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Thursday, July 28, 2011

"Source Code": A Disturbing Type of Rape?

Spoiler Alert

Rape: "to seize, take, or carry off by force"

I just watched the movie Source Code. For those who haven't seen it, a nearly-dead soldier is attached to an 8 minute memory of a man who died in a terrorism attack so he can re-live those eight minutes over and over again to try to track down the terrorist. By the end of the film, he stops the attack, saves the victims and continues to live on through this guy's body.

Aside from the plot complications that come with time travel themes (they never can explain away all of the inconsistencies) there's another aspect of this film that I found disturbing. Make that horrifying.

Am I the only one who noticed that, while the hero goes off to enjoy life in another man's body, the man whose body he now inhabits has been shoved out of the picture? That guy has lost the rest of his life to his new "host". He's been taken over and now ceases to exist. The remainder of his life has been seized, taken by this soldier.

I had the same problem with "Lovely Bones". I didn't see the movie, but in the book, Susie Salmon jumps out of heaven, takes over another girl's body, and has sex with the boy she loved when she was alive.

Rape: "any act of sexual intercourse that is forced upon a person".

I can understand feeling gypped if you left this life without ever sharing intimacy with another person. But did anyone care that the girl whose body she took over gave up her virginity without consenting? What if the teenager had wanted to save herself for marriage? I know it's considered a quaint idea, but the point is she didn't have a choice. She wasn't even there for her first sexual experience.

Most movies and books aim for a feel-good ending, and we grown to care about the protagonists, Colter Stevens and Susie Salmon, but does this negate the rights of other characters? Should rights be governed by popularity contests?

It's a horrifying prospect.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Could My Creativity Save the Planet and My Checkbook?

Writers are creative people. There are all those articles about right brain versus left brain, and since I suspect that only half my brain is in use at any one time (and I'm not good at math), I'm hoping that the creative side is hard at work.

I recently decided that creativity might be the answer to a tightening budget and waster's remorse. Every time I toss a rotten head of cabbage, I think of starving families in China who, with just the right combination of spices, could have stretched that crucifer into ten meals.

And why, when I look in my pantry, can't I find anything good to eat? I do all of the grocery shopping. ALL of it. How did I manage to buy so many things I don't like or know what to do with?

A desire to tighten the budget combined with a sermon by Father Mike about waste have inspired me to a new challenge. I'm going to utilize everything in my pantry, freezer, and icebox with a bare minimum of shopping for ancillary items.

Craving a candy bar? I'll find a recipe online that uses that half a bag of walnuts, the scrapings from a jar of peanut butter, and baking chocolate. Milk, eggs, butter and dog food supplies are the exception, and if I run completely out of fruits or veggies, I'm allowed to resupply. Sound fair?

There will be less waste and less garbage going to the dump, so it's good for the planet, too.

I WILL have to overcome a fear of dwindling supplies, since I'm certain that the minute I use the last olive The Big One will come and I'll be forced to eat toothpaste. So be it.

I'm making a one week commitment to see how things go. I know one week isn't that long, but if creativity doesn't extend to my cooking, then one week will seem an eternity.

Monday, July 18, 2011

3 Ways to Healthy? Eat Like My Dog

I make Buster's food. After the commercial dog food scares, I'm committed. (Grinding up euthanised dogs? Really?) That doesn't mean he doesn't get the occassionally crunchy goodness of kibble, but it's really good kibble from manufacturers I trust. And he gets bones. Lots of bones.

My husband has wandered into the kitchen while I've been making Buster's chow and asked me, "What's for dinner?" Yes, it's that good. Ground meat, veggies, grains...It could be a casserole.

I also treat him with fruit or dried chicken strips, and I've made him cookies from ground meat, oatmeal, rice flour, fruit and cheese.

It occurred to me that I worry more about Buster's food intake than I do my own. I never give him cupcakes or candy bars, and I drain the heck out of the ground beef when I use it. While my own butt expands, I'm watching his wasteline. Did you know doggies can get diabeties?

Here's a few adjustments I need to make to my own diet to match Busters.

1. Make it from scratch.

There will be days when I'm pressed for time and grab some processed box of something-or-other for dinner. But I promise myself (and the hubby, who would stand in the kitchen, helpless, if he had to cook his own meals) that I will endeavor to cook from scratch. That means make my own bread for sandwiches, buy cuts of meat to cook and shave for the sandwiches, make any treats from scratch etc.)

This isn't as hard as it sounds because I'm the luckies woman in the world. I have a bread machine. I have a meat slicer. I have the time.

2. Eat more fruit

Buster's after-walk treat is an apple with the core removed. He also loves watermelon, mango, and blueberries. I do love my snacks. While I'll never give up chocolate, I promise to first reach for the fruit bowl.

3. More grains and veggies than meat.

It may surprise you to know that you don't need to feed your dog that much protien unless he's a working dog or she's a lactating or pregnant female. Buster is neither. He also has colitis, which is a nasty thing that is easily cleared up with increased fiber in his diet.

I cut back on the meat in his dog food recipe and increased the veggies. Cured. I promise to balance my meals more towards grains and veggies than yummy, delicious, meat. (Can you tell I'm a devoted carnivore?)

There are more ways I could adjust my diet--eliminate any sugary snacks, give up my glass of wine at night--but I'll try the first few and let you know how it works. We do need our treats! After all, Buster does have his bones.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I have a short story that I wrote ala Women's World:  You get the clue at the end to see if you figured it out. And so I give you "The Mystery of the Nightly Walk". Let me know if you guessed or not. Don't peek!

The Mystery of the Nightly Walk

The old woman with the large-brimmed hat turned the corner and headed up the cul-de-sac, just as she did every other night at nine pm.

“It’s just odd, Jack. That’s all,” I said, pulling the curtains closed. “Sandy and I invited her to come with us on our seven o’clock walk and she turned us down flat.”

My husband didn’t think it was strange. “Maybe she’s not social. Or maybe she's busy at seven. Besides. The only thing the two of you talk about since you've both started dieting is calories. I know I'd be bored with the conversation.” He obviously sympathized with Deloris.

“But she has those men over three times a week, and they aren’t her sons because they don’t look anything like her. They aren't even the same ethnicity.”

“Maybe they’re adopted.”

“And what about the hat? Why is she wearing a hat at night?”

Jack folded his newspaper. “Maybe she’s bald. Or had a bad hair day.”

For the last three weeks, our new neighbor walked the streets of Mountain View Estates every evening at the same time and always wearing the same large-brimmed hat that left her face in shadow.

When she moved in last month, I’d tried to say hello over the rose bushes that divided our backyards, but she ducked her head and went back inside. Maybe she was shy.

She looked like somebody’s grandmother. She dressed her plump figure in polyester outfits and her hands were covered with age spots. But I hadn’t seen any grandkids drop by. The only visitors she had were four middle-aged men who dropped by three times a week after her walk.

“Maybe I’m on edge because of the break-ins.” Several houses had been ransacked while the owners were out. The Petersons had been on vacation, while the Sorge family had only been at the movies. Cathy Sorge was still shaken up, worried what might have happened had they walked out of the awful film as her husband had suggested and returned home early.

“Leave the worrying to the professionals,” Jack joked, and he went upstairs to change out of his uniform having just finished his shift at the Lakewood Police Department.

The next evening, Jack worked late. Right on schedule, Delores came out her front door and headed up the street. This time, I followed at a distance, ready to find out what my neighbor was up to.

The old woman walked at a slow pace, pausing to take in her surroundings. She leaned over a hydrangea bush in front of the Danko house and inhaled, enjoying the sweet sent from the flowers. I followed suit when I got to that spot. Maybe it was my allergies, but I couldn't smell a thing. I looked up and Mrs. Danko stared at me through her living room window. I gave a sheepish wave and she pulled the drapes closed.

Deloris repeated her performance in front of every home, sometimes admiring the bushes, other times stopping to tie her laces or take an irritant out of her shoe.

Feeling like a fool, I picked up my pace and caught up to her.

“Nice evening,” I said.

She started in surprise, Even then, she only nodded a greeting.

“Are your sons stopping over again tonight?” I asked, trying to encourage her to talk.

“Those are friends of mine,” she finally said.

“They must be good friends. They see you every night.” A slight exaggeration. "You must run out of things to talk about."

“We play cards.”

At first she was reluctant to hold up her side of the conversation, but after I congratulated her on having a hobby and told her how thinking games like cards can keep your brain young, she finally opened up.

"Do you play?"

"What? Cards?" I laughed. "I wouldn't know a straight from a whatchamacallit."
“My late husband enjoyed Texas Hold-em. In fact, I always used to joke that Harold looked like the king of hearts. He had the same regal mustache and beard. I’m convinced he thought he was royalty,” she chuckled.

By the time we got to my house, I thanked her for sharing her walk with me. I couldn’t wait to boast of my success to Jack when he got home.

His response was not the one I expected. He kissed me on the forehead and made me promise to stay away from Deloris.

One week later, Jack received an accommodation and Granny Hardcastle and the Hardcastle Gang were behind bars.

“What tipped you off?” I asked after a big kiss of congratulations.

“You did.”


Deloris “Granny” Hardcastle said that she had played cards for years. In fact, her husband resembled the King of Hearts. Someone who plays cards three times a week would know that the King of Hearts is the only king without a beard.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

An Ode to Jerky Pet Parents

Please don’t make me mace your dog

He will not like the yucky fog

I know he’s so well trained and all

Perhaps he didn’t hear you call?

My own dog’s leashed, it is the law

The park sign spells it out, I saw

An ordinance to protect me

From dogs like yours, running free

You say he’s friendly, but I wonder

His teeth are bared, his growl like thunder

He’s getting closer, in my space

There goes the lid from my can of mace

We’ve been attacked three times before,

By saintly dogs (the owners swore)

Dogs so pure they’d never bite

Except for this one little fight

I must protect my dog and I

I must let doggie mace spray fly

I wish you loved your puppy dog

Enough to save him from the fog

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Interview with Author M.M. Gornell, the Queen of Standalone Mysteries

Those who read my blog regularly know that I have favorite authors who I would interview every day if I could without causing them to cross the street if they saw me coming. Many of them should be (in my opinion) household names. Authors such as Marilyn Meredith, J. Michael Orenduff, Kate Carlisle, Mark Schweizer, Hannah Dennison and Jeri Westerson. Then there are my new loves such as L.C. Tyler, sisters K.J. Larsen  . Another favorite is M.M. Gornell, the author of several standalone mysteries, and a master at storytelling and setting. Madeline has agreed to spend some time with me today. (Yipee!)

She is a lifetime lover of mysteries of all types, and her favorite novelist is P. D. James. Besides reading and writing, she is an avid gardener--with a fondness for roses and fruit trees, and a potter particularly interested in the high-fire reduction process. She now lives with her husband and assorted canines in California’s high-desert.

Don't forget to read my review of "Reticence of Ravens" at the end of the interview.

Welcome, Madaline!

In your standalone novels--more than any other novels I've read--it feels as if I've dropped into the middle of someone's world on the first page. I'm certain that these people have a history, just as I'm certain their story will go on as soon as I step out of the picture. How do you pull this off?

Oh Jackie, what kind words! Especially since I think you’re partly talking about character identification. Having characters that “ring true” and quickly take you into their world is one of my major writing goals. There’s probably also a little bit of plot development involved in the “dropped into” experience.

So far, the stories I like to tell involve ordinary people, presented with some extraordinary circumstances or events. Of course, one of those events is a murder! But besides the murder mystery aspect—and I’m not sure on this—but possibly some of what you’re describing is that I like to have a lot of “things” going on. Just like in real life. So, besides the murder, my characters are involved in life-stuff before the murder mystery, and will continue to be involved in that life-stuff once the book is closed.

Could also be I spend a lot of time trying to take the reader inside my characters’ heads. Which is something I really like doing but must struggle to balance with plot movement and action. Fortunately, I have several extremely good editors who help me with pacing. Without them, nothing I’ve ever written would be published.

I also learned from a very good writing coach about POV. Since I use third-person, with multiple POV characters, it took me awhile to figure out how it should go for me. But once I understood how it could apply to my writing style and voice, it has become a big driver. I think seeing the world through character’s eyes, and occasionally letting the reader into their actual thoughts, lets you “know” them better, and transports you into their world quickly. There’s an irony there, in that I’m rather fond of reading novels that have a more omniscient point of view than what I’m striving for.

Location always plays such a large part in your books. In "Reticence of Ravens", it's a portion of the historical Route 66. Do you build your stories around the location? How do you decide on a location for your stories? How much research do you do?

The first excitement and kernel of an idea for each of my books has come from a location that has reached out, grabbed me, and wouldn’t let go. That sounds a bit silly, and it’s not the whole story, but yes, so far, my novels have started because a location said, “Me! Me! Write about me.” From the location, I’ve then wondered who would have lived there, or come that way. What is their story? Or in the case of my first, Uncle Si’s Secret—it was “What a perfect spot for a murder!”

Another key writing goal/challenge for me is to make that location also come alive for the reader. Have them see, taste, smell, etc. what’s unique about this particular spot on earth. Sometimes that’s very hard. On all levels, rewriting is when my story comes together, and finding just the right word, in particular for sensory experiences is very important. I have yet to reread my published novels—I know I’ll want to rewrite, and nitpick at my word choices—especially when it comes to description. And it’s far too late for that!

I can say with certainty, Route 66 has become a huge source of inspiration with “locations” galore begging to be written about. Unfortunately, I’m a slow writer, and there’s a long queue!

You write standalone novels, which means you have to populate each book with new characters. Where do all of these people come from?! And how do you keep from duplicating characters? "Death of a Perfect Man" and "Reticence of Ravens" each have a unique cast.

To say my characters come from the “jumble” in my head is not being flippant. My life experience has been that “stuff” goes in, but doesn’t remain as specific facts (i.e. terrible memory for historical facts, names of books I’ve read, etc.). The best way I can explain it is, bits and pieces out of that conglomerate in my brain, reappear when I write as characters, events, locations, situations, snapshots… All different from what “went in,” but for sure tied-to and based upon my life experiences and events. Currently, there are still many such characters and ideas jostling around in my head, waiting for their moment on paper, so to speak.

On the duplication, I haven’t thought about that, but I’m guessing there probably is some, in that I think everyone is unique, having lived specific lives, but in some ways we’re all the same, and faced with similar challenges—though maybe not as dramatic as in my stories.

And on a not so philosophical level, I really like creating new characters. For me, that’s part of the fun of writing. I can create new worlds, new people, new towns, fit names to characters, and more—every time I start a new book. It’s exciting just thinking about a new book. What great fun!

Do you have a special approach to marketing? I imagine it's more difficult when you don't have a series, but is that true?

I have yet to come up with a marketing-silver-bullet. After two-plus years at this, I’m still trying whatever sounds like a good idea.

I think not having a series—a set of characters readers want more of—might be a hindrance, but I honestly don’t yet know. But in that line of thinking, my imagination has been captured by Route 66, and “Lies of Convenience”—the first in what I’m hoping might be a trilogy, and now in final edits and rewriting—is again in a fictional town on Route 66 in California’s Mojave. So Route 66 is a “branding” of sorts, and might bridge the “series” issue. For me, marketing is still a big challenge—and the path very uncertain. There’s plenty of advice out there, finding what works for me is the trick.

Oddly, I love reading series—P.D. James and Adam Dagliesh are my ideal and inspiration—but what I keep writing are standalones. Even in my current trilogy work-in-progress, though the protagonist remains the same and there is one underlying mystery tying the trilogy together, in each book most of the other characters will be new, with a new mystery to solve.

Do you have any tips or tricks for writers that might make the rewrite process easier?

I love to rewrite, everything comes together then. I’ve come to anticipate with pleasure thoughts and suggestions from my editors. So far me, rewriting is now one of the good parts of writing. But it’s been a “process” getting to that point. I do think every author is different in their writing journey, but for me, some key things are:

I try to forget how it sounds in my mind now that it’s on paper, and try to imagine from outside of me—the picture my words are presenting in the mind of someone who doesn’t know me or my characters. I think editors, critique groups, etc. are good judges of that—better than myself.

I keep looking for the right word, even if it feels like it’s taking forever. And if I can’t find the right word, or phrase—I delete. At first, deleting was hard—easy now—and in retrospect, what I’ve left out has always been for the better.

Rewriting is one of the few times in life I can “take back” what I’ve said. Too many times in my real-world I’ve wished for that “erase” capability.

Let it sit. Then come back.

Thank you, Madeline!

Please visit Madeline on her website and on her blog . Be sure to check out her books, available in both trade paperback form and as e-books on Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Better still, get a signed copy from the author by emailing her at mmgornell@earthlink.net . I noticed that she also offers a deal to book clubs--buy two, get the third free!

Reticence of Ravens

By M.M. Gornell

Hubert James Champion III has a problem, and it’s staring him in the face through blank eyes surrounded by a cherubic face. A former psychologist hiding a dark secret, he thought he could exchange the pressures of helping people for a slow stint as the owner of Joey’s, a small convenience store located in the Mojave Desert. But now a slow-witted woman named LoraLee is sitting on his living room couch, soaked in blood, having allegedly just killed her abusive father.

Though his instincts tell him to stay out of it, Champion is drawn to help solve the crime by more than a desire to protect LoraLee. He’s attracted to Police Chief Audrey Boyes—Mojave County’s Assistant Sherriff. And as the mystery becomes more complex, Champion will have more at stake than just simple curiosity.
Gornell excels at creating worlds that are both believable and enticing. She draws you into the lives of her characters, an admirable feat for an author of standalone mysteries. Yet her character’s stories feel vaguely familiar, as if you already knew them and had been part of the community for years.

You’ll feel the sweat trickling down your back from the hot desert sun and breathe in dust kicked up by an infrequent breeze, because Gornell’s locations are as important to the story as any human character. By the time the mystery is solved, you’ll hate closing the book, because her character’s lives don’t end with the last page.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Am I Writing for You? Take the Test.

One of the things I haven't really thought about is WHO this blog is aimed at. Who are my targeted readers? I understand from recent articles that, unless I give this serious consideration, I'm a mere talking bobble head. Since bobble heads creep me out, I'm going to go against my creed not to label or pigeonhole people and come up with a v-e-r-y sketchy litmus test. Take it if you dare. If you enjoy reading my posts and don't really care whether or not you fall into the "right" category, skip to the end and I'll tell you what's next.

1. Do you like to laugh?

Okay. That's too wide a net. I don't tell dirty jokes, so maybe you like clean humor. I try not to laugh at other's expense, though once in a while when I read something in the news that's too ridiculous, Cynical Jackie rears her head. Let me revise the question.

1a. Are you a basically nice person who likes positive laughter (think Bob Hope or any comedian before 1960) but occasionally slips up and pokes fun at the ridiculous? (And then regrets her self-righteousness afterwards.)

Let's define basically nice. You have manners. You're not the one talking on the cell phone in the restaurant or the elevator. You feel bad for the sales clerk when she has a rude customer. You are capable of peeling paint with your acerbic tongue, but you keep in in check for the good of mankind.

2. Do you see the world as basically good? Or are you a confirmed cynic?

If you're a cynic, I've been there. It's not a fun place to be. I've decided that you get what you look for, and I've seen a lot of good in people since I started looking for it. Even the toads of life have something to offer. Bad is more exciting. That's why I don't watch the news. They stress bad, bad, bad. They could turn a child's birthday party into a special on diabetes. (And probably have.)

3. Are you offended by the term "girls" for grown women?

I think when a man or woman refers to a group of women as "girls", he or she is reaching back into their youthful days when girls and boys reveled in their differences. Boys had clubhouses to which girls were not invited (and no girl I know wanted to break that barrier and talk about buggers (sp?) and farts.) I'm ecstatic when a gentleman (or woman) sees my youthful side. Being called a girl makes me feel sweet. It reminds me that boys and girls are different, and I think the person who says it means it as a compliment. Even if it's clear they don't, that's how I take it.

4. Do you have common sense?

Here's a test. If the man next to you on the bus had an epileptic seizure and grabbed your arm, would you have compassion for him, see if he was alright and then have one heck of a story to share with your friends? Or would you bring charges against him for assault?  (True story. And the judge agreed with the assault charge.)

5. Do you consider housework a necessary act of kindness or enforced slavery?

My hubby's job is at work. Mine is the house. I can be creative about cooking and exercise my business skills over budgeting and shopping for the best price. Every deal I find is a victory. It's my pleasure to keep things nice, cook yummy and nutritious dinners, and make the house a home. I'm not good at all of it, and there are days when I get in the care and drive just to escape, but I consider myself lucky. I have a home. My hubby supports us. I'm free to write. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

While the cynics are saying "You're at home because you don't have skills," they are wrong. I carry a Property and Casualty Insurance License. At one time, I made more than my hubby. Then he generously took on the burden so I could stay home and write. We're much happier at our traditional roles.

(That doesn't mean I expect you to roll around in the dirty laundry, shrieking with ecstasy at the thought of doing another load. That would make you unbalanced.)

These are just a few of the basics I would expect from people who like my writing. How did you do? Great!

Now for what's coming up. I'm excited to have an interview ready for M.M. Gornell. She's the fabulous author of standalone mysteries. I have to write my review of her latest book and then I'll get the post up. Until then, I applaud you for being you, whether or not you agreed with me!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Was Viral Email Momzilla Wrong?

Mothers are a species known for protecting their young. We even relate thier actions to those of dangerous animals--"like a lioness protecting her cubs" or "a mother tiger". I can only assume that a desire to help her stepson is what prompted the viral email titled "Your lack of manners". Read the whole thing here . I'll wait.

Are you back? Great. Now that you've read the email, you can weigh in fully informed.

One of my characters, Edward Harlow, secretly writes the "Aunt Civility" column, and he would be the first to explain that the purpose of civil behavior is to make other people comfortable.   Mother-in-law Mrs. Bourne missed the mark by sending the email, however helpfully she meant it, though she made some personal attacks in it that negate the helpful qualities she might have intended.

Checkmark number one against Mrs. Bourne.

Following are the offenses listed in the email. Let's see if Daughter-In-Law crossed the line.

1. Telling your host what you will and will not eat.

My understanding is that the D-I-L-to-be is diabetic. Here is where the son dropped the ball. It was his responsibility to convey to his mother any considerations that needed to be taken with planning the meals. Same thing applies if the love of his life was allergic to something, a former alcoholic etc. Also, diabetics need to avoid overdoing the sugars and starches, but there must certainly have been something on the table she could have munched on.

Just because she can't dive into a sweet pie or load up on the pasta sidedish doesn't mean that the entire household must forgo these items. If dinner included these items, she could have simply explained to her problem to her future M-I-L who would probably have invited her to help herself to more salad or veggies or protien.

Here is great suggestion from Miss Manners on how to deal with different dietary needs.

Half a checkmark against Momzilla on behalf of her son for not alerting her to the problem, half against DIL for bringing up a list.

2. Do not remark that you don't have enough food.

I'll have to go with Momzilla on this one. If DIL's blood sugar was dropping, she could have explained and I'm betting that Momzilla would have gotten her something to eat. Simply whining about the inadequacy of the meal is rude.

Checkmark against DIL.

3. You do not start before anyone else.

Easy-peasy. That's bad manners. Unless you're given permission by the other diners. I regularly tell people whose order comes up before mine to please eat it before it gets cold.

Checkmark against DIL.

4. You do not help yourself to seconds without asking.

Right-o. You don't know your hostess's plans. Maybe those leftovers were going to be breakfast or lunch the next day. I can't see a polite way to ask for seconds. A sharp hostess would have offered, if possible.

Checkmark against DIL.

5. You do not lie in bed all morning in a household that rises early.

Again, spot on. If you consider your visit a time to catch up on your sleep, stay in a hotel. That's what they're for. My father will tell guests, "Feel free to sleep in." That's a different story. Of course, he also plans activities and alerts his guests to what time they start so that you're not still in your pajamas five minutes before the group leaves for the Botanical Gardens.

Checkmark against DIL.

6. You should never insult the family you are about to join and most definitely not in public.

I'm starting to think that the DIL never intended to get along with her in-laws.  These people are her beloved's family. Why on earth would she insult them? That's like insulting her fiance. The only person who gets away with insults is Don Rickles.

BIG checkmark against DIL.

7. You shouldn't draw attention to yourself.

Taken literally, this is true, but without knowing the circumstances, it's hard to tell. Maybe the DIL has a loud laugh. From the context, it sounds like the DIL may be suffering from Bridezilla disease. Here's what Miss Manners has to say about people who talk about themselves all the time.

Checkmark against DIL.

8. To paraphrase, you should have a wedding that is within your means.

This is a big yes! So many brides are hung up on the wedding--not the ceremony where they join together with their mate, but the party stuff like the reception and shower. I knew of a young woman who didn't have a penny to her name, nor did her family. However, she insisted on a lavish wedding, just like her wealthy friends experienced. The in-laws wound up paying for most of it. About two years later, she decided she didn't love her husband. As a man, I would be nervous about any bride-to-be that was wrapped up in the perfect wedding. It's not about the day, it's about the lifetime committment.

Surprisingly enough, this is a checkmark against Momzilla. She can simply refuse to pay for the wedding. While it's unwise to go into debt over a celebration, and it bodes poorly for the marraige, Momzilla shouldn't have said anything unless asked.

That's two and one half checkmarks against Momzilla and seven and one half against her DIL. But how did the DIL get this way? I see families that dote on their children to the extent that they forego their parental role as teacher. Since we don't see manners taught in school, it's up to the parents to show their children what constitutes good behavior.

DIL sounds like a spoiled, unrealistic, silly girl, and Momzilla sounds like she lacks flexibility and has control issues. Can they still make a happy extended family? If they sat down and hashed it out, maybe. Since DIL forwarded the email instead of considering if Momzilla had any valid points, probably not.

Want to make sure your manners are beyond question? Miss Manners Judith has a website, and she also has several books available.