7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 64)

January 8, 2010 | 69 comments

— 1 —

I used to have all these romantic ideas about cold weather. I realize now, however, that they came from periods in my life when my parents and I lived in cold climates and I had no real responsibilities. I had these vivid associations of winter weather = relaxing next to the fireplace while holding cups of steaming hot chocolate. But now that winter means doing all the stuff I normally have to do, only freezing while doing it, it’s much less romantic.

I know, I know — we’re talking Texas cold, with lows still in the teens. Yesterday my dad sent me a link to an almanac page that showed temperatures for one December when we lived in Bismarck, North Dakota. The high one day was -20 degrees F (-28 C). Because I’m a boring person who enjoys weather chat, I ask: What’s the coldest temperature you’ve seen lately?

— 2 —

A big “thank you!” to Marcel LeJeune who mentioned me in his Top 12 Catholic Bloggers of 2009 list. His blog is one of my favorites, so it was an honor to be included.

— 3 —

I’m amazed at what a difference it’s made to downgrade from our oversized dinner plates to smaller “lunch” plates. Here’s the same scrambled eggs and veggie portion, put on the old plate and then the new plate:

It definitely makes it less tempting to over-eat when your food takes up more space on a plate!

— 4 —

Our refrigerator broke earlier this week. We’re trying to fix it ourselves to save money, so it will be at least a couple more days before we can use it again. I am amazed at how much I’ve learned about myself in this situation. For one thing, I’ve learned that when sloth and gluttony are in competition, sloth always wins. I’ve probably lost five pounds this week because I’d rather just be hungry than go into the cold garage to get something out of the little fridge out there where we’re keeping our fresh food. Honestly, if we could just move our kitchen upstairs, where I’d have to work to get to food, I think I’d be a size 8.

— 5 —

As I get into the second draft of the book, one of the things I recall about my earlier years is that my friends and I could scarcely utter a breath without using profanity. I mean, chatting about the weather would require at least three f-bombs. As I recount conversations from that phase of life, it’s hard to avoid using four-letter words; it would be like writing about New York City construction workers and keeping it clean.

When I first started writing those sections I thought long and hard about whether I should use profanity when recounting dialogue that happened during that time. On the one hand it would be more authentic; on the other hand it would offend some people, and it’s not exactly ideal to throw around four-letter words. As a book nerd, I found the whole “authenticity vs. etiquette” subject fascinating to think about. What are your thoughts on profanity in books? Never? Only if quoting someone who used it? If it fits the book’s style?

— 6 —

Speaking of the book, I’ve been trying to think of a new title. I used used this title generator and plugged in words from a word cloud generated from my 70-page outline. It came up with: A Church Above Biggest Years; Loving for Books; and A Happy God. Back to the drawing board.

— 7 —

I was so touched to the emails I got in response to my mention of our friend in San Antonio in take #6 last week! A few kind souls offered to strike up a correspondence with her since it obviously brightens her days to receive letters. I love this idea! The only problem is that I need to work out the logistics: how to introduce the idea to her, seeing as how she doesn’t even know me very well (“Dear Mrs. X: do you know what a ‘blog’ is?…”), and how to arrange it so that I’m not giving out her home address? Any ideas?


Below is a Mr. Linky list if you’d like to add a link to your own 7 Quick Takes post. (1) Make sure the link you submit is to the URL of your post and not your main blog URL. (2) Include a link back here.

I look forward to reading your posts!

1. Genny @ MyCup2Yours
2. Angie @ Many Little Blessings
3. Julie at Elisharose
4. It Feels Like Chaos
5. violingirl
6. Elizabeth Esther (she who despises cold)
7. Molly @ Just Simply – Pearl’s of Wisdom
8. DebbieQ@stophershesknitting
9. Kerrie @ The Forgotten Kitchen
10. Pharmgirl @ Adventures in Pharm Land
11. Anne Bender
12. Jamie @ A Rough Diamond
13. Dawn Farias @ No Heavy Lifting
14. Lori
15. Jess
16. Mary @ Passionate Perseverance
17. Mary@ Hope Echoes
18. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time
19. Nadja @ Patch O’ Dirt Farm
20. Missy
21. Dymphna @ the Well
22. Sarah @ Keeping Up With The Johnsons
23. Renee @ Count It Pure Joy
24. Young Mom
25. Gae
26. Joy
27. Phyllis @ Life on Windy Ridge
28. Tami @ The Next Step
29. Judy@AThankful Woman’s Book of Blessings
30. Tracy@The Secret of Living
31. Anne @ Undercurrent
32. Aubrey @ Laughing All the Way
33. Adventures in Savings
34. Milehimama (Mama Says)
35. Jocelyne @ Domestic Font Goddess
36. becomewhatyouare
37. (just) Lenae
38. Deanna@Notlukewarm
39. majellamom
40. Barbara C.@Box of Chocolates
41. Jordana @ Curmudgeonry
42. Janet in Toronto
43. Betty Beguiles
44. Rachel
45. Sara @ AShowerOfRoses
46. Lucy The Valiant
47. Sarah @ Fumbling Toward Grace
48. Trena @ The Third Prayer
49. Marie @ Filling My Family
50. Seven Quick takes on resolutions
51. Elena @My Domestic church
52. Scarlett
53. Michelle @ TheDailyChelle
54. Becky @Beck’s Three
55. Holly @ Hollison Journey
56. Erin P @ My Vocations
57. Jessica @ Church Year
58. udubalum mama
59. Esther @ The Mommy Diaries
60. Kim @talklesssaymore
61. Emily J
62. Christine@Good Company
63. The Praying Mom
64. Kacie @ Papua Girl in Dallas
65. Jaime @ UndertheFigTree
66. Sarah @ This Heavenly Life
67. Roxanna@Randomestic Tales
68. Jenny@Lest I Forget
69. Elizabeth Mahlou
70. Herb of Grace
71. Michelle aka Catholic Lady
72. Emily in NC
73. Carrie@SAHM
74. Christina@Mrs. Broccoli Guy
75. Tami@FiveNomads
76. Rachel@Testosterhome
77. Jen @ The Short Years
78. Catherine @ Adventures in Domesticity
79. Gill-Life of a Photographer
80. Lisa @ Dear Mary
81. Laughing Lioness
82. Matt @ St. Blogustine
83. Emily
84. Kathleen@responsibleone
85. Mrs. Bubbles
86. Melanie @ The Wine Dark Sea (pumpkin leek risotto)
87. Therese (Aussie Coffee Shop)
88. Caitie Rose!
89. Bill White
90. Wendy from Zoom

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  1. Genny

    Have a wonderful weekend, Jennifer!

  2. Kerrie

    The plate switch is a great idea! I do think that the eyes are "bigger" than the stomach. great tip!

  3. Anne

    Thanks for hosting 7 quick takes, Jennifer. I never like vulgar language in books. It turns me off. I'd rather hear the narration explain that the conversation was peppered with vulgarities than to have those words repeated.

    Thanks for asking our opinion!

    BTW, last week I left a comment that I would write a post about dryness in prayer. I will be posting it on Saturday. It will also appear on Catholicmom.com. It's called "The Seventh Station" if you still care to check it out.

    God bless!

  4. Emily

    Coldest temp I've ever seen was 20 below, here in Ohio. And yeah, I think I had to go to work that day.
    My car, currently, looks like an igloo. In the next two minutes I'm going to shovel it off and pray very hard to St. Jude that I make it to work before noon.

  5. Jamie

    It has been in the 20s in PA this week and I thing that is frigid. It's hard for me to believe Texas gets that cold, if not colder! Although once you are cold, you are cold. Are there really varying degrees? I mean, it goes from chilly to uncomfortable to PAIN for me. I am not a huge fan of the cold weather!

  6. Dawn Farias

    Congratulations on #2. I agree with 1, 3, and 4. As for the profanity, I wouldn't mind it if it truly contributed to the authenticity. I know what you mean about not being able to remember your 'past' life without it being colored by profanity.

    My temptation, were I in your place, would be figuring out if I was trying to be authentic or trying to recapture a bit of that old attitude/spirit and put it on display. And THAT dilemma would occupy my mind for a long time.

    Thanks for hosting!

  7. happygeek

    A few weeks before Christmas it hit -38C. Plus the windchill on top of that.
    And my hubby has an outside job.
    As a recovering Baptist I can't quite believe I'm going to say this, but go for authentic in your book rather than etiquette. At least in my humble opinion.

  8. Melanie B

    re profanity in books. I used to be firmly of the mind that it was fine in direct quotes if it fit the subject matter; but I find that nowadays I really prefer euphemisms or the time-honored *@#!*. I think because of your mixed audience I'd go for the latter. I think the symbols keep the flavor but won't offend more sensitive readers. Though it's pretty easy to fill in the blank from context, you aren't forcing readers to confront those words.

  9. elizabethe

    Hi there Jen, how touching that people want to write to Mrs. X.

    You handle introductions the way people did it in the 18th and 19th centuries. Have people send you a letter (in an envelope) for Mrs. XX. with their return address on it. You write to her and say, Mrs. XXX I've so enjoyed our Christmas correspondence. I was recounting something you said to me to some friends and they've asked me to recommend them to you to them as correspondents. I've enclosed their letter(s). They hope you will give them a favor of a reply. Your's always, Jen and family.

    I hope this helps you out.

  10. Kathleen@so much to say, so little time

    #5. That's a toughie. I struggle with that too, in writing fiction. I think you have to weigh how important the real "voice" is. If the story you're telling won't ring true–if the characters will sound stilted and caricatured without the language–then maybe you use the newspaper method, with a starting letter and asterisks. At least, that's my initial take.

  11. SursumCorda

    The question of profanity in books came at a good time, as I just finished reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, which I think contains more profanity than any other book I've read. (My review is here.) I realize that reveals just how few modern books there are in my library.

    Much depends on who your intended audience is. I can't tell you how many books and movies I've wanted to recommend to my children/grandchildren/other young relatives but can't due to what is usually (but unwisely) referred to as "adult" content. My gut reaction is that your story is important enough that you want your audience to be as broad and inclusive as possible. I don't mean dumbing it down, or writing on a child's level, by any means. But the authors I respect the most are clever and careful enough to convey their ideas without being explicit and offensive. If you're talking about the weather, an "f-bomb" is just a useless filler anyway. If the profanity is an important part of a person's character or conversation, if nothing else you can fall back on the handy "@#$%&*."

  12. Mary

    It has been to zero overnight here in St Louis. We don't see temperatures this cold very often.

    Thanks for demonstrating the small plates.

  13. Diane

    Coldest temp lately= -29 last week. High for that day was -3.

    As for profanity in books, well, I prefer to avoid it. I think putting a starting letter and a blank is acceptable and less offensive. A person can choose to mentally fill in the blank or just skip over it.

  14. Lenetta @ Nettacow

    Without question I prefer to NOT see the "f" word in print. I'd rather see "eff" "effing" or "f—". This is coming from a married mother of one in my early/mid 30s who used to throw f-bombs on occasion back in the day.

  15. Jeana

    Typically I lean toward authenticity to a certain point–I don't mind a few words but I don't want to be showered with them. Considering your audience is likely to be a lot of Christians who might be offended, in this case I would edit out the words where you can and, if it doesn't make sense without them, us blanks or symbols to replace the word.burbi

  16. Smoochagator

    Sloth does indeed always win over gluttony πŸ˜€

    As for profanity in books – I think the most important question is what your target audience is. If you are speaking to atheists, please, BE AUTHENTIC. They will have zero respect for you if you censor yourself. If your audience is other Christians, tame the language down. If you want to speak to both groups, I would recommend using the profanity whenever you cannot get the point of the conversation across without it. Occasional f-bombs lend a story such as yours a distinctly truthful "flavor;" but holding back will make the story feel stilted and unreal. Just MHO πŸ™‚

  17. Jess

    Jen, I agree with Anne's post above regarding profanity – seeing it in books completely turns me off (especially coming from other Christians.) From what I have read on your blog, I truly believe that you are talented enough to be able to "work around it" and still present an honest account.

    Secondly, I echo Elizabeth's post regarding the letters to Mrs. X.

    It's a good thing that your other readers are so intelligent and quick – otherwise, I would have had to write a much lengthier comment . . . so thank you, ladies! πŸ˜‰

  18. ~ Judy ~

    Thanks for this great meme each week Jennifer!
    Congratulations on being a TOP CATHOLIC BLOGGER!
    I'm right with you on the passing romanticism of cold as we "ahem"…"age"…
    and as for the profanity in books…I say "never"…I believe that one can get a point across without it…it's easy enough for you to share (as you did so nicely in this post) that you used to use profanity without actually using it now…your words and story is still quite authentic.
    We can give readers a "view to the past" without actually reliving it. Just my own thoughts…thanks for letting us share them. You're right…the topic is fascinating. (authenticity vs etiquette.

  19. Dawn

    Well, Jennifer, your beloved Bismarck, ND, is at -32˚ right now. A nice "brisk" morning commute to work. I hate to admit it but when you live with it every year you learn to just adjust, put on more layers and let your car run before heading off to wherever. As I've said before, we are *hardy* folk up in these parts. ; )

    I, personally, really don't like having swear words in the books I read. There are times and situations where it is OK once in a while but several times on every page can make me quickly stop reading the book. If you do use the words in quotes from others, which I can understand, can you at least not have the actual word but use the symbols or say f-bomb for example instead? How do editors/publishers handle that?

    And last, I think your Christmas friend would be just ecstatic to start getting letters from others with no warning. They could just say in their first letter to her that they know her "Christmas letter family" from Texas and wanted to be her pen pal as well. You can count me in on that, by the way! : )

    God bless,

  20. Young Mom

    Its been -30C (-22F) where I live, but when its this cold at least we don't get much snow. The windchill are biting though. I hear you on the working for food, I lost weight after we stopped buying snacks. If I had to actually make something to eat, then I wasn't going to bother unless I really was hungry.

  21. Young Mom

    Oh, and profanity in books doesn't really bother me, as long as its not like every other word or something. And the COLDEST temps I've ever experianced was last January when we had several weeks in a row of almost -40 and windchills in the minus 50's. It is no fun going to the grocery store then let me tell you!

  22. Milehimama

    About profanity in books – I think it depends on your audience. I have an Amy Sedaris book and it doesn't throw me. But YOUR book is aimed at converts/Catholics and will probably be carried in Catholic bookstores, so it would be jarring. I've seen others address this stylisitically – substituting a similar, but totally wacky word instead, for example so the word sticks out, but is unoffensive. Does that make sense? Like "I used to say fu…nyun all the time. A conversation would be "What the funyun is up with this funyuning weather?"

    About your friend – why not write to her and tell her a few of your friends would like to be her penpal?

  23. Aubrey

    Well, it's -7 degrees F here in Nebraska and school has been canceled for the 3rd day in a row due to temps. Actually, I think the first day was a snow day and the next 2 were due to low temps. It's not even supposed to reach 0 today. πŸ™ I'm dead tired of this weather (it's been going on for awhile). On the other hand, it reminds me to be grateful for the warm roof over my head, food in my cupboard, and clothes on my back.

    I don't like profanity in books; it always strikes something in me and is a turn-off. I do have the same story as you from youth, though. We dropped more F bombs in one conversation than I've heard over the last year of my life. I think it's more appropriate, if accuracy is necessary, to replace the actual word with f*** or something similar. It somehow makes it seem less vulgar. That's my two cents!

    We also use small plates regularly. It's good for portion control!

    Have a great weekend! πŸ™‚

  24. Jocelyne

    It has been fairly chilly here lately, hovering around -10C mainly, but has dipped down to about -18C (around 0F), about 10 degrees colder with the wind chill. This is what we refer to as "nose-hair freezing cold". You're right, it's lovely if you can stay in by the fire … not so much if you have errands to run.

  25. Kimberlie

    The coldest temp I ever experienced was the first winter we lived in Wisconsin. It was Jan 2004 and one day I woke up and the temp outside was -35 below. Who knows what the wind chill was. I didn't leave my house for three days until the temperature got back to zero. After that 20 degrees felt like a heat wave. Now we are living back in OK where the ONE benefit is milder winters. Except it is stinkin' -4 degrees today. I'd rather be in Wisconsin if it's gonna be cold.

    As for vulgar language, it doesn't work for me. I recently read the book Julie & Julia before seeing the movie. It was strewn with four letter words and talk about sex, and after about half the book I just threw it out. I didn't think that it advanced the plot at all. Seeing the movie later, I liked it tremendously. It's one of the rare times that I actually liked the movie better than the book.

    I like someone else's suggestion that you clean up the dialog but explain that it was in reality a lot more "colorful." πŸ™‚

    Good luck with the fridge!

  26. bearing

    These are not good quick takes. They mostly deserve their own posts.

    On profanity, I think it can be used effectively or jarringly. I think it takes some skill and discretion. Sometimes its absence or presence is a profound statement (I always think of the novel Lolita, which has horrifyingly obscene content, made all the more chilling by complete absence of explicit or obscene language; and think of the shock – in 1939 – of hearing "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn.") And I do not, actually, think it depends much on your audience whether it is "okay" or not to use it at all.

    You might try to find some examples of writers who use it well, and who use it poorly, and reflect on why it works or doesn't work. In your own writing, your best bet is (if you ask me) to write the scene in several different ways and compare them, with the help of editors and friends who can give you feedback.

  27. Christine

    Hi Jen!

    As a younger reader, I don't mind profanity so much — I'm used to it in literature today. If you want to keep the authenticity of the conversations you had, I wouldn't cut it completely, nor would I go the symbol route (seeing "s#@!" in text looks so unserious — it just makes me think of silly cartoons). Using the starting letter and then hyphens ("F—") seems both more professional, allows the reader to know exactly what to fill in if they so desire, and yet is unoffensive.

    Coldest weather? Probably in the -10s.

  28. AmyRobynne

    I'm in MN and we only briefly had a windchill above zero yesterday — that was the first time since Dec 30th. It's back down today and will stay there until Sunday. I hear it might make it above freezing in a week but I'm not counting on it.

  29. Anonymous

    Hi Jennifer,

    Here is another vote for using asterisks or symbols in place of profanity. That way you can still write authentically, giving the sense of the conversation, but without alienating those of us who find profanity offensive. Milehimama's idea about substituting a wacky word might work too.

    Congratulations on being named a top Catholic blogger!


  30. Allison K

    Re: weather chat

    I live in Edmonton, Alberta. Overnight on the 12th/13th of December, our city recorded the second-coldest temperature on EARTH (of places inhabited by people). -47.6 Celsius. The lowest temperature was some place in Siberia.


  31. Landreneau Family

    I'd just like the recipe for those eggs and veggies! What veggies? I LOVE eggs…and the Saint diet!

  32. Rebecca

    I live in East Texas and it is about 20 degrees right now, which is the coldest it has been since I moved here 6 years ago. It's horrible. I should be tougher given that I am Canadian and all, but I HATE THE COLD. Everyone says to me, "you must like this weather/be used to this weather/etc.," but NO, I moved to Texas FOR A REASON. Can't wait till it turns warmer again.

    As for profanity in books, everyone else seems to be weighing in so I will too. I agree with the commenter who told you not to censor yourself if atheists are part of your target audience… yeah, what she said.

  33. Sarah - Kala

    it hovers in the 70's and up, here in perpetually sunny Honolulu. Please, don't be jealous. It's nice, but the seasons are missed. πŸ˜‰

    As far as the cussing goes, I like the suggestions that you explain the conversation was more salty than you're putting in print, and, or using the suggestion of using the first letter and then blanks to indicate the word w/out it actually being there. Still, I'd rather read a cuss word than graphically detailed sex like we get in most of today's books. I know your book won't have that . . . I think in film it would be nice if they just cut out the graphic stuff, too. I'm no prude, but I am not interested in anyone's private life in that regard.

    I think the generated titles are hilarious, btw.

  34. Jessica

    About swearing in books: profanity bothers me a lot more than vulgarity. I think there's a place for vulgarity in life.

    Honestly, I'd say directly address it, without euphemisms. It might make sense to point out "this is the way I talked", and give an example. And then explain that you're going to leave out the swear words now that you've pointed out that your speech used to be full of them, because you don't think it'll be helpful to repeat it all over again.

    Then you're honest about it, but your readers don't have to read lots and lots of offensive words. I don't know if that would work, but it might be one way to do it.

  35. Jackie

    For the title of your book I think you have it right there "Back to the drawing board"…

    I really enjoy your blog…there is so much of you that reminds me of my sister and I love how real you are and how honest you are about who you are.

    God bless you and your family!

  36. Kelly @ Love Well

    I'm in Minnesota, and I'm getting the biggest kick out of all the cold weather comments on Twitter and FB this week.

    Our low last night was around -20, and our high most days this week was in the single digits. We're around 8 today, with a wind chill of -30.

  37. bronzedshoe

    Love, love, love the smaller lunch plates idea! Also, your title generator results made me laugh out loud. Thanks for the smile!

  38. elizabethe

    Oh, I also meant to say about the vulgarity thing. I am sympathetic to the view that you should depict conversations truthfully. But I am also turned off by lots of vulgarity. For instance, I understand and don't mind that in the military, there is a culture of swearing a lot. But watching a movie or reading a book that tries to accurately depict the military and has non-stop cursing is just not at all appealing to me. I have to say, I used to belong to a cuss a minute group of friends, too.

    If I were you, I would put some very limited number of swear words through the conversation, in the name of accuracy, but not nearly as many as you actually said, in the name of readability.

  39. Robinsonpack

    Just thought I'd give another Edmonton AB shout out. It has been hovering in the -27 range for much of this winter, but the coldest day was -50 with windchill, that was this winter. (I am just outside Edmonton). I have to say, my kids hate the cold, but especially my 2 year old who after minutes will just sit down in her snow suit and not budge. Take me in mommy! Eeeee. I hope that make you feel all warm inside :o)

  40. miller_schloss

    What about calling the book "Conversion Diary"?

  41. Anna

    I second what Elizabethe said, with a variation. Allow people to either snail mail to you or email to you an introductory letter that they've written to your Mrs. X, with their own address on it. Print off any that are emails, and send them to her all together with a note of explanation. That way she can choose to respond (and give out her own address in so doing) to whomever she wants.

    I vote for turning profanity into $#&!. Conveys the authenticity well enough, without subjecting people to the actual profanity.

  42. Michelle

    1 – our actual temp when I got to work this morning was -1.

    2 – How cool! You do have an awesome blog…I'm new to following, but I have been absolutely energized by your story.

    3 – I use the salad plates instead of dinner plates, too.

    4 – your refrigerator broke…our hot water heater broke. Unfortunately, ours was not fixable and we're out $800. *sigh*

    5 – on the profanity…that's a tough dilemma. What if you alluded to the profanity and didn't actually use the words?

    Have a wonderful weekend.

  43. mrsbroccoliguy

    Re: Profanity in books. I understand that it's "appropriate" in certain genres or with certain characters, but for myself I avoid books with profanity because once a word is in my head it's hard to get it back out. (I used to curse a lot as a young teen and I struggle with not cursing when I get mad.) I think it works just as well to say that a character "uttered a profanity" or "cursed under his breath" or something like that.

  44. Maraiya

    #3 – What size is the new plate?

    #5 – I don't know….A Happy God has a certain ring to it.

  45. TRS

    I love the formal suggestion from Elizabethe regarding correspondence with your TX friend. Makes it all the more charming, don't you think?

    The coldest weather I can recall as an adult, was in Iowa about 11 years ago. I've blocked the actual figure from my memory but the temp was below zero with a -20 or -30 windchill. ugh.

    I was working as a news reporter then, and as we tried to string extension cords to the news cars to get them started… one cord after another just snapped from the cold.

    The dashboard in my own car cracked that day!!
    And wouldn't you know, that night I went out with the Salvation Army to cover them delivering food to the poor and homeless – I'm still surprised that the lenses in my camera didn't crack – but mostly I remember parents coming out to the van in bare feet – BARE FEET just to get food. Most of them said they fed the kids already but hadn't eaten themselves because there wasn't enough. If it weren't for the Salvation Army – they wouldn't have eaten that night.

  46. Meredith

    I would leave the language untouched; it would not bother me a bit. After all, it's not gratuitous but a significant part of your "before" story.

    As to #7, Mother Teresa reminded us that loneliness is the greatest poverty of all. Instead of showering a (bewildered?) lady with internet mail, why not encourage others to find the lonely in their own communities? My contact at the nursing home says that while they welcome group visits and cards, her residents are really hungry for personal, intimate relationships with regular visits.

    Anyway, I'm finding that this kind of friendship is a lot harder on my part but more rewarding than my typical drive-by act of charity.

  47. Rachel

    Thanks for hosting this Jen! It was fun to write.

  48. Peter and Nancy

    Ha, ha, ha!!!! I love the book titles that were generated. They remind me of appliance instructions translated (badly) into English — they sort of make sense, but in a very odd way. :o)

    Here's my generated goodbye:
    Big fan sign-off smile time,

  49. Dani

    Nice to another Edmontonian on the list. I was just going to say that the coldest two temps I've experienced was early this December when it dropped to about -72.5 Farenheit and back a few years back in Jasper (the mountains) when it was about the same, if not a bit colder. Both were BRUTAL cold, especially in the mountains.

    There's the fantasy of nice crisp winter fa la la. Then there is the 7 month reality of living in it.

  50. SursumCorda

    The trouble with "f—" is that it's too easy to fill in the blank. I know it could just as easily be "face" or "fact" or "free" but that's not what my mind puts in there. At least "[expletive deleted]" or symbols confuse my mind just enough to let me leave it blank and go on, in much the same way I initially skipped over the unpronounceably long names in The Lord of the Rings. Imagining what might have been said then becomes a matter of active will, not gut reaction.

  51. Starrball

    Re profanity, I usually tolerate it (in moderation) if it fits the tone/style of the book.

    I really enjoyed the generated titles, shows computers are still inferior to humans. πŸ˜‰

  52. Andrea

    Use the profanity! Why sanitize and change who you were? People can see through non-authenticity right away.

  53. ck

    I vote no on the profanity. (and I was also one of those girls who dropped f-bombs as if it were the word "the".)

    It would be funny if you designated substitute words for the profanity. I was confused at another blog when posters kept telling people to mind their own "loving" business!

  54. Andrea


    I would write to your Christmas friend and ask her if she would be interested in having additional correspondents, people who heard about your happy accident and wanted to write her, as well. If she says yes, you might collect the letters first and forward them to her in a larger envelope. Assure her that she is under no obligation to write them all back or choose them as correspondents. If she wants, she can write them in response, sharing her address. You might also be clear in stating that these interested parties would not pressure her to buy Amway, etc.

    I would be mindful of allowing her to maintain her sense of safety and choice in starting new relationships. That said, I think you might be the conduit of grace that both sides might need here.

  55. Matt

    I have to ask….

    Am I the only GUY who ever does this 7 Takes thing?

    Am I the only GUY who links to you, period?

    I suddenly feel like I've stumbled into the ladies underwear department at Sears….*blushing*

  56. ekbell


    I have no particular recommendation for using profanity in quotes from the past, however your question reminded me of my main complaint with 'realistic' stories with lots of profanity.

    Words used in an essentially meaningless fashion just get to me after a while [for example 'smurf']. After a couple of paragraphs of reading such material I want the author to just *stop* inflicting the unfortunate verbal tics of the characters on his or her readers.

    Any convention which clearly states 'this is meaningless' so that I can better ignore it becomes welcome. Even better are works written in such a way that I know of but am not inflicted with the verbal tic in question.

  57. Patterson's Progeny

    Yesterday, or maybe the day before, it was -35 but with windchill was -48. I live in Regina, Saskatchewan. My husband built a skating rink in our backyard and my kids still go out for a half hour or so when it is down to -30 (including windchill). I don't like the cold but at least you can come stay inside and be warm – I think I would have trouble with being too hot if I came to Texas.

  58. Alyssa

    First time poster, though I've been reading you for a while. Anyways, I just had to weigh in re: the profanity thing. I would say a big part of the etiquette vs authenticity thing can also be seen in light of "what is the point you are trying to make?" Basically, if you are recounting a conversation about "those f—– Christians" it would be appropriate (in my mind) to censor out the curse words, as they have no relevance to the discussion at hand. However, if you want to mention that you've noticed you use profanity much less now than you did then, you may want to leave them in, as at that point, the profanity is meaningful.

  59. Jess

    Funny you mentioned plate sizes, I recently bought on ebay an old set of dishes from the 50s called North Star by Salem. They were inexpensive, fun and reminded me of my grandmother's dishes from when I was a kid. We unpacked them and Bob could not believe how small the bowls, cups, saucers and plates are. The serving bowl is the size of the individual bows in our old dish set. It really is easier to eat an actual serving of ice cream in these bowls because it looks full but only holds about a half cup.

    Anyway, I have been telling him that I was going to blog that I'd found the biggest reason we've all been getting bigger over the last 50 years, and I do think plate and bowl sizes have a lot to do with it!

  60. TXMom2B

    I used to curse a lot, and I hate it when it is used gratuitously, as an excuse for bad writing. However, if your book shows a growth in character, and it's clearly written for grown-ups, then some cursing might be OK. I, personally, would keep it to the kind of cursing that (unbelievably) is OK in PG-13 films but not the ones that drive up the rating to an R, and keep it to a bare minimum to make your point. As a reader, I would have a hard time buying it with no cursing, but I would get overwhelmed and irritated if it went any further than absolutely necessary to make your point. I like Anne's idea, too, to just explain it instead of showing it.

    Thanks for posting about the Aggie Catholic blog. I really got a lot out of the Butterfly Circus film he posted on there.

  61. Anonymous

    Well, my teen son and I simply loved the Terry Pratchett book in which a goon character cannot utter a sentence sans profanity — but the twist is that the profanity is always "-ing." So it's a private joke for son & me now to say "ing" when we want to emphasize something in a frivolous way. I mean that literally — we say "ing."

    Why do you care about that little story? I dunno, but maybe you could indicate the authenticity using — type substitutes? I know where you're coming from with that cultural vocabulary issue, and it really would change the whole thing if you just eliminated that aspect of it. Good thing I'm not an aspiring writer with that sentence on my soul LOL.

  62. Debbie

    I really enjoy your blog!

    I think profanity is unnecessary and puts crap and ugliness in front of others for no real reason. (I could've written something other than crap, but you get the point πŸ˜‰ Authenticity? Somehow when watching black and white gangster movies I always understand when I hear a gunshot, someone grabs their stomach and drops, that they've died. Do I need to see blood spurting out of the clothing? Out of their mouth? Pooling on the ground? Do I need to see the dead person lose control of their "faculties?" Just because you had a weakness for foul language (I know I certainly did myself!), doesn't really mean you need to share it verbatim. Were you taking the Lord's name in vain? By writing it and "making" the reader read it does it become an occasion of sin? I don't mean to sound harsh at all, just posing questions to make a point. Hope it's not taken the wrong way. Another point, in my mind, that adding the profanities continues to desensitize us to it and also raises acceptance AND makes that word(s) more readily come to one's mind. (hope that made sense)

    Your writing is phenomenal! I'm sure you can manage without "exact" words.

    Thanks for asking our opinion, and again, please know I do not mean to sound or be harsh.


  63. Debbie

    Oops, sorry, one thing I forgot. You wrote "If it fits the book's style?" and my comment to that is by including profanity you are defining the book's "style."

  64. Jordana

    The difference in the meal on a regular plate versus a small plate is amazing. I've heard that before, but seeing it is much different. Hmmm. Must consider putting all my meals on salad plates.

  65. JoAnna

    The day my daughter was born (January 2005 in Fargo, North Dakota) it was -40 F. That was in the daytime.

    We now live in Arizona, and love it. The three months of hot is a small price to pay for the nine months of gorgeous.

  66. Anonymous

    Learn from the masters: Do the greatest writers use profanity when called for? Did Shakespeare?

    Oh, yes, indeed. The clever writer discerns when it is needed. Your book is not for kids; it's for adults.

    There can't be light without darkness, so I say include the darkness. The problem is when writers use the dark and refuse to recognize it as such, but that's not your particular conundrum. Reality has profanity; write real.


  67. Anonymous

    I'm in Mn and the coldest I have ever seen was -48, this last week we had -33. Everyone talks about windchill but when its below zero it's cold period. When I was growing up there was no such thing as windchill.

  68. TaraS

    Almost a week later and I'm still laughing at the relativity involved in "cold". I live in the warm part of Canada (the southern west coast), and it has been an absolutely balmy +4 to +10 for the past couple of weeks. My husband just had a work trip to Montreal (which was -12), and they all laughed at him for being cold, because apparently THAT is "balmy" in Montreal for this time of year.

  69. Anonymous

    Re the plates; a few years back my dad was wanting a new matched set of plates (over the years the old ones had broken, etc.) but the smaller size (he didn't want a whole set with the large that you could just use the salad ones; he just wanted the smaller ones); mom and I had a hard time finding them then the only ones we could find were Corelle (and not at any of the "nice" stores but at a discount place) but that was why – because you don't want to eat as much on them!

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