A Slice of Orange


Time: Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

August 15, 2008 by in category Java Plots by marianne h donley tagged as

By Marianne H. Donley
I love clocks. I have wind up analogue clocks that chime every fifteen minutes, a KitKat Clock with red sequined eyes and a moving tail that acts like a pendulum, battery clocks that are boring but accurate, atomic clocks that know when to change to daylight-saving time without me telling them to do so, and, of course, digital clocks on the microwave, cable box and computer screen. With one or two exceptions they all report different times.
It starts in my bedroom where we have matching digital clocks on matching night stands. The old guy’s clock reads ten minutes faster than my clock. He sets it that way on purpose. Every morning when HIS clock says 6:30 and mine says 6:20 he shuts the alarm off BEFORE it rings. Then he goes back to sleep.
I poke him and say, “Time to get up.”
He says, “No, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
I say, “Why do you set it early?”
He says, “So, I can sleep for ten more minutes.”
This makes no sense to me. He knows the clock is ten minutes fast. Why doesn’t he set the clock for the correct time and then set the alarm for ten minutes early? As much as I like math (and I really do–be careful I’ve been know to prove the square root of two is irrational with little provocation!) I don’t want to do arithmetic at 6:20 in the morning. In addition, he is legally blind without his contacts on, no joke. So he can’t even see the clock until he gets up and gets dressed. And, not to belabor the point, he turns the alarm off BEFORE it rings, so why does he even need to set the alarm?
Moving down to the family room we have the mantle clock, an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime, Seth Thomas, my sister, Rosemary, gave to me as an engagement/Christmas present. No matter how many times I set it or fiddle with the +/- lever in the back, it runs about two minutes slow. This doesn’t really bother me. The clock is thirty something and has survived my kids, my nieces and nephews, and now my grand kids trying to see how it works. I figure it’s entitled to be a little slow. This drives the old guy nuts. He complains about it nearly every day which is why I keep fiddling with it.

In the dinning room we have an eight-day, key wind, Westminster Chime that my brother, Michael, made for my son, David’s wedding. We hung the clock when David and his family moved in with us. It doesn’t work because someone (I’m not naming names, but it wasn’t me) set the time by moving the hands counterclockwise. We’ve taken the clock to a variety of clock repair guys who have told us a variety of tall tales as to why it doesn’t work, including one guy who said it needed to be cleaned to the tune of three hundred dollars and one who wanted to replace its expensive movement with a cheap battery operated one.
My KitKat Clock didn’t survive the move from California whole. One of the mover guys misplaced his tail (on purpose I suspect as I had to take the clock off the wall twice and hand it to the guy when he said everything was packed). I hung KitKat in the solarium anyway, and his red sequined eyes still move with the time. But without his tail, he doesn’t have quite the noble bearing he did before. He keeps pretty good time as long as he is perfectly balanced. Dust his pretty face and he’s likely to stop ticking completely until I get the level out. My five-year-old grandson would like the clock to completely disappear because KitKat has scary little eyes. When he visits, I think poor tailless KitKat will have to live in the basement for a while.Now here are two time related tasks for you.

Task One: Go look at an advertisement for clocks or watches. You can use a newspaper or even the Internet. What time is it in most of the ads? Do you have any idea why?Task Two: A Westminster Chime clock, chimes four times at quarter past the hour, eight times at half passed, twelve times at quarter to the hour and sixteen times at the hour PLUS one extra chime for each hour (so at 6 am the clock will chime twenty-two times). How many chimes will that be for this whole year? (I warned you about the math.)

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Get Out of Your Own Way

August 14, 2008 by in category Archives

By Noelle Greene

Ever had that sinking feeling when you’re seated at an event, or God forbid, a play, and you realize it’s an “interactive” experience? The third wall is going down, baby. That’s when I start to squirm. And above all, make no eye contact. The third wall is there for a reason. We like it.

I was eyeing the door within seconds of sitting down at a session at the RWA conference. For some reason, the title “Improv Techniques For Writers” hadn’t clued me in. I realized, too late, we were expected to improvise in front of the group. With a microphone.

You guessed it, the session ended up being a ton of fun. I laughed more in 90 minutes than I did all week. That alone made it worthwhile. The instructor, Denise McInerney, was lovely, relaxed and reassured us that there were no wrong answers. We played games, a la Drew Carey and company in “Whose Line is it Anyway?”

McInerney shows writers how to use comedy improv techniques to loosen up and let ideas flow without self-censorship and fear. And yes, as we played we created a lot of nonsense, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to banish your inner critic.
Interestingly, McInerney, of the Washington, D.C. chapter, presented ideas other seminars at the conference featured, except she didn’t tell, she showed: by letting you feel—viscerally—how to “be in the moment” and take risks when you’re creating. I certainly felt the adrenalin pumping. And realized how fear of looking like an idiot hampers the process. I’m still working on that one. If you’d like to learn more, contact Denise at dmcwriter@aol.com.

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Omigosh, I Think I’m a Cougar!

August 13, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as ,

By Bobbie Cimo

I know I’ve have had more than my share of adolescent crushes when growing up either on actors, teen idols or singers.

By the time I reached my thirties all of those girly crushes were behind me–so I thought, until a young singer came on the scene by the name of Michael Buble. I told myself that I really admired this young man’s singing. The energy he put in his songs reminded me a lot of Bobby Darin. His style was a throw back to the “Rat Pack, let’s be cool ”era. So I know for a fact, if he had been popular when I was in my teens or early twenties, he would have been the devilishly charming, bad boy type that I would have had a crush on.

Because I’m such a fan of big bands, and of the Great American Song book, I always have, either on my computer or my satellite radio, a station that plays the standards. So when Mr. B. first came out, I like to think I discovered him before anyone else did. At least it felt that way, since whenever I asked anyone about him or his music, nobody seemed to know who he was.

By the time his first CD came out, he was doing small concerts, and I made a point to see most of them.. Then one day I got word he was doing a free outdoor concert, right next door to where I work, at The Grove. You know I wasn’t going to miss that. As it turned out, it was one of his best shows…not that I’ve ever seen a bad Michael Buble show.

After his performance, he was escorted a few yards away, over to the third floor of the Barnes & Noble. If you had bought his CD that night, you were given a paper bracelet, which granted permission for you to stand in line to meet him on a one-to-one basis. I figured I was ahead of the game, as I had bought my CD at B&N two weeks earlier, even before I knew there was going to be a concert. Unfortunately, B&N didn’t believe me…they wanted a receipt. One that stated that I had bought the CD that night and at their store. I won’t bore you with all the details, but after much negotiation, Barnes & Noble finally saw things my way and at last I was permitted to stand in line, not only with a different colored paper bracelet than the rest of the people, but with one stipulation. I had to be at the end of the line and every time a new group followed me, with the right colored bracelet, I had to agree to move to the back of the line.

Okay, for anybody who knows me really well…the word patience and Bobbie, just don’t go together. So after being asked to move to the end of the line for the third time…it was now renegotiation time. A settlement was reached, whereas if the manager asked me to move one more time, he wasn’t ever going to see his next birthday.

As I waited in line, I was captured by two things: First, how the buzz of excitement around you can become infectious and secondly, how all the fans in line were so much younger than me.

That‘s when I asked myself, “What the heck was I doing here, acting like a groupie?” But as the line moved, and we snaked around the aisles of books and I got closer to Michael, I saw more and more women my age ahead of me. Some with their daughters, some alone and some even older than me. Which made me realize, that there is no age limit for someone to enjoy good entertainment. Would we have someone in their forties, fifties, or sixties…even seventies, not read one of our books because it was about some twenty or thirty year old hero and heroine? Or think it was silly for a fan to stand in line to have their book signed and tell one of our authors that they loved her/his work? There is no age limit to enjoy someone’s talent–no age limit to receive praise or be given admiration.

Finally my moment with Michael B. was upon me. As I handed over my CD for him to sign and was babbling on about how much I enjoyed him and his work, I suddenly found myself saying, “I feel a little bit like Mrs. Robinson, here.” The next thing I knew, Michael had taken my hand, and began to sing the words of Simon & Garfunkel’s hit song from “The Graduate,” Here’s to you, Mrs. Robinson. Coo coo ca choo, Mrs. Robinson. Then, without any prompting, he leaned into me as a picture was snapped of us together. I heard some oohs and aahs, from the girls standing around us. And I walked away, one happy fan.

To be honest, “Mrs. Robinson” was never one of my favorite songs. But now when I hear it on the radio, I turn up the sound, smile, and inwardly growl like a contented cougar. Grrrrr

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A Writer’s Pursuit…

August 12, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as


by Michele Cwiertny

If you were locked in a tower, a prisoner, what would your message to the world be? Would it be a few short sentences? An ? Graffiti on the wall?

Back in June, I had the opportunity to explore the Tower of London. And in the Beauchamp Tower where many of the prisoners were held, intricately hand-carved inscriptions decorate the walls. They truly became works of art. The poetic words, the intellectual defense, and the design all combined into one message, shows us high-ranking political prisoners stayed there. And judging by the amazing details in the graffiti, some obviously stayed in that tower much longer than others while some prisoners didn’t have a chance to finish their message…because the person was freed, escaped, or put to death.

Did they know back during King Henry VIII’s reign (and earlier) that centuries later people would tour those towers and read those messages?

One entire room inside the tower is etched with inscriptions, but I’m only posting a few pictures so you’ll get an idea of what I’m writing about. I believe you can click the photo to enlarge; it might make it easier to view, if you wish. 🙂

Inscribed by Thomas Peverel

This one floors me, and it doesn’t look like it was finished…

Just in case you can’t read this well…It’s a list of all the inscriptions on the walls and who carved them. That’s quite a few!

It makes me wonder what these prisoners would do in this day and age to get their message out. They’d have the media at their disposal now. What do you think?


Michele Cwiertny writes dark paranormal romance and romantic suspense. To find out more about her, please visit her website, michelecwiertny.com, or her personal blog, Michele’s Writing Corner.

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RWA San Francisco: Video Overview

August 11, 2008 by in category Archives tagged as

by Jina Bacarr

Like many OCC members, I just returned from the RWA conference in San Francisco with so much to share–including the 7 gigs of video I shot while I was there.

Unlike Alfred Hitchcock, who storyboarded his shots, I shot a lot of video knowing I won’t use it all. I never know what will work or what won’t.

Some of what I shot was planned–like following Jane Porter around for a day and shooting video for her podcast (I’d set this up with her ahead of time). When it was time to sit down with Jane and talk about her books, Mrs. Perfect, and Flirting with Forty (a holiday movie for Lifetime this December starring Heather Locklear), I needed a pretty setting with good lighting.

And quiet.

I love RWA conference attendees. When I found a great spot in the downstairs lobby to interview Jane, I noticed several people sitting nearby, chatting. I asked them if they minded us filming a video (which meant no talking). They all agreed and for the next several minutes, Jane kept them spellbound with stories about her life, books, etc. When it was over, she had made several new fans!!

Most of what I shot wasn’t planned: like sitting down next to an Australian gal, Juleigh Start, the Author Liaison for the Australian Romance Readers Convention in February 2009, so we shot a promo for the upcoming conference.

Then there was the unexpected: like attending a workshop that was cancelled and spending the time in the PAN lounge with RWA authors shooting podcasts, including a fun video for my dear friend, Jacqueline Diamond. Jackie gave me a super interview, which I’ll be putting up asap.

And who can forget the Harlequin party at the Four Seasons Hotel? It was nonstop dancing–and yes, I’ve got it all on video.

I always shoot video of the Literacy Signing–it makes me smile to see all those readers and fans lined up to meet their favorite authors.

I got more than a few curious stares when I was shooting video in Italian in the lobby at the hotel (my books have been translated into Italian and I talk with the Italian fans on the Harlequin Italy blog ) and on Market Street. I want to give the Italian readers a view of San Francisco.

And I’ve got video of my Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs fishnet purple tights–they matched my bookcover and were a fun conversation piece.

And so much more…

It’s all coming up!!

Stay tuned…

But first, I’ll be putting up a fab interview I did with our August afternoon speaker, Tod Goldberg. We talked about writing and my fave TV show, Burn Notice (Tod is writing the books based on the series).

See you in September!


Jina Bacarr is the author of The Blonde Geisha , Naughty Paris, Tokyo Rendezvous, a Spice Brief, and Spies, Lies & Naked Thighs, featuring a female Indiana Jones.

Coming in April 2009: Cleopatra’s Perfume, set in Cairo and Berlin during WWII.

Jina says, “What if Casablanca was erotic…”

“Get Caught in the Act!”

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