Archive | April 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Hop

Views From the Muse

by Taffy Cannon

This is kind of an blog chain letter, wherein one writer answers a specific set of questions about a work-in-progress, and then tags five other writers to answer the same ten WIP questions on their blogs—and so on and so on until there aren’t any more writers left on the earth.

Of course I am a rebel by nature and so I have switched around the order of the questions to make them more to my liking. Also because this book is unlike anything I’ve written previously.

What is the working title of your book?

The Baby Boomer’s Guide to SibCare

Who or what inspired you to write this book?  Where did the idea come from for the WIP?

Five years ago, my younger brother’s health, which had been problematic since a malignant brain tumor in 1994, took a serious nosedive. My sister and I were suddenly…

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The St. Patrick’s Day Party, an Accidental Tradition

Views From the Muse


by Taffy Cannon

Sometimes tradition overtakes you when you’re not really paying attention, and so it has been with the St. Patrick’s Day dinner.

I can’t remember exactly when the event morphed from being corned beef for my husband and me on March 17th into an annual party for a few close friends and relatives. Somewhere between Dallas and LA, I guess, when we migrated toward the sun in the late 70s. But I can definitely date its traditionhood to about fifteen years ago when the holiday began to require its own box in the attic to store various Celtic CDs, shamrock-bedecked accoutrements, green bowls, and Irishwear that includes a Kelly green sweater emblazoned with shamrocks. I wear it with a button that reads: God created whiskey to keep the Irish from ruling the world.

The guest list has varied over the years, and some of my more peripatetic…

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Button, Button, Who’s Got My Button?

Views From the Muse

by Taffy Cannon

My “Sluts for Obama” button arrived on Friday.

It’s not my first political button, of course.  That would be the gold elephant wearing black plastic Goldwater glasses that a friend of my father’s gave me in 1964.  I wore that pin proudly and was always prepared to discuss A Choice Not an Echo, though I can’t remember anybody wanting to. Decades later when we were both very different people, I realized that Hillary Rodham had probably been wearing the same pin on her winter coat that year, in a different suburban neighborhood of our native Chicago.

By the time the next presidential election rolled around in 1968, I was a junior Poli Sci major at Duke and all hell was breaking loose in the political world.

I’d worked the first part of that summer in a loose Congressional internship and had some equally loose connections to the…

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TSA, the Kubotan, and Me

Views From the Muse

by Taffy Cannon

“It will be a miracle if they don’t want to take a look at something,” I told my adult daughter as we slipped into our shoes after passing personal TSA screening at the St. Louis Airport.

It was high noon on Sunday and we were headed home after ninety-six jam-packed hours in the small Southern Illinois town where my brother had just passed away after a lengthy and complicated illness. Somehow we had managed to complete everything that needed to be done—including eating corned beef and cabbage on St. Patrick’s Day at the improbably-named Covered in Chocolate restaurant and riding out a thunderstorm the previous night that cut power to half the county, including our hotel.

After a skycap checked four large suitcases full of memorabilia and the final gleanings of a life finished too soon, we’d proceeded toward our gate with a motley collection of mismatched…

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The Research Iceberg

Get It Write

by Taffy Cannon

IThe old adage to write what you know is only useful if what you know happens to be interesting, or if your style is so origi­nal and provocative that you could make hedge clipper instructions scintillating.  And if you write fiction, you’re making it up anyway, aren’t you?

Well, yes.  But sooner or later, your fiction is going to lead you into areas that you don’t know much about.  Medieval carpentry, say, or dung beetles.  Research is required.

Most likely this will be a subject that you have a strong personal interest in, so you’ll plunge headlong into that research.  You’ll bury yourself in the library, spend hours online, talk to specialists in the field, hunt down obscure references, visit laboratories, conduct experi­ments.  Each step is likely to suggest more avenues to explore, and before long, you’ll discover that you know a staggering amount about the…

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The Case of the Exploding Whoopie Cushion

Get It Write

by Taffy Cannon, with apologies to Erle Stanley Gardner

Della Street nibbled on a pen labeled “Walker Novelties” and jotted an occasional note.  Beside her, Junior Walker slumped in his seat.  On trial for murdering his father, he claimed to know nothing about the explosive-filled whoopie cushion that had killed Senior Walker.

On the stand now was Senior’s blue-haired veteran secretary, Leticia Larue, dressed in severe black and dabbing at her eyes with a lace hankie.

“You heard Junior threaten Senior?” District Attorney Hamilton Burger asked.

“He said he’d blow him to the Great Joke Shop in the Sky.”

“No further questions.”

Perry Mason approached the witness, leaned forward and adjusted his lapel.  Suddenly water squirted from his carnation into Leticia’s beady gray eye.

She leapt up, screaming.  “You’re all alike, overgrown little boys!  I did it!  Forty-seven years of plastic vomit in my typewriter, rubber tarantulas in the powder…

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Is That a Jackass Writing Your Book?

Get It Write

by Taffy Cannon

We’re all familiar with Very Famous Writers whose books are actually written by others. James Patterson’s franchise pumps out a new book approximately every fifteen minutes, for instance, with a co-author generally credited in smaller type on the bottom of the glossy, embossed cover.

Patterson’s writers work from his outlines and at his pleasure, and millions of readers don’t seem to mind at all. Some of his cowriters spin off into solo careers and others, like my seventh grade boyfriend, already have highly respected literary reputations that don’t always translate into a living wage.

Yes, my seventh grade boyfriend. You can’t make this stuff up.

The idea of farming out the writing of popular fiction is nothing new. Those of us who grew up on Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys were shocked as adults to learn that Carolyn Keene and Franklin W. Dixon were pseudonyms. Those…

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Listening for Structure

Get It Write


By Taffy Cannon

When I first started listening to audio books, I had no particular plan beyond enjoying some of my favorite authors in a new format.

I knew I couldn’t realistically listen to unabridged audio books, because the only place I played these tapes was in my car, and my driving at that point was mostly limited to short trips, car pools, and errands around town.  It could take months to finish an unabridged book at that rate.

And yes, I was aware of the wails from purists who insisted that abridgement destroyed the experience by robbing the audio narrative of … well, of much of its narrative.

But at first that didn’t make much difference, and as time passed, I was seeing less and less on the audio shelves of the library that I hadn’t read before.  Increasingly I found myself listening to books I had already…

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Do Comfort Reads Need to be Comfortable?

Get It Write

by Taffy Cannon

Most folks have a pretty clear idea of what constitutes a “comfort read.”  It’s written matter that you turn to in times of stress, or when you need a break that requires little cogitation, or when you are perfectly happy but flat out not interested in being challenged on any level.

This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s simple writing.  For some folks, Moby Dick is a comfort read, and plenty of others like to curl up with a cup of tea and Jane Austen.  Engineers go back to Tom Clancy. And there are nearly as many people who fall into the receiving arms of science fiction or fantasy as there are those whose comfort springs straight from romance.

What’s comfortable for you is as individual as your DNA.

But it is comfortable. That’s why you choose it. You’re either already familiar with the book or pretty certain to…

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