10 June 2013

Smith's Law

Jan Grapeby Jan Grape
Bet you've never heard of Smith's Law. Well, don't fret. I'm sure you've heard of Murphy's Law? Well, my late husband, Elmer Grape used to claim that Murphy was an optimist. That whatever did go wrong was going to get worse.

So I had my internet tech out last week & got my desktop back online and then sorta got the laptop going also.  Well, it was working; it just takes thirty minutes plus to load. Since computers were working I delayed buying a new laptop. And today is when Murphy's Law kicked in. Things got worse.

This afternoon while trying to get my article written and posted, I cannot get online with either computer. The desktop is totally hopeless. I managed to get online with laptop but after 40 minutes of the cursor spinning it just would NOT open the sleuthsayer website.  So I'm writing this on my phone. Thank goodness I bought a styles thingy last week. I can't  imagine trying to type this much with a fingertip.

And so things won't be a total crying towel, pitiful Patty, I'll give you an idea of what my original article was about.  I've had people say that my policewoman sounds exactly like me. Or that this character or that character is Aunt Whosit or Uncle What's his name. In reality none of that is so. The characters I make up are just that "made up."

If Zoe Barrow sounds like me...it's probably because you give her a Texas accent because I'm from Texas.  Like most writers say, there's a little bit of me in several of my characters. But Zoe is younger, thinner, prettier and braver than me. (I got that one from Sue Grafton about comparing Kinsey to her.)

However, I take bits and pieces of people I know or see to compose a character. I've gone to a mall to people watch. To note gestures, walks, body language.   You may take a trait of Aunt Whosit and marry it with Cousin Whom.  When you do that you do need to be careful they don't recognize themselves. A friend once said she made her mother-in-law into a yippy dog but the MIL never caught it.

Characters are fun to create. But don't just give a list.of hair and eye color. Give us something to their makeup as a person. Thats when characters come to life.

I think this is about all I can type this way . So until next time watch out for Murphy.


  1. Great post, Jan. And so true.

    Good luck with the computers!


  2. Jan, I've felt a kinship with you since we began posting. Now I know we're related because technology sometimes drives me crazy. When it does, I think I'd like to move to a mountain cabin with an old manual typewriter and live my life just writing stories without all the technical advantages we have today. Unfortunately, once I got there,I'd probably be miserable!

  3. God bless you for recovering so quickly from the major trauma of a computer crash. Aaaarrrgghhhh!!!!

    I, too, often think of the old days, when me and my Smith Corona, and later my IBM selectric, loud, awkward, HUGE - but I could fix them myself. Then again, it's a lot easier doing edits on my current beauty. Hang in there.

  4. Jan, there isn't a person over forty who can't identify with your situation. Dirty typewriter keys, smudged carbon paper, balky onionskin and snarled typewriter ribbons pale in comparison with today's problems. The cybergods seem to delight in making life miserable for us oldsters. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank heaven for my 13 year old granddaughter who is my computer problem solver. But she is of no help whatsoever when it comes to typewriters.
    I admire your perserverance.

  5. Good luck with a new machine.
    I always think computers know when one is nervous, frazzled, or on deadline and react accordingly

  6. I'm actually stressing over buying a new computer this week, but can't another "red screen" incident like the one I had to deal with last week.


  7. Those computer gremlins strike again.

    I’ve worked with word processors for so long that I think I’d have trouble using a typewriter. But, I still get frustrate when the gremlins strike as they did over the weekend during a rain storm. Nothing worked, not my computer or my iPad. Once the storm passed, miraculously all returned to normal, if anything can be said to be normal in this digital age.

  8. Computers can stink! But I do love the thoughts on characters.


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