Friday, October 24, 2014

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?--Donald Bain and Renee Paley-Bain

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Don Bain and Renee Paley-Bain, authors of the novelizations of Murder, She Wrote, as Donald Bain and Jessica Fletcher, hardly need any introduction from me.  But I must say that, "Where do you get your ideas?" is as a writer perhaps my favorite question from readers, and I am fascinated, as always, but the daisy-chain of ideas that go into what becomes a book. I only wish I could say I'd written 42 of them!!!! (Or is that 120??)

Here are the Bains to tell us!

Where do you get your ideas?

This must be a question that every writer gets (right, Reds?) whether on their first book or forty-first. Our forty-second book in the “Murder, She Wrote” series is just out, Death of a Blue Blood, and while looking back over the twenty-five years of publication we don’t always remember what prompted a particular plot, we do know exactly what inspired this one: “Downton Abbey.”

You might find it ironic that a book series based on the characters from a television series includes a book inspired by another television series. But we like irony.

For those of you not familiar with “Downton,” it’s a PBS series about an English aristocratic family caught up in changing times and mores of the post-Edwardian era. It’s one of the superb British costume dramas that show up periodically on public television and inspire a devoted following—including us. Its predecessor in the same vein was “Upstairs Downstairs,” which we also loved and whose 68 episodes chronicled the same social milieu in the 1930s. The fifth season of “Downton Abbey” is currently airing in the still-United Kingdom (Thank you, Scotland!) and will show up on U.S. TV in January 2015.

What is it about the lives of England’s advantaged class that so captivates us? After all, we sloughed off the rule of Mad King George 238 years ago—and violently, too. Yet we’re still fascinated by the nobility we rejected, the extravagant behavior of the lords and ladies that repelled us when we were expected to finance it.

Renée’s theory is that these shows are simply grown-up fairy tales with castles and balls, and elegantly dressed men and women waited on by an army of servants—a dream life found in the pages of  “Cinderella,” “Snow White,” “Sleeping Beauty,” et al, that a good many of us were raised up on in nightly stories—at least the females among us, Don adds. Of course each fairy tale had a stumbling block to happiness in the form of an evil stepmother, poison apple, or witch’s curse, just so we wouldn’t think a life of privilege came easily.

In Death of a Blue Blood, Jessica Fletcher is invited to a New Year’s Eve ball at Castorbrook Castle in the Cotswolds (talk about alliteration!). And her “plus one” is the handsome Scotland Yard inspector, George Sutherland, who has been wooing her since the very first book in the series, Gin & Daggers. Readers are divided over who Jessica’s love interest, if any, should be, with many rooting for Dr. Seth Hazlitt, her usual companion on the television show. But George has a pretty good fan base by now, having appeared in at least half a dozen of the books.

“Downton” is filmed at the ancestral home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and an enjoyable part of our research was multiple viewings of “Secrets of Highclere Castle,” a DVD visit to the earl’s country home, situated on a 5,000-acre estate. (The current countess also writes a blog on life at Highclere.) Our fictional Castorbook Castle is owned by the Earl and Countess of Norrance, and his lordship has a mother, Lady Honora, with an equally dyspeptic outlook as the “Downton” character, Lady
Violet, played on television by the delightful Maggie Smith.

While there are some similarities given our admitted admiration for “Downton Abbey,” there are many more differences to accommodate both our imaginations and the requirements of our modern story. In the first chapter, Jessica discovers the body of a woman lying on a path in a secret garden, and nearly succumbs herself when she gets locked out in the cold. Here’s a peek at her first introduction to her host and his family:

“Who was she?” I asked George in a low voice.

“Apparently she served as lady’s maid to our 

“Lady Norrance?”

He nodded. “Her name was Flavia Beckwith. She’d been with the family many years. Drink your tea.”

“Didn’t anyone miss her?” I whispered.

“With all the hustle and bustle of the staff getting ready for the ball, no one thought to look for her.”

I took a sip from the delicate china cup and replaced it in the saucer. I was wrapped in a heavy blanket in a wing chair in a corner of the drawing room near the tall Christmas tree, the branches of which held swags of gold ribbon, gold glass balls, and electric candles. George sat on an ottoman by by my side. There were ten of us gathered for afternoon tea. George and I were the only ones who weren’t members of the family, but a few other guests were expected to arrive at any moment. Our hosts, Lord and Lady Norrance, had fussed over me in my disheveled state, but were understandably far more upset to learn of Mrs. Beckwith’s demise.

“What in blazes was she doing in the garden?” Lord Norrance asked, glaring at his wife.

Marielle, the countess of Norrance, raised a hand to tuck a loose strand of hair into her chignon. “I asked her find a sprig of holly that I could use for my hair for the ball.” She checked her image in the mirror over the fireplace. “I didn’t ask her to go into the garden.”

“Any sensible person knows it’s far too cold to walk outside at this time of year,” said a gravelly voice belonging to the Dowager Countess of Norrance, the earl’s widowed mother. Honora Grant was a slight woman in her seventies, but her delicate appearance belied her tough nature. Earlier, when she had leaned on Nigel’s arm as he escorted her into the room, she had pointed to a seat with her cane. “Put me over there where I can see everyone. Marielle, you know that’s my chair by the fire. Find another place, if you please.”

Lady Norrance obligingly vacated her seat so her mother-in-law could take it. Nigel placed a pillow he’d carried in on the chair, and Honora settled herself down. She cast a critical eye on the other occupants of the room. “I hope you’re not planning to cancel the ball because of this unfortunate incident.”

“Oh! We hadn’t thought...” the earl’s wife trailed off.

“You really should, you know,” said a young woman dressed in jodhpurs and boots. “We’ve had a death in the family.” She released the scarf around her neck and shook out her dark blonde hair.

“Nonsense!” the earl said. “This event has been on the social calendar for many months.”

“Jemma, must you irritate your father?”

“Sorry, mum.”

“We could hardly cancel now,” the earl said. “People are already arriving.” He waved an arm in George and my direction.

“And very welcome you are,” said Rupert Grant, the earl’s younger son, nodding at us, causing a curl from his carefully gelled hair to flop onto his forehead. He was a boyish looking fellow in his mid-twenties. “Besides, Flavia would not have wanted to discomfort the family in any way.” He leaned forward to pluck a pastry from a silver tray. “Isn’t that right, Mother?”

“You’re correct, of course, dear. Please take a plate and napkin. Mrs. Beckwith was dedicated to Castorbrook Castle and our family.”

“Wasn’t she a governess once?” the dowager asked.

“Yes, Grandmother,” Rupert said, “but she needed another job when the three of us rudely decided to grow up.” He cocked his head at his sister, Jemma, the horsewoman, and their older brother, Kip, who sat across the room and idly paged through a magazine. “And Mother gave the old girl another position.”

“Ridiculous! She wasn’t even trained.” Honora thumped her cane on the floor. “Can’t imagine she could have been a proper lady’s maid without training. But then your mother probably doesn’t know the difference.”

Marielle flushed and looked to her husband for defense, but he was lost in thought as he stared into the fire.

Jessica begins to investigate the background of the dead woman and George, who’s convinced her death was an accident, reluctantly joins in.

We had fun tramping around our fictional castle, peeking into the elegant halls on public display and the scruffier ones behind the scenes, and most of all, creating the colorful array of characters led by Lord and Lady Norrance. We hope you enjoy our latest effort.

So, Jungle Red Writers and readers: Do you have a favorite fairy tale? Is there a castle in it?

Murder, She Wrote: Death of a Blue Blood, published by the Obsidian imprint of Penguin Group, is bylined by the fictional Jessica Fletcher and the actual Donald Bain. Don’s wife Renée Paley-Bain collaborates with him on the series. 2014 marks the 25th year of “Murder, She Wrote” in print. Don, who has written more than 120 books, is also the author of the “Margaret Truman Capital Crime Series” (Tor/Forge), and, this year, had his first stand-alone thriller published under his own name, Lights Out! (Severn House).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Guys and Dolls and Room Service

DEBORAH CROMBIE: (Tales from the Road, Part 2) I'm now approaching four and a half weeks on book tour for TO DWELL IN DARKNESS, out of which I think I've had three days at home without either travel or a book event. This week I've succumbed to the dreaded travel cold--not surprising, I suppose, considering the number of airplanes flown on and hands shaken. Fortunately I've been tucked up in Annapolis, MD, the last few days with my friend Marcia Talley, doing events in the Baltimore/Annapolis area, so have at least had a little home comfort.

Over the last few weeks I've had some great get-togethers and dinners with friends, but I have to admit that after a long day of traveling or an evening event, there is absolutely nothing so appealing as curling up in jammies in a nice hotel room, watching TV, and getting room service.

Honestly, I will swoon for room service. And it doesn't have to be fancy--a good club sandwich or
bowl of soup (and maybe a glass of wine) will do just fine.

But it occurred to me that I never hear MEN talking about getting room service, so I started wondering if this was a gender thing.  Do women have a deeper desire to be pampered? (Maybe because they have non-stop chores at home?????) Or are women less comfortable eating out alone? (I don't mind that a bit, as it happens.)

That prompted me to start taking an unscientific poll, and so far have found only one woman who said she didn't like room service, and only one man who said he did.

Hmmm... So REDS and readers (dolls AND guys!) do you long to have someone bring you dinner--or breakfast--on a tray, then whisk it all away again? 

(It's the closest I'm ever likely to get to magic...)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Jon Land--Romance with a Bullet

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Welcome to thriller-writer extraordinaire Jon Land! I just saw Jon at the Books in the Basin Literary Festival in Odessa, Texas (that's the Permian Basin, in case you were wondering), and how nice it is to have him here on JRW today! Jon is not only a writer whose output I envy, but a super nice guy. And when he guests on Jungle Red he always has something to say that really gives us reason to think. (And I love  his Caitlin Strong books--can't wait to read the new one!

Here's Jon:


    Why isn’t there more romance in thrillers?  Obviously I’m not talking about those titles shelved under the nebulous heading of “romantic suspense.”  No.  I’m talking about thrillers by the likes of Lee Child, Steve Berry, James Rollins, Brad Thor.  Let’s explore.

    I believe it starts with the fact that the majority of thrillers unfold over a very short period of time—a couple weeks, ten days maybe, often even less.  And that’s not long enough to build anything even remotely resembling Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler of Gone With the Wind fame, leaving us mostly with existing relationships that are used as thinly disguised plot points.  A kidnapped wife or lover, an ex-girl friend who turns out to be a femme fatale. 

In the wonderful suburban terror tales by the likes of the great Harlan Coben and equally great Lisa Gardner, the very nature of love, romance and the integrity of the family find themselves in peril, turned on their ear.  Even that, though, often takes a backseat to the maneuvers and mechanizations of some creepy villain who’s pulling all the strings.

    Beyond that, thrillers are defined by the fact that lots, the whole world or at least country, is often at stake.  And, let’s face it, who has time for romance when you’re racing to save millions of people from some despicable villain’s dastardly plot?  It’s a matter of priorities and as far as the kind of books the best and biggest thriller writers are known for, romance doesn’t necessarily make the list. 

Sure, there are exceptions; Ken Follett’s Eye of the Needle, for example.  David Morrell’s Double Image or The Shimmer come to mind too.  With thrillers pacing is everything and normally that pacing doesn’t allow for the development of a relationship.  But just because the vast majority of thrillers lack traditional romance doesn’t at all mean they aren’t romantic.

    Huh?  What did he say?

    Allow me to elaborate.  Great thrillers, like all great books in general, are about emotion, about making us feel something.  If we don’t have a reason to care, we don’t have a reason, really, to read.  And that reason to care doesn’t have to spring from romance per se.  Thrillers, you see, owe their structure to the western motif, the lone hero standing against the evil land baron to defend the frontier. 

These tales were almost never traditional romances, but they were inherently romantic.  And the protagonists of some of our greatest thrillers today define the nature of the romantic hero perfectly.  Lee Child’s wondrous Jack Reacher, for example.  Reacher never stays in a relationship because he’s always on the move.  His romance is with the great expanse that remains America, traveled in his case mostly by buses and hitchhiking.  Reacher doesn’t have to be that way, he wants to be that way because it defines his nature as the quintessential loner hero in love with the anachronistic notion of owning no more than what he can carry.  The lack of possessions is his greatest possession of all.  Heroes like Reacher exist to defend the innocent and stand up against those who would abuse them.  Theirs is a noble quest and that in itself is inherently romantic in the truest sense of the rugged American mythos that birthed the form of the thriller as birthed in the western.

    Well, what about relationships, you ask?  Good question!  And let’s consult no less of an expert than the brilliant literary critic Leslie Fiedler for the answer.  Fiedler authored one of the premier works of literary criticism in his brilliant Love and Death in the American Novel which postulated that the greatest relationships in American literature are have normally been between two men.  Playing off that western motif again, with a little Huck and Jim tossed in for good measure. 

And we can see that same motif on display clearly in modern thrillers as well.  James Fennimore Cooper’s Natty Bumpo and Chingotchgook became Robert Crais’ Elvis Cole and Joe Pike.  Or Robert Parker’s Hawk and Spencer, Harlan Coben’s Myron Bolitar and Win, the great James Lee Burke’s Dave Robicheaux and Clete Purcell. 

These relationships span generations, highlighted by the conflicted give and take that somehow strengthens the bond between hero and quasi-sidekick instead of fraying it.  Characters just short of life partners who accept each other warts and all while complementing each other’s strengths as well as flaws perfectly.  Hmmmmm, sounds like romance, doesn’t it?

    Okay, so we’ve got the romantic hero and this whole nature of the bromance.  How about one more?  Jimmy Cagney once famously said, “Never do a scene with a kid or a dog.”  Well, thriller writers are expert at mining both for the kind of emotion normally gleaned from traditional romance.  Think about the movie Taken, maybe the simplest story of all time, simple and yet brilliant:  a father who’ll do anything to save his daughter. 

That’s romantic heroism without being romance, because Liam Neeson’s Brian Mills is fighting for something he loves and nothing more.  Steve Berry recently featured Cotton Malone’s sixteen-year-old son in an entry in that terrific series, while in The Innocent David Baldacci turns assassin Will Robie into a runaway teenage girl’s protector.  James Rollins and Grant Blackwood recently went that one better in The Kill Switch that features not just bookdom’s greatest modern day canine hero, but also scenes from that dog’s POV.  No, it’s not romance but it’s emotive; it makes us feel which is the same thing romance does.

    And that’s the point.  Great books, thrillers and otherwise, make us feel something so we’ll respond on an emotional level.  And emotion is not synonymous with romance.  My female Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong is never going to get with her lover Cort Wesley Masters on a full-time basis, no weddings or babies in their future, because in order to be together they need to be separate.  Theirs is a non-traditional romance based on the limitations they’ve accepted in each other, and the maternal instincts Cort Wesley’s teenage sons bring out in Caitlin is emotional gold in my mind.  It defines a relationship at its strongest when those boys, or themselves, are threatened by violence.

    So let’s finish with an example of me practicing what I preach, specifically a simple father-son scene from STRONG DARKNESS that takes place in the elevator of a New York City building between Cort Wesley and Dylan.

He snatched the card from his father’s grasp and angled it in front of a lens higher up on the panel Cort Wesley had taken for a security camera.  As Dylan held the black access card near it, though, the lens glowed blue and the elevator doors closed.  A moment later, the car was in motion, streaking for a floor that shouldn’t have existed with the two of them as the only passengers.
“Those jeans are too tight,” Cort Wesley said suddenly, not exactly sure why.
    “That’s the way they’re supposed to fit.”
    “Well, son, it looks like you already outgrew them from where I’m standing.”  Cort Wesley stole another glance, in spite of Dylan’s caustic stare.  “I can almost tell the last number you dialed on that throwaway cell phone we grabbed down the street.”
    “Oh, man,” the boy muttered, as the elevator continue to zoom upward, making no other stops.
    “I saw your credit card statement.  How is it they cost so much when there’s so little to them?”
    “They don’t cost that much, dad.”
    “That’s because you’re not paying.”
    Dylan gave his father a long look, as if sizing him up.  “You look naked.”
    “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    “You’re not carrying a gun.”

    Now I’d like to hear what YOU think!   How about coming up with your favorite example of a relationship packed with feeling and emotion, but not necessarily romance?  I’ve got a bunch in mind already, so let’s compare notes.

DEBS:  Great excerpt, great question!!! REDS and readers, how about some examples? I'm with Jon--I can think of some great ones right off the bat!

And if you want to know more about the new Caitlin Strong book, here's a peek:

1883:  Texas Ranger William Ray Strong teams up with Judge Roy Bean to track down the Old West’s first serial killer who’s stitching a trail of death along the railroad lines slicing their way through Texas.

The Present:  Fifth Generation Texas Ranger Caitlin Strong finds herself pursuing another serial killer whose methods are eerily similar to the one pursued by her great-grandfather almost a century-and-a-half before.  But that’s just the beginning of the problems confronting Caitlin in her biggest and most dangerous adventure yet, starting off when the son of her reformed outlaw boy friend Cort Wesley Masters is nearly beaten to death while at college.

The trail of that attack at Brown University leads all the way back to Texas and a Chinese high-tech company recently awarded the contract to build the nation’s Fifth Generation wireless network.  Li Zhen, a rare self-made man in China and the company’s founder, counts that as the greatest achievement of his career.  But it’s an achievement that hides the true motivations behind a rise fueled by events dating back to the time of Caitlin’s great-grandfather.  Because the same era that spawned a serial killer who has impossibly resurfaced today also hides the secrets behind Li’s thirst for nothing less than China’s total domination of the United States.

His fiendishly clever plan is backed by all-powerful elements of the Chinese underworld that will stop at nothing to insure its success.  Up against an army at Li’s disposal, Caitlin and Cort Wesley blaze a violent trail across country and continent in search of secrets hidden in the past, but it’s a secret from the present that holds the means to stop their adversary’s plot in its tracks, even as a climactic battle dawns with nothing less than the fate of the U.S. at stake.   Because there’s a darkness coming, and only Caitlin Strong can find the light before it’s too late.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dana Cameron--Mycroft Holmes and Fangborn World

DEBORAH CROMBIE: It is always such a treat to have the multi-talented author Dana Cameron as one of

our guests on JRW. You know you can count on Dana for something fun and interesting, and when I saw the title of today's post I couldn't wait to read it! So without further ado here is Dana on:

Mycroft Holmes, Spies, and My Fangborn World


Recently, our own Hank Phillippi Ryan mentioned my fascination with all things Sherlockian.  Last week, at the Femmes Fatales blog, I wrote about how I came to write my Sherlockian pastiche story, “The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet, ” and the challenges ofcombining Arthur Conan Doyle's world with my Fangborn urban fantasy 'verse.  Today, I write about spies and Sherlock Holmes's (arguably) smarter brother and how they might fit into my Fangborn universe of heroic werewolves, vampires, and oracles.

 Everyone has a favorite Sherlockian character or story, apart from Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, of course.  I personally am most intrigued by the characters that make the biggest impact, but from the shadows.  For me, that means Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother and a titan in both brains and body.  Sherlock describes him to Watson at first as having a position in the British government but later reveals that “occasionally, [Mycroft] is the British government.”  Mycroft is virtually a human computer and and his specialty is “omniscience.”  Recently, I was honored to be a part of the inaugural meeting of the

Diogenes Club of Washington, D.C., a scion society  devoted to Sherlockian pursuits and named for the private club that Mycroft founded (here I'm sporting my club badge)

My interest in Mycroft also stems from my infatuation with spies and spying. It was the glamorized, mythologized fictions that spoke to me first (most of my Barbie dolls were chemists or spies), but it was a paper I did in high school that sealed the deal from the non-fiction point of view when I wrote about the Special Operations Executive.  The SOE was formed at the request of Winston Churchill in 1940 to spy on and sabotage the Axis powers in Europe; the SOE was the foundation of what would eventually become MI6.  Because of their irregular and “ungentlemanly” tactics—commando skills, criminal techniques, and all-around dirty fighting were their preferred methods—and their headquarters in Baker Street, the SOE referred to themselves as the Baker Street Irregulars.

 They took their name from the original Baker Street Irregulars which, you probably know, were the creation of Arthur Conan Doyle.  Sherlock Holmes needed a covert network of spies to aid his investigations through the mazes of 19th-century London.  He paid homeless children for their information and their ability to move about unseen; they were, sadly, all but invisible in the streets of the capital.  Because of these connections—Mycroft's important role as a clearinghouse of information in the government and the children's use of their criminal skills—other fiction writers have suggested that Mycroft was actually the founder of the British Secret Service and that the “M” of James Bond fame refers to his name and was passed down as a title.

 In my short story, “The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet,” I combine the world of Sherlock Holmes and my own Fangborn world of superhero vampires, werewolves, and oracles.  Their own covert activities—secretly fighting evil and protecting humanity—made that a natural avenue for me to explore while writing about Sherlock's Baker Street Irregulars.  

Mycroft's role in the British government made me wonder what Britain's official stance on the Fangborn would be and his “omniscience” made me wonder what he knew about the hidden history of the Fangborn and their powers.  Finding those connections offered me endless fun mashing up these two worlds.

So, Reds and readers:  who is your favorite Sherlockian character?  Favorite story or adaptation for the screen?

Dana Cameron can't help mixing in a little history into her fiction.  Drawing from her expertise in archaeology, Dana's work (including traditional mystery, noir, urban fantasy, thriller, and historical tales) has won multiple Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity Awards and earned an Edgar Award nomination. Her third Fangborn novel, Hellbender, will be published in April 2015 by 47North.  Her most recent Fangborn short story is a Sherlockian pastiche; "The Curious Case of Miss Amelia Vernet" was published in October.  Her story, "The Sun, The Moon, and The Stars," featuring Pam Ravenscroft from Charlaine Harris's acclaimed Sookie Stackhouse mysteries, appears in DEAD BUT NOT FORGOTTEN: Stories from the World of Sookie Stackhouse.   Www.

DEBS: Dana, so jealous of the badge!  But LOVE the idea of Mycroft being the originator of M!! You can certainly imagine that Mycroft in Mark Gatiss's portrayal in Sherlock. As for favorite characters, I think mine would have to be Watson as he is written in the original Conan Doyle stories, and as he's played--very true to form, I think, by Martin Freeman in Sherlock.

REDS and readers, what about you?

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Philosphy Quiz

DEBORAH CROMBIE: (Tales from the Road, Part 1) 

As some of you may know, I've been on tour for TO DWELL IN DARKNESS for a month now (today I'm waving at you from Baltimore,) and while it hasn't exactly been On the Road, it's been fun and I've had some lovely and interesting--and surprising--experiences. Here's one I thought I'd share with you.

If you're a writer on tour in a bigger city and your publisher is very nice to you, you might have a media escort. A media escort picks you up at airports, gets you settled in your hotel, takes you to your book signings and media interviews and generally takes great care of you. Over the years, getting to know my media escorts, and often seeing them on subsequent tours, has been one of the real treats of touring. And on this tour, something unusual happened.

As one of my media escorts delivered me to the airport, she handed me a bound journal and opened it to a blank page, then gave me a pen. "Write down your life philosophy," she said. "Don't think about it for more than a few seconds, and don't look at the other entries before you do it. Just a sentence or two."

I wrote the first thing that came to mind, added the date and signed my name.

Only then was I allowed to look back through the other entries, and some of them were pretty amazing. I'm still thinking about what I wrote and what I read.

So here's my challenge, dear REDS: Write the first thing that comes into your mind. Don't think about it for more than a minute. Don't read anyone else's entries until you've written your own, and I won't add mine until everyone else has chimed in. It will, I think, be very enlightening to see what we come up with, and to challenge our readers to do the same.

LUCY BURDETTE: Work like a fiend and keep learning. Surround yourself with kind, generous, funny people. And fur-coated creatures. Eat what you love but exercise accordingly. Give as much back as you can afford.

RHYS BOWEN: My life philosophy is actually John's family motto. Inter Utrumque tene--steer a middle course. Everything in moderation--that means bacon on Sundays, a little chocolate, one glass of wine. As I've aged I'd add two other thoughts. Take time to smell the roses and only do what gives you joy.

HALLIE EPHRON: My philosophy - Of course you can. And (can I have two?) What goes around comes around.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: You never know. 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Money doesn't matter. Not that it isn't very good to have some. But all my best experiences and most worthwhile decisions have happened when I push the concept of money - getting it, keeping it, spending it - to one side.

DEBS:  So what did I write in the book?  Give what you would like to receive. A version of the Golden Rule, I suppose, and of Hallie's "What goes around, comes around," but so interesting what first pops into our heads.
I don't know that I always live up to my motto, but it's a nice reminder to try. And I LOVE all of our philosophies.  

So, readers, what about you? You'll have read ours, but without too much deliberation, give us yours, in a nutshell, and we'll see what gems you have to share.