March 4th, 2009 @ 9am is the start of this years Cancer Community Center Online Auction.

Never heard of it? Well, you should check it out. They've got something to interest everyone in the auction. There's great jewelry, books and even dining certificates from places like Jameson's Tavern and Brian Boru! There's books and travel and entertainment, as well! But the best part is that that proceeds go to the Cancer Community Center to aid them in their efforts to support those diagnosed with cancer and their families. And that is priceless...
check out their website at and bid to help someone who hurts.

Reaction time...

I had an Aha Moment!

They don't happen all the time, but when they do I look at them as a gift from the Gods. Because usually, if I'm alert enough to pick up on the intention, then there is something very crucial in what it has to offer.

I was rewatching Anthony Bourdain's show, the episode where he and his film crew get caught in Beirut, Lebanon during a time of crisis. If you haven't seen this episode then I suggest you find it and watch it. It's worth it. For anyone is of the same approximate age as myself (and you will have to guess what it is) then you remember the bombing in Beirut and the hostage crisis. If you don't remember it, or you need a refresher... check out the Jimmy Carter Library online.

Tony and his crew were faced with some brutally realistic circumstances as they overlooked the unfolding drama from a hotel patio, high above. They had gone there to film an episode on food and instead, found themselves embroiled in an International incident. As the days wear on and their hopes begin to dwindle, they compare themselves to those living in the middle of the chaos. Tony mentions that for those living in the streets they begin to become resigned, almost numb to what was so close. There is a startling reality in that.

They got some rather ominous words of advice:
Don't do things regularly -- it only makes it easy for you become a target.
At only takes 3 days to plan a kidnapping.
Quick Clot can save you if you get shot in a femoral artery.

There is a scene where Tony is given access to the kitchen to cook a meal.
And it is out of this... that I realized was missing from my story... was that in times of continued chaos and threat, we revert to our most basic functions to give us some sort of normalcy. When everything around us can't be controlled, we revert to controlling that one simple thing that we can.

As suspense writers we are taught to keep the level of tension high. But it's those moments, those scenes that are most humanizing. We are how we react to those situations. We are taught to have characteristics that will endear to our readers. But there is something more... we need to have our readers identify... to see themselves reflected in our story.

Place cards to hang your story on...

We were watching Sweet Home Alabama for about the 10th time when I realized how much place cards play a role in the movie.

Let me explain my definition of a place card. It's an item that runs through the story, usually something funny or odd, that will serve to create a valid point in the motivation and definition of the characters by the end of the story. In Sweet Home Alabama, one of the most significant of the place cards is the cat that shows up throughout the movie. At first we are just amused by it, but then when analyzing it's role we realize that it shows a significant aspect of Melanie's character.

There is a point when the hero tells Melanie's new fiance about the girl he knew as a child who was so worried about a dying cat that she decided to put it out of it's misery by attaching a stick of dynamite to the cats tail. (Please, don't email me and tell me it's wrong or cruel. I'm with you.) But the cat gets away, runs into the bank and the explosion happens in the bank. He also mentions that to this day... the cat is still seen running around town. While the new fiance is horrified by the story, the old husband sees it as her attempt to take care of those things around her. He sees it as a strength of her character and the quirks that made him fall in love with the young Melanie. It shows that no matter how hard she tries to make things right, she usually screws it up somehow. But she always has heart behind it.

There is also the moment in the movie when she goes into the bank and the nervous bank guard spots her. She apologizes for what happened in the past, but he still leaves on break... just in case. By the end of the movie when the cat mysteriously shows up at their wedding reception, we begin to see that by his showing up it means that all is well. They'll get their happy ever after... even if it is wild and sometimes painful.

So, by being spoon fed these place cards, these seemingly insignificant moments that add up to something more... we are given a glimpse of something that we can hang our hearts, story, books, movie... on.

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