August 10, 2014

Living For The Sign

I love my house. It’s big and it’s rambling and it’s taken us ten years to get it from the Graceland-Meets-The-Brady-Bunch mishmash of gold shag carpeting and avocado green appliances to what it is today: a comfortable and inviting place where we love to invite our friends. My bathtub is deep enough that I’m able to soak away the day’s stress by sitting in warm scented water up to my shoulders. My office has floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on a cluster of oak trees that were here before Madison was chartered as a city. And my sweetheart, in a Valentine’s gift he’ll never be able to top, transformed a seldom-used room next to our bedroom into a closet so large I feel like I’m shopping daily in a boutique where everything is just my size. Every moment here my eyes settle on something that conjures a memory. So why is there a For Sale sign in the middle of our yard?

It started about a month ago. My sweetheart took advantage of a lovely sunny day and drove his little red sports car out into the country while I stayed busy with a full slate of patients. He spotted a small cabin for sale on a charming lake about twenty miles east of Madison and, in a story too long to relate here, found a realtor who showed him around. I came home that night to his excited description and urges that I go take a look. When he told me it was 1,100 square feet I balked. I  mean, I like the concept of downsizing as much as the next guy…but how did he expect two adults and two rambunctious pooches to cohabit happily in a third of the space we currently occupied? But you don’t get to be as happily married as I am without throwing a bone every now and then. I agreed to go see the place the next weekend. I figured I’d give the place a ten minute once over, let Sweetheart see the error of his ways, and then suggest he atone by buying me a hot fudge sundae.

Off we went on one of those days that makes you believe Wisconsin In Summer is a rough draft of heaven. We drove with the ragtop down through rolling hills of corn and soybeans gleaming delicious green against an electric blue sky. Our bodies eased into bliss as the sun warmed the muscles in our shoulders while Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty belted out their anthems to the spirit of the American prairie. Sweetheart slowed the car as we drove through the tiny village of Cambridge, past the house we purchased when we got our first real jobs after doctor school and thought it would be romantic to renovate a Victorian. (Don’t worry…we’ve snapped to our senses since THAT exercise in money burning.) He steered down a twisty country lane, came to a stop behind a small structure, and announced we were here.  I smiled and headed to the front door, eager to get this over so I could dig in to my ice cream.

And then it happened. I cleared the side of the house and saw the front yard. An emerald carpet of soft lawn sloped down from large patio at the top of the hill on which I stood and ended at the water’s edge. Lake Ripley showed off her silver sparkles as the sun shimmered overhead. Tall pine trees punctuated the scene, seemingly placed in the exact spots that would deem them perfect. Children dove off docks and raced each other to floating platforms off shore. An elderly couple tooled by in a golf cart and threw us a friendly wave. Two bald eagles flew high above the maple trees surrounding the little cabin.  A fire pit on the patio promised long starlit conversations while fireflies flittered by. I turned to my husband and said, “If this place has an inside, we’re buying it.”

Which explains the For Sale sign in our yard and the bane of my existence these days. We live for that sign. It dictates our days in a way children, doctor school, or even the laws of the land never could. When your house is on the market, you gotta live clean. And when I say “clean”, I mean “get it ready for a photo shoot and eliminate any trace that actual  humans live here” clean. Did you just brush your teeth? Well, don’t think you’re done after the rinse-and-spit. Now you have to hide your toothbrush, scour the sink, and grab the Windex to give the entire counter a new shine. Is the dog enjoying a lazy nap on the sofa? Be sure you’re plumping up the pillows the moment he waddles off. Don’t just make your bed as you rush out in the morning. Pull and tug and smooth until any Marine drill instructor worth the stripes could bounce a quarter off the coverlet.

Meals are planned in honor of the For Sale sign. “No, we can’t have salmon tonight. There’s a showing tomorrow morning and we don’t want the house smelling like a fishing wharf. But how about I bake us a nice peach pie? That oughta smell the place up good.” Activities are planned within a ten mile radius so that we can get home fast  for one last manic inspection should we get a call that somebody wants a tour. Ever do an open house when you two dogs live with you? We’re getting real friendly with every restaurant with an outdoor seating area and the pooches have eaten way too many hot dogs and burgers than is good for them.

Conversations between Sweetie and me have changed. We don’t talk about movies or books or politics these days. We talk marketing strategies, price-per-square-foot, and housing comps. I find myself pouring over the real estate section in the Sunday paper and wondering why our house has been on the market for nearly three weeks and we’ve only had one offer; an offer so far below our asking price we wondered if they were serious. Every potential buyer who’s toured has raved about our house…and yet no real offers…and the sign still runs our lives.

I choose to live in hope. “We only need one buyer” has become my mantra. I fight against the eagerness to dip my toes into Lake Ripley while sitting on our very own dock. It will happen, won’t it? It will, right?

But so far The Sign has no answers for me. It just stands there, urging me not to forget to dust my fingerprints off the computer when I’m done here.

April 26, 2014

What Do You Do For A Living?

I went to the opera this weekend. I saw “Dead Man Walking”, the story of a nun’s relationship with a death row inmate. While it may sound like gloom and doom, it’s actually a tale of love, forgiveness, and redemption. As a writer, I’m always interested in words…and the words in this story cut to the gut faster than any double-edged knife. Put to music and sung with the mastery of virtuosos, I found myself transcended. Lifted high into hope and glory. Hurled into black tar pits of despair. Dwarfed by the enormity of what it means to be human. And like any genius performance, the opera’s themes are invading my thoughts long after leaving the concert hall.

I’m a clinical psychologist. That’s what I tell people when they ask what I do for a living. I’m also a novelist; a spinner of tales murderous and twisted. Some of us are plumbers. Others are teachers or web designers or retail clerks. I know a man who earns his wages shoeing horses. I always smile when I see him, happy there’s enough work to keep him busy. I don’t smile knowing there’s enough work to keep thousands of child protective agents hopping, but there you have it. Most of us have a pat response when someone asks how we earn our keep. But is telling someone our job title the best way to answer that question?

What do you do for a living? The verb there is “do”. The object is “living”. Do…Living…Do…Living. Seeing patients is how I earn my money. Don’t get me wrong. I am blessed with meaningful work and I perform it alongside wonderfully gifted colleagues. I am grateful for the opportunity.  But is that what I do for my living?

Like everyone, I suppose, I’ll wake up briefly while I’m sleeping. I often discover that my and my husband’s hands have somehow found themselves in our slumber and our fingers are intertwined. I drift back to sleep, but I note the luscious moment of tenderness and am grateful that his hand is there. That’s what I do for my living. Most Wednesday afternoons I scoot out of work early and head to a local café to meet a group of women who are as dear as breath to me. We share the victories and challenges of the past week. Our numbers vary, depending upon how life intrudes on our best intentions, but I always know there’s going to be a few of us at “our” table and I always leave refreshed and re-connected. That’s what I do for my living. I’m attending the confirmation of a friend next Sunday. In her middle age she’ll be making that profound commitment to her spiritual journey and I’m honored to have been asked to share the moment. We’ll  have brunch with special ladies afterward and muse on things ranging from the profane to the sacred; all the while noting and rating the food and building yet another memory for the four of us. That’s what I do for my living.

I play with my dogs. I dance to old Motown tunes. I get the itch to buy a new dress when the earth thaws enough to let the daffodils peek out…something bright that I can wear with strappy sandals. I smile when I see it’s my sister or one of my kids calling. I try new recipes and I argue politics. I test my husband’s patience with remodeling ideas and curl up with him to watch that television show we both enjoy. I read. I plan our next vacation, always based around what new adventure might be waiting. I keep my bucket list up-to-date; adding two news things for each experience I cross off. I stand in front of paintings and marvel at the brush strokes and the perspective and the use of light. I go to plays, and concerts. I count the days until University of Wisconsin football and basketball seasons start. I grow misty listening to Christmas carols. That and a thousand other seemingly little things is what I do for my living.

I think of the character in the opera I just saw. What will that dead man walking miss most? My hunch is it won’t be any of the jobs he may have held before he was imprisoned. The same will be true for me. My job is my job…a way to bankroll my life. Wearing plaid and making a pot of chili on that first crisp Saturday in autumn? The feel of fresh sheets and the smell of lilacs? Yeah, I’ll miss those far more than any complex case conceptualization, no matter how successful it might be.

How about you? Tell me, dear reader, what it is that you do for your living.

March 30, 2014

What’s in a name?

I love being an author. Thank you, Random House for picking me up when I stuck out my thumb looking to hitch a ride. I love everything about the gig. When I meet with fellow story tellers and hear complaints about writer’s block or an abandonment by their muse, I’m afraid I can’t relate. There’s always some plot cooking in my head…some character just itching to tell me their side of things. I even enjoy the revising and editing process: putting my work out there to beta readers and manuscript editors to tear apart. There is, however, one part of writing that drives me nuts. A chink in my literary armor. A thorn in my fabulist side.

Names.

I can’t do ’em. At least not well.  Run me through an x-ray. Like Adam’s rib, you’ll find I’m missing the naming bone.

Names are important. They speak volumes about the character without much ink. Cruella DeVille and Gordon Gecko could never be thought of as romantic dreamers, could they? Before you were exposed to the earliest expositional hint of their characters you knew they were up to no good. Tess Trueheart is someone you’d trust babysitting your new puppy without checking references, right? Names are one of the most valuable tools an author has…and it’s missing from my belt.

When I was writing The Fixer I sat my sweetie down and told him I needed a name for the lead detective. I wanted it to be one strong syllable. I needed all the grit and steel of secure masculinity to punch the reader in the gut . Without hesitation he said, “Mort”. Of course he was swigging Diet Coke at the time. I’ll never know if Mort was born of consideration or a quick burp, but I liked it and Mort Grant became one of my favorite characters. Flash forward to an early book signing. The erudite woman introducing me very graciously raved about the book. She gushed about how darkly human the  story  was…so imbued with the ever-present existential threat. “Even the detective’s name, ‘Mort’, signals that death is ever with us,” she said. I smiled. I’m not that deep, I thought.

I just have a tough time with names.

When I gave the first draft of The Fixer to my agent, she asked me if I’d been frightened by the letter M as a child. It seems that nearly two-thirds of my characters had names that began with M and I hadn’t even noticed it. In addition to Mort, I had Meaghan and Michael and Monica and Marie. There were lesser characters names Margie and Millie. One of the dogs was named Mitzi. She warned of reader confusion. That’s when I discovered the genius of Words’ search-and-replace.

I name characters after family and friends. I always  have to be careful of who I kill off. I want neither bad mojo nor irate phone calls from some cousin wondering what she did to deserve being stabbed in the eye by a serial killer. I keep the Sunday obituary pages on file. I’ll grab the first name of one person and combine it with the last name of another. I don’t mean to offend. I like to think of it as a little immortality for the dearly departed.

Names take on personalities based on my experiences with identically named people. Any character I name Barbie will always have to be bright and warm and extremely dear because that’s the essence of the Barbie I know. Any Joe in my book will always be intelligent and kind. Likewise, I’ll never, ever name a character Karen or Melinda or Melissa (hmmm…more M’s!). Those names have cost me too much.

So help me out, dear reader. I need names. For heroes and for bad guys. For victims and for bystanders. Tell me what names will always bring a smile to your face and which ones will always make you cringe.

You know what I’m talking about. Romeo and Brunhilda just doesn’t work, does it?

March 9, 2014

You’d Have To Be Crazy

Unless you’ve been on a media diet for the past five months, you know all about the wicked winter we’re experiencing here on America’s North Coast. The Upper Midwest, normally a wonderland in winter with horse-drawn sleighs, pick-up hockey games on neighborhood ponds, and rosy-cheeked patrons kicking  snow off  boots as they greet friends and sip cocoa at the corner coffee shop, has been pummeled this year by every punch those grinches at the North Pole have in their skills set. Words like “polar vortex” and “arctic blast” have become part of the daily conversation. Double digit below zero temperatures are the norm, and the wind stabs and slices with a shrieking ferocity that urges every Wisconsinite to reconsider a fire and brimstone hell. White-out blizzards with razor-sharp ice seems a more fitting punishment for the eternally damned.

I tried to enjoy it at first. There’s something quite thrilling about sitting next to a fire while the winds howl. I wore plaid and ate chili. I read and did jigsaw puzzles. But how much can one woman take? I grew weary. I, like most of the snow-bound denizens of the Badger State, needed a vacation. I dreamed of sandy beaches, gentle jasmine breezes, and cool drinks with paper umbrellas. Pack me up and point me south. Alas, that guy I’m crazy about had different ideas. “Let’s go dog-sledding”, he said.

“You want to go further north?” I asked after I stopped choking. “You want to head into the belly of this beast?” He reminded me the ice caves on Lake Superior were accessible this year. He promised it would be fun.

This is the guy who asks for nothing. This is the guy who took me to Paris for my birthday four months ago. I smiled, nodded, and tried to calculate how many layers of clothing I could wear while still retaining my ability to bend at the knees. I called his sister. She was up for it. Sure she was. She was raised in Southern California and currently lives in temperate Portland, Oregon. What concept did she have about the need to smear Vasoline on every square inch of exposed skin to avoid frostbite? Common sense be damned! That last week in February Kim flew out with suitcases loaded with everything REI could sell her. We loaded up the SUV and headed north on the heels of a screeching blizzard to Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Bayfield is my favorite spot on the planet…and I’ve been to a lot of spots. It’s a small town filled with kind-hearted folks wanting a simpler life close to nature. Accessible only after driving through the Chequamegon National forest, Bayfield hugs the shores of Lake Superior and is the jump-off point to The Apostle Islands. I once read John F. Kennedy, Jr. also claimed this tiny town as his favorite. Good taste, John-John. In the summer we kayak and hike. In the winter we enjoy the snow-covered quiet. I had never been to Bayfield in a polar vortex. We spent the first day there trudging from the condo to the only sporting goods store in town, where we bought even more gear.

Dog-sledding was our first adventure. We woke early and started dressing. That took nearly an hour. The car’s thermometer read -15 and I wondered why it didn’t come equipped with a robotic voice yelling at us to get back inside. We drove deep into the woods, arrived at the base kennel, and I was immediately handed a pair of mammoth footwear by the lead musher.  “There’s going to be a lot of wind today. You’ll be very cold. Put them on over your boots.”

Boots for my boots? I looked to my man. There was probably still time to catch a flight to Bermuda. But he and Kim were smiling and ready. What we do for love, huh?

So we headed out to the dog yard, picked and harnessed our teams, and climbed onto our sleds. The noise! Scores of dogs yapping and yelling in gleeful anticipation. Our lead mushers hollered warnings to stay on the trail, even if we dumped our sleds. “Step off and you’ll be shoulder deep in snow.” With a three-two-one countdown our sleds were released from their moorings and the screeching and howling dogs fell silent. In an instant all I heard was their panting, the slicing of the sled’s runners through the deep snow, and the whistle of the wind. I held on. The dogs knew what to do. They carried me through forests of naked spruce and lush evergreens. Up hill, the lead dogs looked back at me, urging me to help them out with a kick. Down hill, I stepped on the drag, reminding the dogs they had a rookie driving. The electric blue sky, the endless white of the snowfields, the scent of the pine. My mind knew it was sub-zero with a bone-crushing wind chill. My heart never wanted to leave this heaven.  Three hours later we were back at base, feeding and loving the dogs who had given us such an experience. Meeting the new puppies. Promising to come back next year.

We had dinner at Maggie’s, a restaurant decorated with enough pink flamingos and twinkling lights to make you think you’re in Key West. At one point Kim nodded toward the window. Wrist-thick icicles hung from the eaves as snow whirled in the black night while we warmed our bellies with thick chowder and the best beans and rice north of Nogales. Sleep came early and easy.

Dressing for the ice caves demanded another morning of heaping layer upon layer.  We grabbed our poles, secured cleats to our boots, and stepped out onto the frozen tundra of Lake Superior. It was more than a mile to where the caves began and we hiked over waters so familiar to us by kayak, now a foreign world of blinding white. We were again in sub-zero temperatures with a biting wind, but I soon found my rhythm on the endless ocean of ice and settled into a brisk pace. I was careful to keep my mouth closed. My lungs needed the brief warming the air got travelling from my nose. My eyes watered in the wind and my tears froze to my cheeks. It felt great. I picked up speed, knowing the cleats would steady me. The caves were coming into view and I realized I was seeing something remarkable and rare. I pulled out my camera at the first massive ice formation and slipped out of my double gloves. I learned I could snap photos in rapid succession for about a minute before my finger would cease bending. I’d shove my hand back into my gloves, squeeze the chemical hand warmer I’d hidden inside, and focus on the blood warming again.

We’ve been back home for a week now. The snow is melting. The weather man says it’s may get up to forty degrees today. He promises that storm we had three days ago is the last snow we’ll see until November. Everyone’s smiling, eager for spring. I get it. Come on summer. Let’s have long days and lush green. Open toed shoes and light-as-air sundresses. Le me feel that bead of sweat run down my back.

But there’s something about walking right into the jaws of deep ice that invigorated me in a way I’ve never experienced. I respect you, polar vortex. You can keep your distance, if you don’t mind. But I’ll remember you fondly.

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February 15, 2014

Meet My Dogs…Yeah, I’m That Kind of Crazy

I’ve always enjoyed dogs and had been told that one day I’d meet a pooch who would rock my world. That once-in-a-lifetime canine connection against which all other puppy love would be judged and found wanting. I scoffed at that notion. I’ve loved each and every dog I’ve been lucky enough to share a roof with. But then I met HIM.
My soul dog’s name is Grady. I met him while I was in doctor school down in Miami. I had no business spending the kind of money a purebred Bichon Frise demanded, but the moment my eyes locked onto his, I whipped out a credit card dusty from non-use, paid $100.00 a month for two years, and never regretted it. For sixteen years he was my constant companion. He sat on my lap as I wrote my dissertation. He travelled with me across southern Florida as I administered neurological assessments to folks who had willed their brain to science.

When we moved to Madison for our internship, I knew he’d be lonely during my long days at the hospital. We registered with the local Bichon Rescue Society and Maddy came to share our lives. Grady loved her. She tolerated him. Together they added the sparkle my life needed. I’d pull into the driveway after a twelve hour day, see their wiggly-white bodies jump clear of the front window as they ran to greet me, and knew the best part of my day was about to begin.

Years later Grady developed diabetes and we structured our lives around twice-daily insulin shots. When he went blind we kept our house exactly as he remembered. When dementia had him wandering aimlessly, we held him close and murmured reassurances into his deaf ears. And we rocked him and wept the day the veterinarian came to relieve him of the burden of a joyless life.

Which brings us to Tugger. Another rescue dog. A goofy mongrel who came into our lives as Grady was leaving for whatever next adventure the universe has in store. I wasn’t excited about bringing a third dog into our home. In the beginning I resented Tugger’s health and energy. My beloved Grady had long lost his. Who was this vivacious squirmer tearing around the house, displaying antics and demanding laughter that only belonged to Grady?

When I took to my bed in the quiet of the now Grady-less house, it was Tugger who jumped up, curled his muscular body into the curve of my back, rested his head on my shoulder, and heaved a sigh of understanding. His loving persistence lasted beyond my grief and he rewarded me with endless kisses when I finally allowed him onto my lap. Tugger loves his sister Maddy. She greets him with the same tolerant disdain she held for Grady.

It’s Maddy who’s old, deaf, and barely able to see the piece of cheese I hold in front of her nose. She neurotically follows my every step, as if losing sight of me might cost her grip on whatever wispy thread keeps her tethered to earth. Tugger looks away when I cuddle with my girl and assumes his spot on my lap the moment I set her down.

Tugger is my writing companion now. He’s in the chair across from my desk, watching me as I type, waiting for me to shove my own chair back just enough for him to leap up. After nine years together it seems he’s not able to understand why I can’t spend every moment rubbing his belly. His big brown eyes, framed in lashes that enter the room ten minutes before he does, look up as if to ask, “If you wanted a life, why’d you get a dog?”.

I’ll end now and give him some time. Here’s hoping you turn from this and look into the furry face of your own companion. Let them jump on your lap and remind you that as long as you’re in their presence, you’re going to have a good time.

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January 5, 2014

I’m claiming this year as mine!

Look out 2014! You’re mine, baby. I’m going to meet every day you throw at me with a determination to wear you out. By the time December 31st rolls around you’re going to be thrilled to hand over the reins to the new kid because I intend to thoroughly exhaust you!

Wow! That’s more bravado than I’ve used for decades. I gotta admit it felt pretty good. So many wonderful things are at the starting line for me. I can’t wait to see what happens after the buzzer goes off. I’m getting tremendous support from Random House, readers, family, and friends. Here’s how it’s looking so far:

My first book, The Fixer gets released February 4, 2014. It’s getting rave pre-publication reviews and I’m eager to hear what you think. The sequel (The Red Hot Fix) is released June 10, 2014, and the third in the series (The Unforgiveable Fix) comes out in October. My agent and editor are great. I have a terrific production and marketing team courtesy of Random House, and the Seahawks won the Super Bowl!

Not too shabby, huh? So here I am, hat in hand, asking for your support. Because I may be the one who’s mouthing off to 2014 warning it to look out for me…but I’m also the one who knows The Beatles were right: We get by with a little help from our friends.

Here’s what I need:

1) Order my book! The Fixer comes out February 4th. Get on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or I-Books…whatever is your source, and order that book! I promise you it will be the best $2.99 entertainment dollar you’ve spent so far this year.

2) Read the book! Many of you know I self-published The Fixer in 2012, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the wonderful comments I’ve received. There’s no doubt that it’s because of your support I have a contract with Random House now. PLEASE READ IT AGAIN! My wonderful editor has made so many suggestions to make the book stronger. Lydia has a love interest. There’s more twists. You may think you’ve heard The Fixer’s story…but trust me, you haven’t heard it all. And I want you ready for the sequel. I don’t want you lost when you encounter characters you’ve not met before.

 

3) Comment on the book! Even if it’s a few words or sentences. It doesn’t need to be a five page book report. Folks read those comments when trying to decide what book to choose. Help them choose The Fixer.

 

4) Tell your friends about the book! You know where you get your own ideas for what to read next, right? From friends you trust…folks whose taste you admire. If you like The Fixer tell everyone you know about this mysterious woman who takes matters into her own hands and doles out justice where it’s been denied.

 

5) Stay in touch! Let me share this year with you, okay? Go to my website, like me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter. I’ve just thrown down the gauntlet to an entire year! I just told the forces of time to bring it! Aren’t you the least curious to find out how it turns out? Stick with me. I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

6) Tell me what YOU intend to do with this year! I want to know. What are YOU going to be talking about when you re-cap 2014?

 

Here’s to hard work, supporting winds, and happy endings.

January 3, 2014

I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m a major binger.

It started with Lost. I caught two seasons when the network series first aired. I remember liking the way the plot pulled me into a world as familiar as 70’s music and VW vans and as eerily unsettling as mystical number combinations and polar bears roaming the jungle. Alas, their third season started around the time I got serious writing a mystery of my own and I stopped watching. Fast forward to October, 2013. With my three books safely tucked in with my publisher, it seemed the perfect time to take advantage of that free thirty-day Netflix offer that appeared in my e-mail every other day. While Lost ultimately proved disappointing, I found myself hooked on the cozy seclusion of curling up in bed with my I-Pad in the dark.


bingewatching_tewoodsNext it was Mad Men. The only thing disappointing about this show is that I’m all caught up and have to wait for the next season. Part social commentary, part brilliant costuming and design, and above all else a brilliantly written treatise on the cost of hubris, this show astounded me. I’d watch three episodes in a row and, with bleary eyes, glance over to the bedside clock, quickly review the demands of the next work day, and immediately justify starting yet another episode at 2:38 a.m. When I’d consumed all the Mad Men available on Netflix, I ponied up the cash to download the current season from I-Tunes. The dialogue…The hero’s journey…The clothes! Like Don Draper’s junkie ex-lover, I needed my fix.

Then came Breaking Bad. As I type this I hear a choir of heavenly angels herald the glorious tale of a chemistry teacher stumbling his way into darkness as he works to provide for his family. My husband and dogs slept bathed in the light of my IPad’s glow while I blew through every episode Netflix had in less than two weeks. I would have paid anything to see how it ended. Once more into the I-Tunes breech, credit card in hand, I binged until Walter laid in spread-eagle crucifixion on a cold stone floor. I had to hear the words that painted the story. Every episode gave me at least ten lines that inspired me to become a better writer.

Great writing is just that. Whether we’re reading words on creamy vellum or an electronic screen. Or if we’re hearing them while we watch on our gigantic wall-mounted HDTV’s or our hand-held tablets. It’s always about the words…and for my money, some of the greatest words written today are heard on television. They’re coming out of the mouth of Nookie Thompson in Boardwalk Empire. They’re delivered in medieval cadence on Game of Thrones. They’re spoken in a gentle southern drawl by Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder on Justified.

So how about you? What shows are you binging? Where are you hearing words that stop you cold or whisk you away in this golden age of writing?