Monday, October 26, 2020

How's your acronym IQ?

HALLIE EPHRON: I recently posted on Facebook a snapshot of part of a Walgreens ad emblazoned with BOGO. It was only when I read the trailing words, “...50% off,” that I realized BOGO is an acronym.

I posted the snapshot and wrote, “Duh... and all this time I thought BOGO was a brand name.” 

Turns out I’m not alone. The post generated a ton of comments. 

From my friend Patty Jo: “Me, too! Double DUH!” From Edith Maxwell, “I still don’t know what it is!” From our own “Oh, Kaye” (Kaye Wilkinson Barley): “I can tell you guys were not raised by my momma!” 

 My favorite comment came from Margaret Park Bridges, a talented children’s and mystery author who used to be local and has sadly moved away and works for a high tech company (which shall not be named): “This discussion is so funny to me. Having a job for the past year working with almost exclusively Millennials, I have had to learn a million acronyms just to keep up. OG, YOLO, ICYMI, JK, FOMO, BAE, FWIW...!! I may be the hippest 60-something-year-old I know.” 

 I think I know OG and and FWIW. The others? No clue. 

 So how’s your acronym IQ? Been stumped by any lately? 

JENN McKINLAY: I did know BOGO but only because some helpful store put the definition below their ad a few years ago. The Hooligans are 18 and 19, consequently my vibe is so dope, I’m practically lit (at which point, there is an eye roll and a Hooligan says “Lit is so 2017, Mom.”) 

LOL - I know y’all know that one. 

I’m hip to yours, Hallie - You Only Live Once, Fear of Missing Out, etc. and here’s some new ones - T (gossip), TBH (to be honest) - although, nothing good ever follows that one. And then, of course, there’s GOAT (greatest of all time). 

You don’t want to know how confused I was when the dudes kept calling Tom Brady a goat. mean, I’m “dying”. I’m “dead” (the new slang for LOL). 

RHYS BOWEN: it took me two years to know what POTUS meant! And FLOTUS sounds like something disgusting going down a river. I’ve managed to master BFF, IMHO and even WTF. ( which will not be explained here). 

Are you really concerned that language is going backward to caveman grunts? Writing to hieroglyphics? 

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: I don’t think it’s that new, Rhys - the Romans invented SPQR, after all! 

I use a few acronyms in my conversation (“BTdubs” is a favorite) but I confess, despite having a just-turned 20 year old, I’m still stumped by some of the acronyms I see. I think Twitter has spread them even more than emails had previously, since YKINYK and IIRC take up a lot fewer letters than “Your Kink is not My Kink” (formerly known as chacun son goût) and If I Recall Correctly. 

Fortunately, for all of those well above the age of hipness, there’s the Urban Dictionary, which is a wonderful resource for all sorts of acronyms and expressions. Be forewarned - if you’re faint of heart, the Urban Dictionary is exceedingly blunt. 

 And my mother and Kaye’s must have been soul sisters, because my mom’s favorite phrase in the world, after “70% off clearance,” was BOGOF. 

HANK PHILLPPI RYAN: I love to guess them, KWIM? 

What’s fascinating is that IRL, they are all only used on social media. We never say them out loud, except for LOL. It’s only on line. Amirite? It’s kinda efficient. 

But it’s a new language, for certain places only. I just google them, and don’t worry about it. I know other stuff. (I did have to look up ICYMI.) 

LUCY BURDETTE: I agree so strongly on FLOTUS Rhys--it’s a disgusting nickname and probably why I discouraged John from running for prez LOL. 

If I need a word for a character I’m writing, I definitely turn to Jenn. I had some 20-somethings look at the boat next to Miss Gloria’s in DEATH ON THE MENU, and she advised me to have them saying the houseboat was “lit,” which was cutting edge at the time. 

Funny I thought your boys calling Tom Brady GOAT meant he was an old goat, which face it, he probably is:). 

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Help! It's Urban Dictionary for me. Although I've had to explain BOGO to my hubby.. I spend all my time trying to be current on British slang. But as I have a teenager in my books, I'd better upgrade my acronyms! (And I agree, FLOTUS is disgusting. And POTUS is pretty bad, too.) 

HALLIE: Yes, I agree, anything ending in OTUS should be abandoned.

So what about the rest of you? Are you double-duhing along with Patty Jo or rolling your eyes at our collective cluelessness? I'll be a lot of those young farts don't know this one: TK. It's what writers put in our manuscripts when we haven't clue what to say.  

Sunday, October 25, 2020

What We're Writing...Jenn McKinlay

 Jenn McKinlay: First, let me tell you the winner of Leslie Budewitz's Solace - commenter Pat D! Congratulations, Pat! 

You can reach Leslie here: leslie at drbeans dot come to let her know if you'd like the book or audio version. 

Technically, at the moment, I'm writing a proposal for my next rom-com that is "off the record, on the QT, and very hush-hush" (nod to James Ellroy) for now. There's nothing I can say about it other than it takes place on Martha's Vineyard in July and I am really looking forward to going to the Vineyard next summer (please let the world be normal again) for the research. A hardship, I know.

The next project in the queue is tackling the copyedited manuscript for For Batter or Worse. I have a few weeks to get them done so it's nice to be able to take my time as I go through the manuscript. I've been very fortunate with my copyeditors and I'm not the sort of author who can't have her genius questioned. If a copyeditor doesn't "get me", I try to see why and if there are tweaks necessary to make my words more accessible, I'm happy to make them.

After that, I should have the revisions for Wait For It, the women's fiction rom-com coming out next summer. It's set in Phoenix, my current hometown area, so that was fun to write. Revisions are actually my favorite part of the process as the hard work of getting the words on the page are done and the pruning and reshaping can happen with clearer eyes.

Here's a sneak peek at a section of the proposed cover (just for fun):

Then, it's "back to one" to write Killer Research, the next library lover's mystery set in the fictional town of Briar Creek, CT, due by the end of the year. Oh, wow, it's mid October! I think I just broke into a sweat. 

This is the convergence of projects moment where I tend to have repeated small panic attacks. I have something in every stage of production RIGHT NOW and if I think about it too much I get completely overwhelmed which causes me to become paralyzed and then I spend endless hours on Etsy, shopping for everything from corn scented ear of corn shaped soap to a Ouija board lunch box. I wish I was kidding but I really am a master level at procrastination.

Ear of corn soap!

Ouija Lunchbox!

When I peel myself off Etsy, I try to cut my work down to manageable bites and figure out just what has to be done that day. Some days are amazing and I get more done than I planned and other days are a complete bust, and I am sure I'm doomed. After ten years, I'm getting used to the pitch and roll of this writer's ocean but still.

I get a lot of questions about my time management since I do manage to get things done. I wish I had a simple answer but the truth is I just overcommit and then flail around at the keyboard in a complete flurry of angst until I get the words on the page, the copyedits read, the revisions shaped, and so forth. When my back is to the wall, I turn off the Internet and give the Hub my phone. That usually does the trick. Well, that and snacks.

So, Reds and Readers, do tell? What is your procrastination of choice? How do you kick start yourself when you are literally out of time?


Saturday, October 24, 2020

What We're Writing Week: Julia Adjusts to Advent

JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Like Rhys, I'm also writing a book set in the Christmas season, or, to be more precise, during Advent, the four weeks preceding Christmas. Advent is a rather solemn counterpoint to the orgy of food, lights and decoration that takes place between Thanksgiving and December 25. The nice thing is, if you observe Advent, Christmas lasts from that day until January 6th - and this year, most of us are likely to be home for the whole time to enjoy it.

AT MIDNIGHT COMES THE CRY will not, sadly, have plum pudding, but I am enjoying weaving in the rituals of the season as practiced in a contemporary small American town and in a contemporary small Episcopal church. In today's scene, Russ Van Alstyne (in charge of baby Ethan) bumps into Officer Hadley Knox, whose two kids sing in the St. Alban's children's choir. They sit in a pew with a couple mugs of coffee to watch the rehearsal.

How was Thanksgiving?” 

Knox blew on her coffee. “Quiet. Grandad's sick. I'm hoping it's not the flu.” She looked toward the ceiling, as if asking for strength. “He refused to get his flu shot or the pneumonia shot this fall. Said it's all a con by the pharmaceutical companies.” She shook her head. “He doesn't even have to pay for them, for crying out loud.” 

Considering her grandfather was in his late seventies, diabetic, and had survived a massive heart attack a few years back, Russ could see why she was so frustrated. She took a sip. “How about you? How are you doing? With...” her vague sweeping gesture encompassed him, the baby, and the church. 

Not bad."

Are you,” she sounded hesitant, “job hunting yet?” 

Nope. Thought it would be good to cool off for a bit. Take my bearings and figure out what I really want to do between now and retirement. I started working as an MP when I was what, twenty? Twenty-one? I've been a cop ever since.” 

Do you miss it?” He smiled, showing his eyeteeth. “No more than I'd miss my foot if it were lopped off.” 


She took another drink of coffee. “Ah.” The children in the choir pews began singing. Ethan shifted forward, mouth open, and started crawling up the aisle. Russ figured he didn't need to grab him just yet – the first step up to the altar rail would stop him. “How about you? How are things at work?” What the hell, she brought it up first. 

She see-sawed her hand. “MacAuley's doing fine as interim chief. You know how he is – very organized and methodical. He was always good at scheduling and stuff like that.” That Russ's deputy chief had been less good at personnel and conflict resolution went unsaid. “Eric's back working full time, but we're still shorthanded, and the board of aldermen isn't showing any sign of opening up their pockets for another officer.” 


Russ hummed agreement. “We were understaffed even before Kevin left. I should have replaced him immediately, instead of letting the board get used to a skinnier budget for us. For the department.” Kevin Flynn, the youngest member of the MKPD, had taken a job at the Syracuse Police Department not quite a year ago. Russ could see now, as he hadn't then, that he'd been unconsciously hoping the kid would return to Millers Kill. “You heard anything from him?”

She shook her head. “Nothing. I've left a couple messages on his cell and on Facebook, but...” 

Have you tried calling Syracuse again?” Three weeks ago, he had done just that, to be told Kevin had taken a leave of absence for family business. Except Knox had called the Flynns, and they had no idea where their son was. 

No, I don't want to be stalker-y.” She made a sound of frustration. 

Look, working undercover was hard on him. He's probably taking his bearings and figuring out what he wants to do next.” 

You think so?” Knox sounded dubious. 

Kevin was thrown into the deep end for several months and then got yanked from the investigation before anything was finished. So yeah, I think it's entirely likely he's trying to decide if he wants to continue being a cop, if he wants to go someplace else, if he just wants to stay at home and raise his kid.” Ethan had reached the first wide step up to the altar area and, as predicted, was stumped. 

Knox looked at him sideways. “I don't need to point out Flynn doesn't have any kids, right?” 

You know what I mean.” He took another drink of coffee to avoid sighing like a sad sack. “It's a tough field. People leave for something else all the time.”

Kevin once told me all he ever wanted to do was be a cop. He said he got hired as soon as he turned twenty-one.” 

Russ laughed. “Oh, God, yes. I remember that. He was all arms and legs and red hair, hadn't even finished growing into himself. It was like having an Irish setter puppy running around in the shop. The radar gun was exciting. Traffic duty was exciting. We had a homicide that year and he helped at the scene. I had to tell him to stop grinning and commenting how cool it all was.” 


The kids had paused the song, and Betsy Young was going over their two parts, soprano and treble. 

I can believe it. He'd calmed down a little by the time I came onto the force, but still. Do you see that guy wallowing in some sort of existential crisis about his future?” 

Russ breathed in. “No.” 


JULIA:  Poor Russ, he wants to be moving on, but he certainly seems to be stuck in the job he left (about a month ago in book-time.) Have any of you ever had a job that was hard to leave behind?