Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Mowing Machine

Brushless shaving cream was a step up from the old straight razor and shaving mug, celebrated with several verses, including:

Soon shaving brushes
Will be trimmin’
Those screwy hats
We see on women.
Burma Shave

But then came the next step: electric razors, and the Burma Vita company was fighting on a new front:

A handsome cheek
All smooth and clean
Is not obtained
With a mowing machine
Burma Shave

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!  The new name of my next mystery novel is Darned If You Do.   The name was suggested by a fan on my Facebook account (hidden among a list of other titles she liked).  My publisher is all cock-a-hoop because nobody else has ever used that as a title.  Titles are not copyright-able, and so they turn up again and again.  I once published an arson-murder novel I called Ashes to Ashes, and I think there were three or four other novels in print at the time with that name, and countless others back-listed.

One problem with the title is that I had to stop writing the story long enough to research darning so I could change a scene where Godwin teaches a young customer to purl to Godwin teaches a young customer to darn a sock.  I haven’t actually tried it, so I hope I have the instructions right.  (Ask me, I’ll send what I’ve written to you so you can vet it.  Thanks!)

My husband and I attended a gun handling class Friday, and the instructor was a retired military/retired deputy sheriff character so profane and masculine I almost came away with testosterone poisoning.  Oddly enough, I also found him funny and attractive, and I’m going to interview him about some of the darker aspects of law enforcement and perhaps create a character for my books like him.  I’ll have to lighten him up some and launder his language, but it’ll be fun to see him in print.  I’m sure all writers come across strong personalities they shade and mold a bit to fit what genre they’re writing.  In a creative writing class I took many years ago, the instructor gave us a print of a Norman Rockwell painting of a cute runaway boy talking to a policeman who had bought him an ice cream cone.  We were to write a short story based on the painting.  I kept the cop a nice guy, but made the little boy a budding Nazi trying to get away from his sweet parents.  See?  Shading and molding!  LOL

Somebody described our weather as “bipolar,” an excellent description of a week that went from twelve below to fifty-four above


Linda O. Johnston said...

Yes, it's definitely fun to incorporate characters we love--or hate--into stories, Monica, as long as we do shade and mold and make them different enough that they won't recognize themselves!

Monica Ferris said...

Normally, I have to do some molding to make them fit the circumstances of the story. I also ask people I know if it's okay to put them into a book - and I know I'm not the only writer who has had friends and acquaintances ask if they can be in a book. *Murder at the War* was full of real people, all of whom signed a release, even the one I warned was going to be kind of a jerk. He seemed to be satisfied with the result.

Betty Hechtman said...

Great title. And even better that it hasn't been used.