Monday, April 27, 2015

Breaking the Rules

"Devotees of grammatical studies have not been distinguished for any very remarkable felicities of expression." Bronson Alcott

When writing fiction, it's okay to break a few rules. Unlike political incorrectness, grammatical incorrectness harms no one, and in general is more pleasing to the ear. A narrative should flow smoothly, not read like a research paper.

I'm not talking about poor grammar, unless your character comes from that background. Even then, don't go overboard with dialect. A little goes a long way. In The Elements of StyleStrunk and White say, "The best dialect writers...are economical of their talents, they use the minimum, not the maximum, of deviation from the norm, thus sparing the reader as well as convincing him."

What I'm referring to is all those prickly little rules we learned in grammar school, such as never end a sentence with a preposition, and never begin one with a conjunction.

"I can see him, up above," is more likely to be said in real life, instead of, "Up above, I can see him." And because of this, I'd rather end that sentence of dialogue with a preposition. But did you notice how I just started two sentences with conjunctions? If you've broken a writing rule, but it passes the natural speech test, you're pretty safe!

Remember, smooth flow and naturalistic dialogue keep the pages turning!

Have you broken any rules of writing lately?

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great week!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Kate Warne: First Female Private Eye

Kate Warne disguised as a man during
the Civil War to blend in during counter
spy investigations.
As a kid some of my favorite shows were about cops, private eyes and  spies, like Mission Impossible, The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Hawaii Five-O, and Mannix. And once, because of a job related incident while a librarian, I was questioned by the FBI and then subpoenaed to be a federal witness, which was a fascinating experience. 

Although I'm too wimpy to fire a gun or chase bad guys, I have a fascination with people who do!    

I'm taking a small departure from historical fiction as I work on my next book, which is a contemporary comedic mystery that involves a female private investigator.

However, since I am a history lover, I wanted to learn about the very first female private eye. Her name was Kate Warne (1833-1868), and here's part of her story from Wikipedia:
Described by Allan Pinkerton as a slender, brown haired woman, there is not much else known about Warne prior to when she walked into the Pinkerton Detective Agency in 1856. Born in New York, Warne became a widow shortly after she married. Warne was left as a young childless widow in search of work. In answer to an ad in a local newspaper, Warne walked into Pinkerton's Chicago office in search of a job. There is still debate whether or not she walked in with intentions to become a detective or just a secretary. Women were not detectives until well after the Civil War. Pinkerton himself claimed that Warne came into his agency and demanded to become a detective. According to Pinkerton's records, he
"was surprised to learn Kate was not looking for clerical work, but was actually answering an advertisement for detectives he had placed in a Chicago newspaper. At the time, such a concept was almost unheard of. Pinkerton said " It is not the custom to employ women detectives!" Kate argued her point of view eloquently - pointing out that women could be "most useful in worming out secrets in many places which would be impossible for a male detective." A Woman would be able to befriend the wives and girlfriends of suspected criminals and gain their confidence. Men become braggarts when they are around women who encourage them to boast. Kate also noted, Women have an eye for detail and are excellent observers."[2]
Warne's arguments swayed Pinkerton, who at 10 o'clock on the morning of August 23, 1856, employed Warne as the first female detective.[3] Pinkerton soon had a chance to put Warne to the test. In 1858, Warne was involved in the case of Adams Express Company embezzlements where she was successfully able to bring herself into the confidence of the wife of the prime suspect, Mr. Maroney. She thereby acquired the valuable evidence leading to the husband's conviction.[4] Mr. Maroney was an expressman living in Montgomery, Alabama. The Maroneys stole $50,000 from the Adams Express Company. With Warne’s help, $39,515 was returned. Mr. Maroney was convicted and sentenced to ten years in Montgomery, Alabama.
For the rest of her story click here.
Had you ever heard of Kate Warne?
Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Pork Chops for the Slow Cooker

I love pork chops and that's one food that my whole family likes. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I'm planning to this week. Thought I'd share it today; it's from and looks pretty easy and sounds really good. I especially love the 5 minute prep time! It also a hint of Asian influence--that's always a winner with my family. Enjoy!

Pork Chops for the Slow Cooker

6 boneless pork chops
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 t ground ginger
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
2 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper to taste

Place pork chops in slow cooker. Combine remaining ingredients and pour over pork chops.Cook on low 6 hours, or until internal temperature of pork has reached 145 degrees F (63 degrees C).

Do you have a favorite pork chop recipe?

Thanks for visiting and have a great week!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Taking a Spring Break

Enjoy the spring and the beautiful weather it brings along! Will be back April 13th.