How many remember the days when gas stations actually had attendants who checked your oil and washed your windshield?

The list just goes on and on. Try to make a list of all the jobs that have been lost that will never come back. Sure we still need people to do the new customer service functions, programming, and all the other things attendant to commerce, but most of them are no longer in the U.S. Once you count the jobs that are now done electronically and multiply that by the number of stores or services across the entire country that replaced real people, it becomes scary. When you only look at one automatic checkstand, for example, it doesn't seem like that much, but what about putting that into the context of over 200,000 supermarkets in the United States. The picture looks a lot different. The big question, of course, is how do we retrain people for jobs that we can then keep in our own country?

Everything we see daily in the news is of great concern, but it is only part of the problem.

Friday, July 1, 2011


How strange is this? I had to go through the galley of the Writers' Tricks of the Trade book so many times in a quest to find even the smallest errors, that  I discovered yesterday I'd actually learned from it. What a concept~learning from your own book.

Yep. It is true. I'm happy to say that I  think the galley is now error-free - hallelujah -  of course if Murphy's Law kicks in, the minute it's in print some obscure error will suddenly become as brilliant as the marquee on a theater. I'll deal with it if it happens.

Anyway, I'm back to working on the new Silver Sisters Mystery Diamonds in the Dumpster and my "coming of age at 42" book Confessions of a Cougar.

I got to thinking about how I started my writing career with how-to articles and in writing the book I've come full circle. I must say I loved the luxury of being able to take the time to tightly edit and add to the content of many of my columns in creating the 39 Things You Need to Know About the ABCs of Writing Fiction. I truly appreciated the ability to present sometimes complex concepts in simple, entertaining language.

So now let me tell you how I realized I learned in the process. Phyllice and I plotted the entire story of Diamonds in the Dumpster while I was in Oregon last month, and I was only waiting to finish the Tricks of the Trade project to begin writing. I'd sent her the preliminary Chapter 1 and she felt that should be Chapter 2 so she wrote a new introductory Chapter 1. I love her style and humor when she writes, but as I was reading back through the new Chapter 1 and the now Chapter 2, some of the "things" I'd been reading ad infinium in my book invaded my thoughts.

I found myself picking up slight glitches or faux pas that would have slid past before. I don't know if was my brilliant style (LOL) or if repeated reading drummed it into my already crammed brain, but were those little things that could be improved or occasionally deleted, daring me to fix them.

I'm having lots of fun with writing Diamonds in the Dumpster. It's always fun to write about my favorite twins and their feisty 80 year old mother and uncle. This time since the oldsters have a much bigger role, it is particularly fun to invade their heads and thought processes.

All that is left now for Writers' Tricks of the Trade to go to publication  is for the rest of the blurbs to come in and the final cover design. This is exciting. More to come.