March 19, 2007

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Who the heck is Jeanne Munn Bracken... ...and what the heck is she doing here blogging when she should be doing other stuff like meeting a deadline or finally organizing that home office? To begin with, I am the only writer on A Writer's Plot with a day job involving getting dressed and commuting. I have been a reference librarian for a lot of years; contrary to popular thought, this is not a boring job. It is, rather, Sherlockian--I dig up facts for people in the small Boston suburban town of Lincoln, Massachusetts. Luckily, I have loved mystery fiction since picking up a copy of Agatha Christie's Thirteen at Dinner sometime in the late 1950s. (I was obviously a very young reader...) I belong to Sisters in Crime and spend a lot of my vacations at mystery lovers' conventions from Philadelphia to Anchorage. I am also a much-published journalist and writer of nonfiction for adults and young readers. I've been a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (thankfully abbreviated SCBWI) for over 20 years. I am updating my Children with Cancer: A Reference Guide for Parents (Oxford University Press) and I've published curriculum enrichment materials on American history topics used from fourth grade through college. There--the most boring part is behind us. I also laugh a lot and have written funny (mostly) commentary for various newspapers. My latest book is a collection of those essays about family (married 37 years to the same guy) and children (two adult daughters who do not understand the term "empty nest"); a veritable zoo of dogs, cats, hamsters, fish and birds; many memorable vacation trips crammed in balky vehicles; and of course the required house under constant renovation by hired workmen of varying skills and dependability. My most recent claim to fame was being named a New York Times Librarian of the Year in 2005, which apparently led to my being included in Who's Who in America 2007 (yeah, the original one). To steal from the shortest light verse John Ciardi ever sold (originally called "Maid's Day Off") : Jeanne's Blog Day Thurs. Hers!
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I Have Killed Posted by Lorraine It shouldn’t be surprising that a mystery author is guilty of wanton murder. Mind you, it wasn’t premeditated, but it was murder just the same. I’m talking about my houseplants. I’ve always wanted a green thumb. Both my parents can produce flowers and vegetables by barely lifting a finger (okay, hauling 50 lb sacks of manure might help them out a bit). They plant things and they flourish for years. I plant something and it shrivels and dies in days. (Or it’s eaten by bunnies, ground hogs or … something mysterious we haven’t been able to identify. Probably an alien species sent to Earth to thwart my gardening abilities.) Take for instance the once-lovely primrose I’ve had for a little over a month. The day it arrived home it was flourishing with big purple and yellow flowers. Now it looks like this. Did I water it enough? Too much? Mind you, I have had a few successes, but I really can’t take credit for them. I inherited a rubber tree when a friend at work retired. It existed (you can’t call what my plants do “living”) in our dining room until all but four leaves had dropped off. With nothing left to lose, I tossed it out on the deck and forgot about it. It thrived on neglect and natural rain and humidity, thinking it had landed back in its homeland. I bring it in for the winter and it goes back to existing until late spring rolls around and the threat of frost is minimized. Then it goes back to its happy lifestyle for another three to five months (depending on when fall arrives) until I have to bring it in once again. My Christmas cactus never bloomed and looked ill when I tossed it, too, out on the deck last May. This year it’ll bloom twice. (Although this second blooming won’t be as magnificent as last fall’s.) I find it amazing that I haven't killed it since it came in last October. On this first day of spring, I’m hoping the primrose survives. If it makes it, it’ll go outside (I’m having a novena said for it). I’ve also got another cactus that can go out on the deck. So far, it has a much better gardening success rate than me.

Lorraine Bartlett

Five women, five weekdays, many surprises.

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