Archy on planning ahead (Don Marquis reference)

(Via houseboatonstyx and karinmollberg)

i met a toad
the other day by the name
of warty bliggens
he was sitting under
a toadstool
feeling contented
he explained that when the cosmos
was created
that toadstool was especially
planned for his personal
shelter from sun and rain
thought out and prepared
for him

do not tell me
said warty bliggens
that there is not a purpose
in the universe
the thought is blasphemy
a little more
conversation revealed
that warty bliggens
considers himself to be
the center of the same
the earth exists
to grow toadstools for him
to sit under
the sun to give him light
by day and the moon
and wheeling constellations
to make beautiful
the night for the sake of
warty bliggens

to what act of yours
do you impute
this interest on the part
of the creator
of the universe
i asked him
why is it that you
are so greatly favored

ask rather
said warty bliggens
what the universe
has done to deserve me
if i were a
human being i would
not laugh
too complacently
at poor warty bliggens
for similar
have only too often
lodged in the crinkles
of the human cerebrum


(Don Marquis, writing as Archy the cockroach who could type on an old Underwood)

"Man is a marvellous toad."
"Yeah, and I don't even EAT flies."

Thanks for the inspiration today!

Which is more frightening . . . rejection or acceptance?

On our writers' mailing list* yesterday, one of my colleagues wrote:

"Here I sit, >this< close to published and I'm terrified. What if everyone else thinks it sucks? What if they don't? What if--?

Is this a normal way to feel at this point?"

I think so.

Frankly, one reason that I adopted the 'net name, sysop-ette name, and pen name "Shalanna Collins" (made from aunt Sheila, aunt LanaBelle, and family name on Mama's side Collins) MANY years ago was so that "Shalanna" would take the heat and anger that a woman on the 'net who put her writing out there was definitely going to garner. I never have liked my birth name (the kids did a lot with "Denise" that went further than "DeNephew" and in odd ways), and my last name from Daddy was too hard to spell and pronounce, so I knew I would need a pen name. It insulated me from the hate.

So they said Shalanna was a loudmouthed be-yotch who thought she knew it all? Well, that wasn't ME, and I didn't have to have palpitations, chills, and the sweats over the thought that hate and anger were pointed at me. So what if they hated Shalanna's prose? It could be fixed. The fragile inner child of ME could say, "They aimed that at her, not at me."**

So possibly a pen name is a good thing for some of us.

If, however, you want to publish under your legal driver's license name, that's fine. You just have to know that there WILL be haters. There WILL be people who, just for fun, just to see if they can get a rise out of you, will write bad reviews or poke at you on FB or wherever they can. They get their jollies this way. You have to rise above it. You have to let that initial rush of self-hate, anger, wildness, and so forth just crash over you in waves, and then calm yourself down. What does it matter? It's just the Internet. In 200 years, who will remember or give a hoot? The art is what matters. It stands the test of time. These people fall away and go to dust. The art does not. You and the art ascend into Heaven and are written in the Book of Life and in earthly history. So there! Take that, dust!!

Now, I think I am a special case, way out there, because all my life, all through school, people who were not my immediate family were blown away because I had mastered the mechanics of spelling, then of punctuation, then of grammar, then of style/diction, and had developed a distinctive voice that I can't hide. I tried having sockpuppets LONG LONG AGO on other online venues, but it never worked, as someone would come along and say, "Shalanna, that is you." (heh) I have a writing voice, and in addition each of my books has a somewhat distinctive voice because the character (or its originating archetype) has a voice of her/his own, but you can usually tell I wrote whatever it is. That's partly because I do not buy into the workshoppers' and minimalists' "rules," and in this sense I'm kind of like the UK and Australian writers who still have strong voices and haven't been damped down to the faux-Hemingway level. (And it IS faux. These people have apparently never READ Papa. Never read _A Moveable Feast,_ definitely. And God forbid they ever run across Henry Miller!!)

So I've always BELIEVED. What the teachers said, what the workshop leaders said, the remarks of contest judges, the encouragements of all the agents who ultimately didn't take me on but who said they loved my voice and were sure someone else would pick up my work posthaste . . . I believed it all. I still do. I still think my work is good and will find an audience. But not everyone likes every book. If your book does not ever reach those people who will love it, it's not going to get that word of mouth and it'll remain obscure. No matter how great it is.

All of this means that there WILL be people who just DO NOT GET IT. They are honest. They really ARE bemused. Why WOULD anyone ever use the words "numinous" or "exegesis" when some dumber word that doesn't mean quite the same thing (but that they may already know) would "do"? Never mind Mark Twain (pen name of Samuel Clemens, for similar reasons to many of ours!) and the lightning/lightning bug analogy. What is going on with these metaphors, these classical and pop cultural allusions, these passages that contain subtext and are nuanced? They want simple, direct, easy to read. Period. And they shake their heads in true confusion. My work does not fit into the bestseller mainstream. So why wouldn't I want to change it to fit?

I can't explain it to those people. I merely have to listen to the little voice that says, "Only Believe." The little flame inside that says, "The work is good. Never mind them." The knowledge that I will fulfill my mission in life, even if that mission doesn't seem useful to most of the others.

That is what you must keep as your vision, fellow striver. If they say bad things . . . if they don't like the book . . . if it takes a long time to find its audience . . . so be it (as Christian Slater's "Pump Up the Volume" dude said). This makes no difference because it doesn't have anything to do with the work's true quality and value. It's just the way it is. If the book actually IS bad (and it isn't!), it's still better than other bad books because it has YOUR voice and is a tour of YOUR mind and doesn't have silly howlers ("As a policeman, the criminal doesn't respect me.") It was not just dashed off like so many of the dollar Kindle books that make me roll my eyes ("and then make me grit my teeth"!) It is a work of art. Always remember that.

Art does not match the sofa!

Be strong. They're going to ignore you, mock you, or whatever. It happens to everyone. (Look at Joanne Rowling and her mystery career.) You can't let it deter you from your mission.

When you finally hold the published hardcopy in your hands--it'll be worth all the effort!

FOOTNOTES (who writes a post with footnotes?!)

* To join our mailing list and benefit from the craziness, leave a comment and I'll tell you where to send the blank e-mail.

**After all these years--since around 1984 on my own BBS and on CompuServe--"Shalanna" is now me, and it no longer shields me. Hubby first met me on my BBS and knew me only as "Shalanna." Many people call me Shalanna/Denise interchangeably. I may pick up a new pen name for edgy stuff, though, someday. Everyone needs a suit of armor.
snoopy happydance

An embarrassment of riches--interview and review!

A new interview with me is up this morning on the Dames of Dialogue site!

Dames of Dialogue!

Come see what I blathered about and leave a comment. There's always the chance that I said something interesting! (LOL)

Also, another surprise today! Reviewer Kevin Tipple of SENIOR NEWS talks about MURDER BY THE MARFA LIGHTS today on his review blog. C'mon over and see what he thought!


I've even left the first comment to get people started. I like what I came up with about Ari's life being not a rollercoaster ride but more of a "dark ride" like the old Spelunker's Cave at Six Flags used to be--blind turns, murky, weird visions, a sudden lightning/thunder storm, rolling in a barrel, insights coming out of strangeness. This is definitely not an action thriller, and I wouldn't want to disappoint readers. Fans of Vince Flynn and James Patterson would throw it across the room. But if you like character-driven stories with more depth, or you are a fan of Diane Mott Davidson, Donna Andrews, Judith Van Gieson, or Gillian Roberts, you might like this one.

But you already knew that!
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GlassesGirl, DorothyParker

Come see me (us) at Firewheel Barnes & Noble tonight!

Heads up! I will be speaking at the Mystery Book Club at the Firewheel Mall(Garland/Rowlett) Barnes and Noble tonight, Wednesday, June 12, at 7 PM about my books, the state of publishing, mystery novels, and general philosophy. If you're in the area, feel free to drop by! We'll be in a circle somewhere in the middle of the (huge) store. I'll also have promo materials to give out free and a few copies of my books for those who are REALLY interested in getting one, heh. I will force them on the others. Also, my mother will be attending with me. Watch for the lady in the leopard shirt using the red walker!

If you're coming for sure, let me know by email or via commenting here so that I can bring you a lollipop. (Also so that I can tell them there might be an extra person or two.)

Hobbes Writes

Our Goals as Readers/Writers

Reading Mary Montague Sikes' latest blog entry, "What Are Our Goals as Writers?" made me think about what my goals actually are, versus what most people think they are or should be. (LOL)

First, I want to talk about our goals as writers.

She mentions winning writing contests. Well, I've done that. I can do that. I won the Golden Rose award a couple of years ago with APRIL, MAYBE JUNE. (Their award is an actual gold-plated rose. My mother went crazy over it, and I put it on one of her bookshelves to be admired. It didn't come with a publishing contract or make anyone interested in the book, though.) I won prizes in the Robert Benchley essay contest a couple of times. (This year, they haven't yet announced the contest. ???) The way I got into Oak Tree Press was via winning the Dark Oak Mystery contest and getting NICE WORK published in 2011.

But I've noticed that contest winners aren't much appreciated. The St. Martin's Press contest would seem to be a major big deal, and you'd think winning one of their contests and publication would be a coup. However, I don't really see sales going big for those who win the contest, not since Donna Andrews was discovered (her books are that perfect blend of over-the-top funny and believable.) One recent winner has gone off to publish newer books with small presses, saying that she has more freedom there. I don't know whether winning an award of any kind does anything for your career. Getting your book made into a film or TV show, on the other hand . . . yes.

She also mentions financial success. That has always eluded me. I haven't made it a major goal, though. As I see it, those who attain financial success are usually the people who can schmooze and sell. If you are a born salesman, you can sell yourself, and the people will want your product. This sort of thing has never been my strength. I haven't had to rely on my writing to make a living so far, which is definitely a good thing.

What about readers? What are our goals as readers?

For many readers nowadays, it's ALL ABOUT PLOT. They don't mind wading through clunky prose (they have no ear for it, or don't care one way or the other? Don't know which) and aren't bothered by stereotypical flat characters. They're reading for WHAT HAPPENS, and if things aren't happening fast enough for them, the book hits the wall and they grab another (so many free downloads out there, why bother to push through all that thinking or feeling?) They were weaned on action movies, and they want to see things blow up and see people make snap decisions, whether or not the decisions are wrong.

But that's not STORY. Teresa Nielsen Hayden once said, "Plot is what happens, but story is a force of nature." I believe people need/use story to make sense of life, to understand what life wants from them and what they want from life. A story is a promise to the reader that they're going to learn something or have some sort of insight as a result of reading it. Otherwise, they close the book and say, "So what? What was all of that FOR?" They "got nothing out of it." It was "a waste of time that they can't get back." This is not what we're aiming for, I'm sure.

Story has always been a means of transmitting the culture down to the next generation(s). The Bible, Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens--the Great Books, if you will--have passed along the great ideas of Western culture over the centuries. A great story should give you some new insight into the human condition. It shouldn't feel hollow when you finish, as though you were waiting for the author to make his or her point but never got anything. You can write solely for entertainment and still have a point . . . I'm not saying that everything has to be Ponderous and Meaningful. But most people want to feel they've learned something from your book, if only that the Kelvin temperature scale goes down to absolute zero or that 73 is the perfect number (because it means "Best regards" to hams!)

It seems that the popular kids have decided they're going to write books. They never wanted to do this before, but now that it's a matter of typing into a word processor rather than feeding endless pages into a typewriter, they want to. EVERYONE is writing a book and putting it on the Kindle or going with a self-publishing deal. Writing books was always uncool before. It's kind of nice for it to be The Latest Thing, but I suspect that these same people tried to be rock stars and found they couldn't sing even WITH AutoTune, and turned to writing because they wrote in journals all through school and figured, "How hard could it be?" Some newcomers to writing are natural writers, of course, but I suspect that some just fell into it and have had lots of luck (and lots of friends who like them and therefore read their books). There are more books being published every minute these days than there were every YEAR in past decades. Lots of choices--good. Lots of slush--check. (LOL) Many books that leave you feeling hollow, as though "is that all there is?" were the question.

So why DO we bother to write books, when there is so much else out there that our stuff probably will come and go without being noticed?

My purpose in writing stories has always been to be heard--to reach those I would never otherwise reach with my voice or during my lifetime. I have always hoped that my book would be sitting on a shelf (or waiting for a download, wink) when someone who needs its message/philosophy/theme right then comes along and picks it up or downloads it to read. This person may be younger or older, in the future or in the present, but whoever the person is, he or she needs to hear what I have to say with this book, needs to be entertained with witty banter, needs to commiserate with the dilemmas and celebrate the happinesses of my characters. This person can experience vicariously a hot-air balloon ride, hear about someone's fairy godfather, work on perfecting the Schubert Moments Musical, and do whatever my characters do . . . it's a tour of my mind in my voice that no one else can give them, and I like to think it can enrich their lives and make them happy for a moment and then for several moments as they think on these issues and ideas I have brought to them.

That has always been my goal, and that is why I often resist making my books into action movie screenplays. I like to leave in the parts that made the books I have loved throughout my life into "keepers." I haven't thought much about temporal success, although my family and friends are quite fixated on the dollar; I do know that money is the way most people keep score, and the way they judge your work's quality, at least initially, so I guess I should at least TRY to do a popular book so my other books can have a chance at being checked out.

What if no one were keeping score? (Grin) If I serve art (Art) (whatever), that should be enough (but it probably isn't.)

So what are your goals? What is your purpose in writing stories?

How Science REALLY Works

I may have mentioned that one of our neighbors went to be with the Lord (crossed the bar) (crossed to the other side of the Veil) (went to the Summerlands) (not trying to be flippant, just trying to get the idea across in non-offensive religious terms) a couple of weeks ago. My mother has been quite distraught, as the lady has been a neighbor of ours for years and years. I ended up baby-sitting for two of the neighbor's granddaughters several times over the course of the fortnight so as to allow her daughters to take care of business and grown-up stuff. Well, they're not babies any more--they're nine and seven, and QUITE sophisticated for their age.

Maybe that's how sophisticated kids of that age are now. WE certainly didn't know (at that tender age) the stuff THEY know about. I think they taught ME a couple of interesting tidbits about life in the post-postmodern world, unchained as it is.

So! One evening, they informed me that they were ALWAYS allowed to watch the "Big Bang Theory." I am still a bit doubtful about that, but they quoted back much of the show's backstory to me, so maybe it's true. I didn't think the show's occasional naughty language and sexual situations would perturb them, after what they'd been telling me all week (eep). At any rate, we all sat down for dinner (macaroni-hamburger scramble and a very non-diabetes-friendly casserole, which we all participated in making, even my mother) and a rerun of the Bob Newhart episode of the series.

In case you are not a devoted fan of Sheldon Cooper, Leonard, and Penny (I like the others, but not as much as these, as I identify with each of them to some extent), I'll tell you that in this episode, the great Bob Newhart plays a has-been "Mr. Wizard" television star who now does kids' parties. He is invited to Sheldon's place to give his show to the grown-up scientists. The ubiquitous science fair demonstration comes up: the potato clock.

Of course, they play it for laughs. "Is it a trick potato?!" Penny shrieks. "What makes it go?"

They never cover the real explanation in the episode, but when the show ended, I asked the girls, "Do you know about the potato clock? How do you think it works?"

The elder girl said, "The potato has potential energy that is conducted through the wires."

I was taken aback. We certainly didn't know about the concept of potential energy when I was in third grade. This is a dang good guess, in MY opinion.

The younger one said, "The potato has life-force and that's why when you eat it, it gives you energy that comes from that life-force. The life-force flows down the wires before it goes back into the potato. So that's what causes the clock to run."

After I picked my chin up from the floor, I said, "That is a really cool explanation." I didn't dare probe further, for fear we'd get into a discussion of Jedi knighthood, which I'm not too clear about.

After clearing the table, I let them get on my computer to Google up the "real" answer. I had sort of forgotten exactly how science explains it (I was thinking in terms of electron flow myself, but VERY hazily. It's actually a chemical reaction because of the coating on the nails that are used.) The real explanation is not nearly as good as the one about life-force. I think from now on I will adopt the life-force explanation.

Are these kids today little Einsteins, or what?!

(They can still enjoy a rollicking game of "Mouse Trap," though.)

Trivia game junkie--need to delete the craving

Since my husband got the tablet computer, I've been playing "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader?" and have reached a fairly high level. However, I've been upset by the WRONG answers that they are approving as correct (and rejecting the correct answer that's right there on the screen.)

Last night they asked which US President was the youngest when he took office. Teddy Roosevelt. I know this because when I was in fifth grade, I was in one of those pull-out groups who got to do special projects instead of the grunt work and worksheets all the time, and we did a study of the presidents. John Kennedy is the SECOND-youngest, although everyone thinks he must have been the youngest, for some reason.

(Although John F. Kennedy was the youngest President ever ELECTED to office, aged 43, Theodore Roosevelt was the youngest to ever take the office. At the age of 42, he assumed the Presidency after the death of William McKinley.)

The people who programmed/loaded that game think so, too. They marked Roosevelt wrong and said Kennedy is correct.

That irked me.

A few questions later, they asked a question that was intriguing and probably doesn't have a pat answer. "What is the opposite of OR?" The choices included AND, NOR, MAYBE, and YET. Well, I would say that since OR is a choice between A and B and AND means BOTH A and B, AND is the opposite or OR. They marked that wrong and claimed it is NOR. Well, I can see the faulty logic they're using, but I claim that NOR would be the opposite of AND. AND means both, and NOR means neither ("not this one, either"), so I don't think NOR could be the "opposite" of OR in any sense. "Neither rain, nor snow, nor sleet, nor dark of night shall keep this courier from his appointed rounds." "Rain, snow, sleet, and dark of night deterred us from trick-or-treating." "Neither A nor B." "Both A and B."

That one takes a little thinkin' and canoodlin'. It really takes more time to argue it out than the fifteen seconds that they allow for a tap on the screen to choose an answer.

You get to play up to four games in one sitting before your points run out and you have to wait for more points to come along (I'm not about to BUY points), so this isn't a major time-waster. I generally play it if I'm waiting for something else and just sitting there idle. Still, it's a time-waster, and I need to be practicing those Schubert Moments Musical.

(The biggest obstacle to piano practice is that "it drowns out the TV" and the family cannot bear THAT . . . also, my mother always finds some reason that I MUST come in there and wait on her just as I'm finishing up a few measures. I am not a potential contest winner or concert artist, mind; I play to feed my soul. It goes hungry much of the time because I live among the typical TV-adoring Philistines. I'm not a fan of digital crap and plastic keyboards, either--the feedback from the baby grand is a must. No, those things do NOT sound like a baby grand. Play Bach's first "little" prelude, in which you hold down the C octave below middle C while playing arpeggios, and you'll hear the constant changing of harmonies as the various strings are stimulated by the others and it rings inside the piano. This does not happen with the keyboards, even though they can make a passable "koto" sound if that's what you want.)

I miss that NTN trivia game they used to have at Friday's. Our Friday's doesn't have it any more, alas.

Probably just as well.

Yes! I am still here!

Wondering where I've been? I've been completely snowed under with the planning, execution, and aftermath of our charity book signing and author salon here in Dallas at the beautiful Lucky Dog Books location in Lochwood on Garland Road. Whew! I am just now getting some energy back! (It really takes it out of you to have a sinus infection, be on drugs for that and for diabetes as well, and do all the hauling and planning for an event. I never dreamed it was so complex. I think I'll start being a party/event planner, but I'll have to charge $500/hour.)

Go look at all the pics over on my official author blog at http://deniseweeks.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-signing.html.

In other news . . . so much drama in "real life" this week. Too tired to type it all in. But I'll do it as soon as I can. Tidbit: I might have my own Internet radio show soon. It will be all-purpose, including radio plays and readings and live piano playing by yours truly, but the tentative show name is "Super Roper Redneck Revue." Possibly will not be permanent name. Also, it is FREEZING and the wind is blowing wildly. Could we not install "SPRING" to replace "WINTER"?
GlassesGirl, DorothyParker


SUNDAY, APRIL 28 from 1-4 PM in Dallas, Texas: Charity Book Signing!

Ever doubted my supernatural powers? Well, doubt no more. I've enticed several best-selling authors to Dallas and we're all doing a signing--for charity!

Jenny Milchman, author of the suspense novel COVER OF SNOW (recently released by Ballantine Books in hardcover), will be in Dallas on Sunday, April 28, and will hold a book signing from 1 to 3 PM with me (Denise Weeks AND Shalanna Collins--you know, like Athena is also Minerva), Janis Susan May Patterson, Kevin Tipple, and Earl Staggs at the Garland Road location of LUCKY DOG BOOKS.


Here's how it's going down.

Jenny will speak briefly at 1 PM and take questions from the audience. We'll be collecting books from each author present during that time and putting them into a raffle basket. Then we'll have the signing! Everyone who buys one or more of our books gets a raffle ticket. We'll draw a name out of the hat (watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!) and award the basket of books! We'll then draw ten more names, and those lucky people will get to stay after for a "Getting Published/ Craft of Writing" session with the authors.

Now, about the charity part. Where will the profits go? Ms. Milchman intends to donate all profits she makes from the event to a Plano family, Kevin and Sandi Tipple and their two sons, who are saddled with medical bills and overdue rent. (Ms. Patterson and I wlll be donating a large share of our profits; we had to buy our books from those mean old publishers at almost full retail, alas.) Pretty cool, huh? Anyone who wants to help out will be welcomed with open arms. In fact, pretty much anyone who shows up will at least get a handshake and a cookie!

Here's the official flyer for the event. We'd love to see you!

Map/Directions to Lucky Dog Books, Lochwood location on Garland Road in Dallas (Casa Linda area, next to Casa Linda Bakery, in fact)

Lucky Dog Books is about a mile or so from White Rock Lake near the Lochwood Shopping Center, located on Garland Road just past Jupiter (if you're coming from the east). The store is next to a church (in fact, I think it's located in an old church building itself) on the right-hand side of the street a few long blocks past Jupiter Road, just beyond the Casa Linda Bakery. You can reach it from the north and/or west by coming east and southeast on 635 (LBJ) and taking a right turn on Jupiter Road and then another right on Garland. If you aren't that far north, just take Northwest Highway to Jupiter and then turn south on Garland Road. It only SOUNDS complicated. Better directions on their website.

Authors: God is in the details

I can't tell you how many mysteries (small press and self-published for the Kindle, as well as NYC house output) I've read recently that leave me feeling unsatisfied and irritated with the author.

So many times, there's something that should have been properly explained or properly set up, but the author doesn't bother. Perhaps she or he figures that we TV/movie watchers can be distracted and won't notice a few plot holes. "Oooh, shiny!" will take our attention away from whatever it was that needed explaining, and then we'll forget alllll about it like good little dum-dums. Sorry . . . it doesn't work for me.

The reason I have always liked "Back to the Future" so much is not just because of Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd at the height of their powers. Not just because it's such a clever idea. Not just because I love that 1950s fantasy world of nostalgia and all the wonderful cars, furnishings, and clothes. No, it's because EVERYTHING is accounted for by the end of the story. Even the dog, Einstein, whom I thought might be an "oopsie" in the plot, is shown jumping out of the van at the end of the film. So every detail is explained and it's all wrapped up. Even with the "hook" for the sequel at the end, we feel satisfied and we'd have been happy with no sequel and just our own imaginations to say that they lived happily ever after.

But many, MANY books that I read today (ones that are recently published) don't bother to tie up even the easiest of loose ends, and when there's an important question to be answered, they simply ignore it if it would make things tougher to write out. Characters are Too Stupid To Live or no one mentions the elephant in the room or an important clue is torn to bits and just "oh, well" forgotten about. With just a LITTLE work and care, these problems could be corrected and the storyline could be far more memorable.

Here's an example. In a NYC-published popular recent cozy, we have a man who tells a woman to come to a particular spot and watch for him to enter a restaurant. He says he's going to sit down with some people briefly, but then has his smartphone set to go off in about five minutes, and he'll beg off. Then he will exit the restaurant and go to a blue SUV parked on the street to wait for her. The heroine is intrigued. (He's in great demand as a semi-celebrity and every date they've tried to have has been interrupted, so this is the plan for them to sneak away together and have their first real date alone.)

So the heroine goes to this spot--a Christian Science Reading Room sort of place (remember those?) where you can go inside and read, and there's no one to monitor you, and this one is on the second floor across the street from the restaurant, so it's a perfect crow's nest. No one sees her going in, no one else is there, and of course she doesn't sign in. She plays on her Android tablet until she sees him going into the restaurant. She watches as if she's a hawk who knows a bunny is about to materialize, but he doesn't emerge from the restaurant. After about forty minutes she's angry enough to want to break up that little party and/or confront him. It's nearly nine o'clock and she hasn't eaten, and he knows that. She packs up her stuff (unfortunately not leaving anything behind but buttprints on the futon) and marches into the restaurant.

But he's not there. No large parties. It's all intimate dining and family seating. She makes a minor scene with the people at the front who seat you, but they insist he hasn't been here. Our Heroine feels this was yet another example of him "playing" her and sits down to have an elaborate dessert, defying anyone to say a word to her.

She marches back to her hotel room (they're on assignment out of town, of course) and flings the door open to find--his body sprawled out at the foot of her bed, of course. Dead, of course.

She screams and calls the police and does everything right, but naturally she is the major suspect. People say she wasn't seen until nine in the restaurant and she can't prove she was in the Reading Room watching for him. This kicks off the mystery.

Okay, fine. BUT! One little detail kept niggling at me for the rest of the book. I was confident this could be easily explained . . . but why, if he told her to meet him at the restaurant, was he in her room?

It's going to be the key to the plot! He is planting something in her things. Or he's searching for something that he's going to take or alter that she has. It's to sabotage her career with the company. Or there's some other good reason he is in there.

I'm waiting for the rest of the BOOK, but this is NEVER addressed. No one even ever ASKS why he was there when he was supposed to be meeting her, not even Our Sleuth. Wouldn't you wonder why he'd tell her to meet him at X and then he sneaks into her room? The cops are right to think that she lured him to her room to kill him. I'd think the same thing, except I'd marvel at her stupidity at not establishing an alibi and at leaving the body in her own room.

She never even tries to figure out what he was up to. She just says, "Oh, no, someone killed him in my room!" She is a real patsy and I kind of hate her from then on.

So much could have been done with this. He was there to plant something--and then she could have traced that back to find out who really did him in. He was there to steal something--and when she finds it on someone else, she can pounce. But no. We just kind of never know what the story really was, and it's irritating.

Details like this are common in today's not-vetted e-books. In fact, more e-books have "errors" that bug me than ever before. In lots of books, the heroine neglects to ask a simple question that anyone would naturally ask immediately, and goes on to ignore the issue through the entire book, not even answering/asking it in the final wrap-up. I don't mean the stupid stuff that happens in category romances, like the woman assuming he's cheating on her when the chick who was eating out with him was actually his cousin, but no one ever asks/tells anyone this until the end of the book. I mean things that create actual plot holes. Gaping plot holes. Things that I simply cannot BELIEVE. And the suspenders of disbelief snap, and the book is over for me.

What have you seen in recent novels, movies, or TV shows that's a deal-breaker for you? I'll bet you have a particular incident that you could have fixed easily if only you were the lucky writer!