One book leads to another...

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Odds and Endings

Hi, Everyone! Now that it’s “National Get Caught Reading Month,” can anyone recommend a good mystery to read beneath a full Flower Moon next week? I’m guessing there are a lot of A to Z Challenge Survivors out there – Congratulations! If you find your muse has left you without a word or ransom note, you can always sharpen your writing skills with any of the many great resources offered by the Insecure Writers Support Group, founded by Alex Cavanaugh, right here and right now on this first Wednesday of the month, when IWSG members convene through blogging, Facebook, and Twitter to talk about whatever is on our writing minds and agendas. See what we’re all talking about here.

I’m taking full advantage of the (optional) uplifting question of the month, “What is the weirdest/coolest thing you ever had to research for a story?” because who wants to dwell on rejections, right? Besides, this question calls to mind all the fun of the writing journey!

Since I’m one to wander off the beaten path, it’s no surprise I tend to do that in research as well. So once upon a quest for knowledge of how to handle being lost at sea (terrifying, isn’t it?) I came across the true story of a family on a dream vacation voyage in the Bahamas during which the Captain, having been caught in the act of murdering his wife (for the insurance policy he’d recently purchased), then proceeded to end the lives of all but one of the family who'd been alerted to the scene of the first crime by the screams of the Captain’s wife. It was nearly fifty years before (then eleven years old) Terry Jo, the only surviving family member, was able to tell her harrowing story in a book entitled “Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean.”

For another story I was writing – and researching, I was checking out hypnosis. Since there are quite a number of characters (in my story) under the influence, I wanted to know if there could be adverse reactions. And sure enough, there could. It’s called “Inadvertent suggestion acceptance”; sometimes concretely, sometimes literally. For example, You can dance your feet off, or You can eat anything that movesoh, the possibilities!

Not that I’m a fan, but one story led me to a most disgusting insect called a Tumblebug. Not even my cat would go near it. Out here we call it a Turd Roller because that’s what, and all, it does. Scientists, on the other hand, are quite interested in the only non-human ‘animal’ known to be in existence that uses the Milky Way for nocturnal orientation.

So, what’s in your notebook? On your agenda? Have you ever been lost at sea, hypnotized, or seen a Tumblebug?


  1. Hi, diedre!

    It's great to see you back on your blog again, dear friend.

    Fortunately I have never been lost at sea. It must be a terrifying experience, one that requires a person to summon every resource in order to survive. A few years ago Mrs. Shady and I got lost one dark and moonless night on a journey by car w/o GPS. We found ourselves in a labyrinth of adjacent suburban neighborhoods laced with circle drives, dead end streets and cul-de-sacs. No matter which road we chose it looped around and brought us right back to the same intersection. It was extremely confusing and frustrating. A trip that should have taken 2 hours wound up taking four.

    I remember studying those cow pie eating insects in school. We called them tumblebugs or dung beetles. Perhaps you agree with me that Dung Beetles would be a great name for a band. If so, I offer evidence that great minds think alike. In the UK there is a Beatles tribute band calling themselves The Dung Beatles. :)

    I hope you and your family are well, diedre. I miss you. Please take good care of yourself, dear friend!

    1. Hi Shady!

      I hope to be around more and more as things settle down. Five out of six of us are hanging in and doing reasonably well.

      What a nail-biting adventure you and Ms. Shady had! Someday I'll tell you about the 'Old Shoe' (an old beater car I had to drive through the Carolina woods).

      A band called the Dung Beetles? Now, that's funny!

      Have a great week ;-)

  2. Hi Diedre - dung beetles are wonderful creations of nature - a very necessary little beetle - and one we'd be worse off without.

    I imagine researching that child's story would be harrowing, yet reading to the real story much more so ... almost unbelievable ... cheers Hilary

    1. Hi Hilary!
      Yes, if scientists are correct (grin), these bugs are ancient, extremely advanced in terms of celestial knowledge, and experts in ecological efficiency.

      The story I found was both absorbing and sobering as my character's situation is not quite that dramatic ;-)

      Have a wonderful week!

  3. Hi Diedre! Yes, I've been hypnotized a number of times. Apparently I'm a good subject. I haven't come across a tumblebug, but I did play a dying ant in "The Insect Play" by the Brothers Čapek in university. It featured dung beetles. And, please God, let me never be lost at sea! The book “Alone: Orphaned on the Ocean,” sounds terrifying. You never know what interesting things you will find when doing research! Have a great May!

    1. Hi Fundy Blue!
      You're braver than I am, being hypnotized ;-) But there really aren't many adverse effects, I had to dig for what I found ;-)
      A dying ant? Now that's compelling!
      I might be alright being lost in the woods, but the sea? I agree, the very thought has me running toward higher elevations ;-)

  4. Wow, that is some interesting research. I've often wondered if I was struggling to survive, could I eat a bug. I'd hate to kill anything, but when the survival DNA kicks in, who knows.

    1. Hi Feather Stone!
      Funny you should mention eating a bug. The Chinese believe that dried Tumblebugs can cure at least 10 diseases. Still, those bug-eating contest shows make my stomach shrivel to the size of a pea ;-)

  5. I guess when I lose a few hours reading on the internet I can tell my family I was doing research. ;=) They aren't convinced my computer use is similar to their watching television.

    I've read about the little girl now grown woman who survived that horrible crime. Some people have very dark, selfish souls to kill people so casually.

    I hope you and your family are better.

    1. Hi Ann!

      Ha! I know what you mean. Even if I'm actually writing, my grandson says he wants to "play too" ;-)

      I hadn't heard the story of Terry Jo before I ran across it. I thought it quite unfair that the Captain would escape punishment as he did. But then I guess we can't know what afterlife he went to.

      We are all faring fairly well, all things considered. Thank you for asking ;-) I hope the same for you and yours as well. As we embark on our third (technically fourth) sunset stroll (assisting someone else) we're almost glad the court says we mustn't do any more so as not appear to do it for a living. Between the heartaches and hardships that come with it I only hope we're not too tired to take or own sunset stroll one day ;-)

      I peeked every chance I got and you had some really interesting posts for the A-Z Challenge!

  6. I've heard of Dung Beetles, but not tumblebugs. Are they the same critter?

    I've never been lost at sea, but that story sounds familiar.

    Hypnosis sounds like a great idea for good story-making. I'd like to use it on my family and see if they'd to a chore or two.

    1. Hi Tamara!
      Yes, both names apply to the same bug. One just sounds a little better ;-)
      Ha! I like your thinking about hypnosis!

  7. I was researching the bond/bail process and came across a funny judge in Florida (on Youtube). Of course, I started watching the videos and forgot about the research, right?

  8. Hi Quanie!

    Yessum! That's exactly how it happens ;-)

    Can't wait to find out what you're writing now!

  9. I am definitely interested in Terry Jo's book.

    1. Hi Chrys!

      Me too! I can't believe she kept it to herself for so long.

  10. I always wanted to learn hypnosis. I had some books on the subject when I was a kid, but I never was able to hypnotize anyone. On the other hand I never had any willing subjects to hypnotize. I tried self-hypnosis but that didn't work. I wonder how I would have brought myself out of the hypnotic state if I had been successful in putting myself under?

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

    1. Hi Arlee!

      Ha! "Willing subjects" was a surprise to me as I hadn't realized how many there actually are. As a kid, it seemed that most subjects were unwilling (or unaware) for nefarious purposes ;-)


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