Sunday, October 31, 2010


Happy Halloween, everyone!

Fiorella celebrated the holiday by attending her high school reunion in Waco Friday night, and it was scary. All logic to the contrary, Fio expected to walk in and find everyone else looked just like they did in high school, while she looked . . . well, like she does now. But, guess what? All of her former classmates looked older too. In fact some of them even looked older than Fio.

So there was no trick, but there was a treat.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hello, World!

On Thursday, October 28, Fiorella emailed a cover letter, a synopsis, and her full manuscript to an agent who'd requested it. Then she heaved a great sigh of relief and began to awaken from her coma. Yes, Fio has been doing very little but working on her magnum opus for the past two weeks.

But that's what it takes. Total concentration.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Out of the Closet

Fiorella's been hearing a lot about breast cancer lately, which is amazing. Amazing not in the fact that she's seeing more pink than she ever knew existed, but that she's hearing people actually use the word "breast."

During Fio's formative years, nice people said "bosom" if they said anything at all. We can thank Betty Ford for getting us over that nonsense. She not only talked about her own breast cancer, but made it respectable. I'm not sure what Gerald Ford did during his presidency, but his wife certainly was a winner.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Well-done Death

Mother died right. She informed everyone she had just six months, gave away what she wanted to give away, cleaned the house, and went through her desk, putting all papers in order. Fio also presumes that she destroyed what she didn't want anyone to see.

It's a good thing Mother was industrious because she didn't have six months--she had two. But we were all there at her deathbed--Father, Brother, Fio, Husband, offspring--and she knew it.

After she died, Father, Brother, and Fio opened her closet to select funeral clothes. There, on the inside of the door was a navy blue dress with an appropriate necklace looped around the neck of the hanger.

Mother died right, but then she did everything right. As for Fio, the klutz, when her time comes, she'll probably screw it up.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Hide Me from the Trees

Basking in her recent writing contest win in the Garden State, Fiorella is printing out one of her romances for a final read before sending it off to an agent who's requested it. It's more than four hundred pages total, which means Fio personally has denuded more forests than Paul Bunyan ever dreamed of.

And she's got three other novels in the closet and two others planned. The Efts are coming for her any day now.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Save Rocky!

Lock up your pets. In his ever-increasing mania to experience every aspect of life, now Matt Roloff is talking about killing his dog because it's old and might be in pain.

For heaven's sake, give the poor old pooch some aspirin and pamper him a while. Get him a cart for his rear legs, if needed--you have the money. But please don't shoot him. What sort of message does that send to your audience--that old dogs are open season for target practice? And your idea of having Jeremy,your alter ego, do the deed is even worse. Don't ask your kids to do stuff like that.

Sure, as you keep saying, they shot the dog in Old Yeller, but that was more than a hundred years ago, and the dog was rabid. We still shoot rabid dogs today, but we give docile old dogs a tender good-by at the vet's office, telling them how much we love them as they depart this world.

Be careful of the precedent you set, Matt. After all, you're getting old and infirm yourself.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Neanderthal Dreams

Anthropologists now say Neanderthals contributed up to four percent of our genome and, except for their thicker bones, protruding foreheads, and stockiness, were much like us.

Fiorella is thrilled. Years ago a bone scan showed her skeleton to be freakishly dense (no comments about her head, please), and, after a juvenile growth spurt that made her the tallest in her class, she ended up short and stocky. Prominent foreheads run in Husband's family.

Maybe putting Fio and Husband's genomes together, their children ended up with six percent Neanderthal. Fio is doubly thrilled!

Sunday, October 24, 2010


Fio and Husband put on their glad rags and drove into Georgetown to justify their Palace Theater season tickets by taking in the first production of the new season, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella.

The theater was stuffed to the gills, mainly with roe. Yes, every child in town was either in the audience or on stage. Obviously a G-rated production, but Fio doesn't need French farce to keep her happy so she sat back to enjoy the show. After all, how can one go wrong with Rodgers and Hammerstein, Fio thought, as she and Husband hummed along to the pre-show music, selections from Oklahoma, South Pacific, and other R&H Broadway hits.

Fio knew the original Cinderella, written for TV, had been a flop, but assumed it had been reworked for the stage. Apparently not. There was some awkward updating of the dialogue, but the story was a pastiche of stereotypical characters, attitudes, and situations, and there wasn't even one memorable tune to alleviate the misery.

The director seemingly couldn't decide whether to present the story as a fairy tale or as an eighties' sitcom, resulting in fake Disney. Fio expected the teapot to start dancing and singing at any moment. Most of the actors were very young, and the impression was that one was watching a high school play with elementary school extras. Only when the adults appeared--the king and queen, the stepmother and stepsisters, the preachy fairy godmother--did the play really come to life. The one exception was young Nick Orzech as Lionel. He's an old pro with a great voice who knows how to command the stage.

There were technical problems too. The first act was so loud that Fio kept her fingers in ears the whole time. The costumes were okay, although Fio questions the decision to swathe all the main characters in white for the wedding scene. But the hair was awful. Judging by the plenitude of ill-fitting, kinky, platinum blond wigs,
Cinderella lived in California.

On the other hand, Fio was totally impressed by the use of scenery on the small Palace stage, particularly the rotating platform as Cinderella was on her way to the ball. The use of lights was nice too, especially the dawn scene and the filter that produced the effect of light dappling through trees.

But Fio wants to pick a few bones with some of the singers. The kid playing the Prince seemed to be a nice young man, and his voice shows promise, but IT NEEDS TRAINING. He must learn how to place it for resonance because otherwise he sounds flat. Also, Cinderella and the narrator had hints of a country-western twang that seemed inappropriate to the fairy tale.

Fiorella almost didn't return to her seat for the second act because of the smoke in the air, apparently from fairy dust. If she dies of mesothelioma within the year, Husband will know whom to sue.

While the show wasn't Fio's cup of tea, the children in the audience seemed to enjoy it, and that was what was important. Fio's not crazy about a two-hour long singing lecture, even for children, but it's certainly more appropriate than The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, at which Fio saw far too many children in the audience.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Picketing Project Runway

Fiorella takes back everything she said about how well Project Runway has manipulated its plot this season. Michael C, the hero, was killed off in the next to the last chapter, leaving Gretchen, the villain, to rule the roost. Yes, just in real life, the good guy got screwed. Fio immediately switched off the TV and will not watch the finale next Thursday evening.

As an author herself, she promises you she will never do that in one of her romances. True life is true life, but we all deserve fiction.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Weimers Rule!

Our Wendy is a sweetie dog
Who understands her place--
On pillow soft, on couch or bed,
Being patted on the head,
Lazing on the bathroom rug
Or licking at my face.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Underwear Freak

There are many things Fiorella can understand people getting a sexual rush from, but wearing underwear that doesn't fit isn't one of them. Yet Col. Russell Williams, a Canadian air force up-and-comer, committed two murders, two sexual assaults, and eighty-two break-ins in order to obtain the underpants of girls as young as eleven, then videotaped himself wearing them with--uh--everything overflowing.

Not only horrible, but weird.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Heavy Mail

Just twelve Christmas catalogs yesterday? What's wrong with us?

Fio remembers when the only holiday catalog she received was from Sears. Now it seems that everyone and their dog is sending one out. In fact, she recently received one that catered only to dogs. Fio would like to see that order placed.

What she really can't understand is how the postal service is going broke. Sure, no one writes personal letter anymore, but the postage on all those catalogs should have taken up the slack and then some.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Winter Dreams

Fiorella and Husband walked the driveway yesterday, looking for dead trees. It's that time of year again, and they need to fill the firewood rings before it gets too cold to run around chainsawing and stacking. Last year, they used far too much boughten wood to please Fio, who likes the romance of living off the land.

Besides, we may actually have a winter again this year, with freezing temperatures and real live snow. Naw--in my dreams.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Writers' Alert

If you want to see how to plot a story and engender reader sympathy for your main character, watch and learn from Project Runway.

Yes, a fashion show.

This season's major conflict has been between the humble Michael Costello and the arrogant Gretchen Jones, and they're not going to end up in each other's arms. She talked smack about him early on, rallying the troops around her, and even after Michael C won two challenges in a row, she continued to badmouth him. But one by one, her compadres who were dumb enough to follow her design advice were eliminated.

Then the villain resurged even as our hero sank to the bottom in the last three challenges. The viewer saw Gretchen embracing her mother, Gretchen weeping as she talked about the financial bind she was in, Gretchen wondering if Michael was an idiot savant or just an idiot. What would happen next? Would Michael C be eliminated and Gretchen stomp on his corpse?

Like a theater audience cheering on Indiana Jones during a chase scene, viewers sent encouraging notes to Michael on Project Runway websites, apparently unaware that the whole show had been filmed and edited for plot months ago.

But while there may be no justice in the world, it prevails in every decently-crafted story. The hero and villain have to stay around till the last hurrah. So Michael rose to the last challenge, and both he and Gretchen will be in the final chapter. Forget the other two guys in there with them. One of them may cop the top prize, but they're minor characters in the drama.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Deep Fried

There's a lot of talk about deep point of view right now, and, as far as Fiorella can see, nobody does it better than Susan Elizabeth Phillips, which is why Fio keeps a copy of Heaven, Texas by her side while she writes. If Fio's chapters seem to be bogging down, she delves into Heaven for a page or two and gets herself into gear again.

Fio's read prescriptions for writing deep POV, which is basically getting so far into the character's viewpoint that one is practically writing first person, but there's no substitute for feeling how to do it so that it flows naturally.

The oil's boiling. Dive in.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Buy This Book!

Sorry. Fiorella is late today. She had to get her act together early this morning and dash off to the local book store to read the sonnet and flash fiction short story she'd contributed to FLASHES OF FEAR, the little book put together by members of the San Gabriel Writers' League (available at

Being the first reader, she ended up employing her organizational skills to set up the scene, grabbing the microphone before the show began to hawk the book to the local populace. It meant she ended up with an audience of three--Husband, Friend Mike (awaiting his turn at the mic), and his wife Diane.

But that's better than none.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Broomstick in the Corner

They kept the witch. They had to. A good plot never defeats the villain until the last reel. Thus Gretchen Jones made the final four on Project Runway, even though her outfit was ghastly. April Johnston, a weak sister from the very first, was finally eliminated for AGAIN designing a sexy Halloween costume.

The other three finalists are Michael C, Mondo, and Andy. Michael C, in effect, won the challenge. Yes, the same Michael C about whom Gretchen earlier in the show had commented, "I don't know if he's an idiot savant or just an idiot."

Maybe he's just a nice guy loaded with talent.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Given the frequency Fio critiques TV shows, you probably think she spends all her time watching the boob tube, but actually she has only a few favorites: the country dwarves and the city dwarves, Project Runway, The Choir, and Income Property.

Income Property features Canadian Scott McGillivray, who transforms people's cruddy basements into high-dollar income property. It's fascinating. Fio's always liked before-and-after stories.

Now, if she just had a basement.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Pain, the Glory

That manuscript Fio thought was perfect--now that she's had a request for the full from an agent, she's completely reworking it. And it's amazing how much time editing takes. Two days and she's just done four chapters. But then, she's been fighting off armadillos in the meantime.
Did Fio tell you two of her entries placed first and second in a romance-writing contest? It's a real thrill, but contests are always a crap shoot. Critiques are subjective, of course, because the judges are real live human beings. In the same contest, one judge told Fio her entry had too much internal dialogue and description while the other judge said she needed more of both. Fio figured they balanced out and she was just right.
Fio writes romances with the hopes of a lucrative career, but she dumps whatever else she's thinking about into this blog. Thus she analyzed Project Runway's current dramatic set-up here a couple of days ago ("Gretchen is Hitler, Ivy is Goebbels, and Michael C is a hapless Jew"). Well, wonder of wonders, she was plowing through a Project Runway-based site and discovered her blog in a prime spot! National recognition!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

To Age or Not to Age

British actors are odd in that they actually allow themselves to age--and continue acting till they die. It's just that their roles change.

Take three grand dames who appeared together decades ago in a TV performance of Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream. Judi Dench ("M")appeared as Titania; Diana Rigg, later to gain fame as Emma Peel, played Helena; and Helen Mirren, AKA Queen Elizabeth, took on the role of Hermia.
Now they play senior citizens

American actors, on the other hand, try to cling to the type of roles they first had when they hit Hollywood--young roles. And discreet trips to the friendly neighborhood plastic surgeon accommodate them. Think of Demi Moore, Pamela Anderson, and Priscilla Presley. And names like Jennifer Anniston, Eva Longoria, and Angelina Jolie are following suit.

Then there's Betty White.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Simplicity Itself

A psychiatrist put Fiorella on happy pills once, but Fio defeated them--when her life was going well, she was happy; when it wasn't, she was depressed. And that's the way it still is. Fio has a very simple nature.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

New Lives for Old

Some people have the knack for re-inventing themselves. Fiorella has known three extreme examples: Carolyn, Sue, and Andrew, all academics.

Carolyn changed her last name by marriage at least three times, then changed her first and last names legally, then changed her last name again by marrying again. Her personality went to the extreme as she became a guru of metaphysical enlightenment.

Sue was deliberately deceptive, adopting a British accent and letting her colleagues think her degree from a Canadian university called Oxford was from THE Oxford. It worked. Academic males go gaga for a British accent. Too bad she couldn't bring herself to pay her daughter's piano teacher.

Andrew who'd started using his middle name after an investment scandal, reinvented himself as a philosophy teacher. He imitated the behavior of other academics, got in good with everyone, and was up and coming until someone discovered that he didn't have the advanced degrees he'd claimed.

Fio liked all three of these people. They were charming. But she doesn't understand re-invention of oneself, maybe because she's gone the opposite direction, seeking out her core.

Yes, Fio's an open book, and you're reading her.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Why DoThey Hate Michael C?

Q: What did Michael do to make the other designers hate him so?
A: Nothing.

It's classic bullying behavior, alive and well in every classroom in the country, and here's how it works. A strong, confident personality expresses opinions and attracts weaker personalities who shelter under the former's flapping wings. Like baby birds, they seek Mama's attention and approval by squawking loudly, echoing whatever she says in even bolder terms.

Finding prey is the key because there is nothing that unites a group like a common enemy, usually some innocuous soul whose only sin has been not to flock to the worship of the strong personality. Exciting, inciting rumors about the target add to the drama and further unite the group in a frenzy of self-justification.

Gretchen Jones established herself as the Project Runway workroom arbiter by winning the first two challenges. Then Ivy Higa opened her beak wide and became head baby bird. For her scapegoat, Gretchen zeroed in on Michael Costello, shy and self-effacing, and the other designers followed suit. To make matters worse, Michael promptly won two challenges in a row. Not even his worshipping at the feet of Gretchen's over-inflated self-esteem by choosing her first for the group challenge made her back off. In fact, it gave her an opportunity to-uh-throw him under the bus.

Logic has nothing to do with the bullying. None of the designers seem to have noticed that swallowing Gretchen's tasty worms of advice has gotten them, one by one, knocked out of the nest. Ivy, of course, blames Michael rather than Gretchen (or herself) for her ouster.

Surely, you think, the remaining workroom residents would wise up by now. But no, it's so much easier to let someone else do your thinking for you. And besides, how humbling to admit you were wrong, that you let yourself be duped by Gretchen. Mondo and AJ were big enough to do just that after they were forced to work with Michael and got to know him, but April is still spouting vintage Gretchen. Andy also seems to be goose-stepping.

Ivy is Goebbels, Gretchen is Hitler, and Michael C is a hapless Jew.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Brad the Stud

You know Fio is a Luann fan. She loves the comic strip's story lines, the way the characters are drawn, and the way they evolve. Brad, Luann's brother, is a case in point. Not only has his body shaped up, but his head has undergone subtle revisions as he's become more and more worthy of the divine Toni Daytona. The low hairline has receded a decent distance, the odd dent on the back of his head is gone, he's grown a neck, and his nose is less snub. And now, ta-da, he's developed a chin! Yes, Fio was thrilled to notice recently week that Brad's chin, formerly non-existent, now is pitched at a 90-degree angle.

But, as for TJ . . . .

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Some people leave trails of bread crumbs. Everywhere in the house he goes, Husband leaves trails of dimes--sometimes nickels or pennies, rarely quarters--but mostly dimes.

Darn. Wish they were hundred-dollar bills.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

And Leap Tall Buildings in a Single Bound

2:00 a.m. and Fio woke up feeling great, freed from her rind of headache and depression by the paring knife of hydrocodone. The future looked bright and everything seemed possible. Come morning, she'd finish her latest novel, clean out her study that's been a storage dump for a year, touch up those paintings she's been meaning to work on, gather everything she's ever written into one huge olio, and single-handedly fill in all the driveway ruts. She'd also lose twenty pounds. That should set her up for all the stuff she wants to do the next day.

Four hours later, in the cold light of dawn, Fio understands why people get addicted to drugs like hydrocodone.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy, Happy!

Today is Older Son's birthday so Fiorella is waxing nostalgic. She remembers the little baby with the pink cheeks and the big dark eyes. She remembers the boy who would climb everything and anything, fearlessly. She remembers the hulking teenager who taught swimming to children and, who so sweet and tender that all the mothers beamed at him and Fio forgave him for the extra trip out she'd had to make to bring him the lunch he'd forgotten on the kitchen counter at home.

There have been darker times too, but Fio is confident Older Son will overcome and triumph. He's that kind of person, always has been, and always will be. Go get'em, tiger!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Shoes, Bras, and Stockings

Women's shoes have gone from hardly there to everywhere. Yesterday's strappy nothings have been swept under the wave of fashion by a tide of klunkies that cover everything from toe to ankle and even upward.
Bras have made the same journey. The style now is for big, molded hemispheres that look like they were designed to guard breast implants. Racks of them hang like grapefruits in the lingerie section. They're here today, but Fio hopes they'll be gone tomorrow.
It must be the cover-up age because leggings and stockings are also back in vogue. When cooler weather comes around, those might be fun, but Fio's legs will still run naked in the summer. How about yours?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting toThird Floor

One two
Me and you
Three four
Close the door

Two plus one is three
Three for three are we
I guess I'll see
You presently

Saturday, October 2, 2010


The afternoon shadows have shifted
Long and dark, they encompass me
Winter comes behind
Silent snow upon the grave

Friday, October 1, 2010


In case you receive a Viagra advertisement from Fiorella, beware--she's been hacked.

Some electronic mastermind, apparently under the impression that Fio has hordes of free-spending readers, has set up commercial websites that use some of her blog entries as a lure. Fio is flattered, but not pleased.

Always look for the real thing. Fiorella Plum exists only on this website.

On the other hand, if there's someone out there who would like to publish Fio legitimately, she's all yours.