10 March 2014

It's Me Again, Margaret

Three events yesterday inspired this post.  

First, I learned that my Monday SleuthSayer co-conspirator, Jan Grape, is sick, and I volunteered to fill in for her today. 

Second, while I considered what to write about, David Edgerley Gates commented on FaceBook that an editor has accepted another of his stories and has no problem with the opening scene being a lap dance but doesn't like the title "Heavy Breathing."
Sorry, David, I could be censored for using the other lap dance illustrations I found.

My mind sometimes bounces around like a ping pong ball, and the thought of heavy breathing immediately brought Ray Stevens's song "It's Me Again, Margaret" to mind.  In it, a young lady receives repeated phone calls--heavy breathing which always begin with a low, "It's Me Again, Margaret."  At the conclusion, the caller is arrested and allowed one phone call from the police station.  You guessed it! He dials the telephone (it's an old song) and whispers, "It's Me Again, Margaret." This led me to YouTube where I revisited that old song.  You can, too.

Warning:  This video will make you laugh if you have a slightly bawdy sense of humor and will appreciate the mention of chickens and Kool Whip and handcuffs.

So, though I occupied this spot just last Monday and your name isn't Margaret, it's me again. I'm back in less than the usual two weeks' time.

Third Event

A Broad Abroad sent me an email with a link:  Grammar to hammer: Horror writers use every trick from aliens to zombies. Lynne Truss chose a talking cat. 

Problem Solved
Lynne Truss
Contrary to what you dear readers may be thinking, my topic today is not lap dances or obscene calls, but our best-selling Eats, Shoots and Leaves author Lynne Truss.

Cat Out of Hell, her first comic-gothic novella, was released February 27, 2014. A Google review describes it as "the mesmerising tale of a cat with nine lives, [sic] and a relationship as ancient as time itself and just as powerful."

I confess I laughed out loud at that comma.  The [sic] is mine. Aren't "a cat with nine lives" and "a relationship" simply compound objects of the preposition "of"? If so, why would there be a comma there?  I personally would be embarrassed and fearful of punctuation errors when speaking of Ms. Truss. If I'm wrong, please correct me.

I warned you that sometimes my mind bounces around, and there it went again. Back to subject:  A Broad Abroad's link is to an interview with Ms. Truss. I won't summarize it in detail, but it's well worth reading.  Of special interest to me is her reference to Steve French's Horror Writing 101: How to Write a Horror Novel.  I wish I'd known about that before I sent my horror effort to my agent. (David Dean, are you familiar with that guide?)

On Ms. Truss's website, she says:

           My big news is that I have written a comic horror
           novella for Random House's Hammer imprint--this
           is my first novel for about fifteen years, and writing
           it did feel like coming home at last.  It's called Cat 
          Out of Hell and published on February 27.  It is also
          a Radio 4 Book at Bedtime for two weeks in March,
          It concerns the mystery of a missing woman, a talking
          cat called Roger, a remote seaside cottage, and a
          nice retired librarian with a dog called Watson.  I
          fell in love with Roger, because he is not only 
          handsome and evil, but terribly, terribly clever.  But,
          of coursed, Watson is the hero because he is a dog."

Jan, I hope you're soon well.  David Edgerley Gates, can't wait to read that story.  A Broad Abroad, thanks for a topic for today. Everyone, I'm ordering Cat Out of Hell and will let you know what I think after reading it.

Until we meet again, take care of… you!


  1. So much brilliance today!

    Congratulations, David. Well done! I look forward to the story. (heh heh heh)

    Fran, I’d never before heard the Margaret song. It’s hilarious! (heh heh heh)

    Lynne Truss’ title is clever, Cat Out of Hell. (I’m imagining Meatloaf singing the theme song for it.) And do you think she’ll smack The Independent for spelling her name wrong under her photo? Yikes!

    Jan, I hope you feel better and Fran (and ABA), thanks for stepping in.

  2. Okay, burning question of the day: Do you suppose there are any under-50 readers out there who would laugh at a comma?

  3. Good post, Fran! I haven't read that guide, but I never take advice, which is why my name is a household word.

  4. We should all have such lively substitutes!
    Congratulations to David and get well soon, Jan

  5. Leigh, another good Ray song is "Staying up with the Dead" or perhaps I just think it's funny because of Callie.

    Liz, are you insinuating that I'm older than fifty? By the way, do you agree with me on that comma?

    David, are you saying you don't read those "how to write" books? I haven't either, but I might look that one up.

    Jan, thanks for calling me "lively." Nobody has said that in years.

  6. I don't think you're wrong to be fearful of punctuation errors--period. But,I also agree that the younger generation sometimes seems to see punctuation within sentences or paragraphs as being roughly akin to decorative bunting hung about the house at a birthday party. It's pretty to look at, but it serves no real purpose other than decoration. At any rate, that's how my kids (and, unfortunately, some of their younger teachers) tend to write.

    Of course, I suppose the Google reviewer might have been alluding to a relationship the cat was not a part of, when he wrote that, in which case the comma belongs, but the sentence would seem a bit ambiguous, if not misdirected imho.

  7. Dixon, that's another great analogy--punctuation as decoration. It's true, too.


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