“"Thirteen thousand Twitter followers can't be wrong--Molly is a social media force to be reckoned with!"”
August Kammer  Talentworks Agency

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WIKIPEDIA R US

I am not sure whose idea Wikipedia was, but this web site is fantastic. It is an online encyclopedia of the people and by the people. This is how it works: anybody can create an entry about something on Wikipedia. All you have to do is the research and then figure out how to get your article about something/somebody up on the site. Wikipedia disclaims that some of the info it provides might not be entirely accurate, since, for example (this is a totally bogus example, by the way) the entry on Abraham Lincoln was written by Herman Flickmeyer of Cornfields, Georgia. Herman might not be the world’s Lincoln expert, but it doesn’t matter if he got his Lincoln info on Wikipedia first!

I guess one could go onto the site and correct obvious errors. For instance, if Herman erroneously declared that Mr. Lincoln drove a Cadillac, then that could be removed or corrected. Because everybody knows that Lincoln drove a Lincoln….duh!

So. I have been working on my own bio for Wikipedia. I think it is almost finished. And you can trust it completely, because who knows me better than I do? So here it is, the official Molly D. Campbell Wikipedia entry!

MOLLY D. CAMPBELL

BORN:  None of anybody’s business.

OCCUPATION: Writer. Or at least she thinks she is.

SPOUSE:  Yes, she has one. But this isn’t about him, for Lord’s sake!

CHILDREN: Yes. And they are both gorgeous and adore their mother.

EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION: Molly had a lot of stomachaches in grade school. She used them as a ruse to stay home and watch General Hospital. These stomachaches were in large part due to her unpopularity:  she was the tallest kid in the whole school, including the principal, who was a man. Then came high school, which was equally dismal. No date for Homecoming.  College was much more fun, though. There Molly majored in theatre, and has enjoyed making a spectacle of herself ever since.

PERSONAL LIFE: Molly never excelled at homemaking or cooking, although she doggedly did her duty at home for years. After discovering Stouffer’s frozen meals and the Swiffer, Molly found life much easier.

AWARDS AND ACHIEVEMENTS: Molly feels that she deserves to win a huge award. This has not happened so far. She has an acceptance speech prepared, however.

OTHER PROJECTS: There is a lot of detritus up in the attic. That needs to be taken care of. Also, the door on the microwave sticks.  This may require an entire day to rectify. The cats shed a lot and spray the baseboards, and battling this is an ongoing project. The doctor says that even though it is very hard to lose that “baby weight” thirty six years after the baby was actually born, it needs to happen. And then there is all that exfoliating to do.

MISCELLANEOUS: Molly has a bucket list. Some of the items not yet checked off are 1) Losing the baby weight, 2) Having an affair with George Clooney, 3) Learning to like kale, 3) Reading Finnegan’s Wake, 4) Buying a loft in NYC and inviting George Clooney over, and 5) Winning the Pulitzer Prize.

Wait. I just read this: “If your life and achievements are verifiable and genuinely noticeable, someone else will probably create a Wikipedia entry about you sooner or later. We strongly discourage autobiographies.”

Oh.

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ART FOR ART’S SAKE

You know what makes a real artist? You know, the kind that people remember for years and years after that artist has died? Is it the body of work? The talent? Well, yes. But here is the thing that you really need to do if you want to be a true artist: you have to live outside the boundaries.

We bloggers are a pretty wholesome bunch. We write about our kids, recipes, housekeeping, and if we really feel racy, hot flashes or twerking. Think about it: will any reader in a hundred years even care about twerking? As a matter of fact, they probably don’t care about it right now.

But true artists? They are remembered for their searing talent, yes. But let’s face it: we read biographies and watch movies about them because they lived outrageous lives. They did things a hundred years ago that most of us would be scared to try today.

In order to be a great artist, you have to explore all human emotions. This means doing stuff like having tons of affairs, with both sexes apparently. You have to take drugs and hallucinate, and then write poems. You have to wear outrageous clothing or dress like the opposite sex. Or, you have to be a nudist.

Artists have obsessions. They only eat fruit. Or they go out into the woods and commune with nature in huts. They refuse to start their days without transcendental meditation. Or they become raging alcoholics. They take hallucinogenic drugs, with Peruvian natives or mystics in the mountains of Nepal. They have lions as pets. Or they fly their own planes.

Artists travel the world. They bump elbows with Kings. Or queens (see affairs, above). They make offhand remarks that become household expressions, such as “Be yourself; everybody else is already taken.” Oscar Wilde

True artists seem to live life at the extreme edges. They take huge risks, so that the rest of us don’t have to. But sometimes, I feel that due to my very conventional life path, I will never achieve anything even close to real art in my writing career.

But wait a minute. I just had a revelation. My blog? It reveals the ins and outs of my conventional life. It is mundane. It reveals the gamut of human experience from A to B. There are some people who might find this illuminating–people who would find my life absolutely fascinating and hard to understand. There are people who might obsess about my blog!

By God, there is an audience for this! ARTISTS.

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A CAUTIONARY TALE

I have a problem. Well, I suppose I have many problems, but the one I am going to discuss here comes from my need to have as many pets as I possibly can. I think I am the victim of the times. Remember when every family had A car? And A bathroom? And, if they were lucky, A television? And A pet?

This all changed somewhere in the mega decade of the seventies, when apparently all Americans got lost in a wave of affluence. Well, not all of us, but enough of us. Suddenly, having one of something was just not enough. Everybody in the family developed a need for their own thing. Dad had his own car. So did Mom. And as soon as Junior turned sixteen, so did he. One television in each room became the norm, because each family member needed to watch his or her own show. There was a special telephone line just for the kids: yes, just for their own calls.

So right along with all of this conspicuous consumption came the need for every family to have its own pack of animals. We needed a dog to keep the dog company. Then that wasn’t enough; we needed another dog or two, so that we could have matching pairs of them. We were gone so much in the multiple cars, you know—having a pack of dogs kept them from being lonely while we were gone. The same thing applied to cats. And birds. Maybe even to ferrets; I am not sure about that.

So somewhere along the line, I began collecting cats. Then I woke up one morning, and there were five of them on the bed, shedding fur all over us and pushing my husband off of his side. There were cat food bowls all over the place, and in the basement, nine cat litter boxes. Gosh.

But here is the thing: in our family, now that our kids are gone, there is only one person who likes pets. That would be me. And having five of them for just me has become overwhelming. Nobody warned me (well, actually, the veterinarian did, but who believes them?) that having multiple cats creates turf wars. So not only do I have two tigers, two Siamese, and one white cat distributing fur all over my furniture and my black pants, but I have five warriors jousting for the position of chieftan.

Some of you may know how cats achieve dominance. But for those of you who don’t, here is how they do it: they spray urine against the baseboards. You thought only dogs do this on hydrants? If only.

The solution is culling the herd. However, I am unable to make that kind of Sophie’s choice. Instead, I use deterrents. A deterrent is something one puts along the baseboard line in the house to give the cats second thoughts about spraying.

Here is a list of the things you will find along my baseboards: forty cotton pads saturated with essential oil of orange, three open jars of Vicks VapoRub, two miles of aluminum foil, one “linen fresh” air fresher plug-in thingy per room, and catnip flakes. The catnip flakes are supposed to make the cats feel happy and not like they have to prove anything.

I am tired, my nasal passages are overstimulated, and though I am gaining just a little on the cat dominance spectrum, I feel that the seventies betrayed me.

So I am getting rid of one of my television sets.

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This Guy!

I am taking a brief blog vacation to babysit this guy!

FCK

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INTERVIEW WITH HALLIE EPHRON

I have known Hallie for a couple of years now. I am a big fan of mysteries, and I love Hallie’s There Was an Old Woman, Come and Find Me, and Never Tell a Lie. Hallie grew up in the fascinating Ephron family, surrounded by great wit and great writers.  Hallie and a group of her mystery writer friends host a very interesting and entertaining blog: http://www.jungleredwriters.com. Hallie and I had this great conversation:

MOLLY: Hallie, just about everyone I know is fascinated with mystery writers. How do they come up with the plot? So let me ask: do you start with the crime and the culprit and work backwards? How do you put in the twists and turns? It seems so difficult!

HALLIE: It always starts with some spark from my real life. The spark for There Was an Old Woman was when my neighbor was pulled out of her house by firefighters — she’d collapsed on her kitchen floor, and rescuers almost couldn’t find her because the house was so full of garbage, debris, cats… you get the picture. I thought What if… she didn’t create the mess she was found in?

From there the story evolved into utter chaos and it took me more than a year to find the ending.

MOLLY: Crime novels seem to require a lot more research than love stories. After all, ‘boy meets girl, loses her, and then gets her back’ is pretty easy. But crimes are a whole other thing. Do you have an in with the police? Coroners? Lawyers and judges? How do crime writers go about learning about all the things they need to know to write credible books?

HALLIE: My next door neighbor is a Statie and we have a good friend who’s a criminal defense attorney. Through my writing I’ve become friends with a medical examiner in Connecticut and the preeminent Lee Lofland [www.leelofland.com] and D. P. Lyle, MD [http://www.dplylemd.com] are out there, generously answering the forensics and medical questions of needy writers. Their books are terrific resources, too.

MOLLY: Now I want to turn to you as a reader. What turns you off about a book? If you are at the library and pull a book off the shelf, what makes you put it right back?

HALLIE: Graphic violence too soon. Explicit sex. If the writer is really good and the violence and/or sex are essential to the plot, then I’ll hang in there. But too often it’s not. I’m likely to stop reading, too, if the author uses a child as a plot device to raise the stakes.

MOLLY: And conversely, there must be books that grab you from the first paragraph. What kinds of books are those? Which authors do you think are great at opening GRABBERS?

HALLIE: I actually do not think you have to GRAB the reader. I like books that start slowly and suck me in with characters I grow to care about.

MOLLY: Everybody asks you, I am sure, about your family. You grew up in such a unique family.  What did you learn from your upbringing that has helped you the most as a writer?  A piece of advice you got that you could share?

HALLIE: I learned that genes help, but it’s sitting down in the chair and doing it that gets you there.

MOLLY: And finally, if you could interview yourself, what is the one question you would love to be asked? Your answer?

HALLIE: Q: How’s your new grandbaby? A: Delicious!

Thanks a million, Hallie! Visit Hallie’s official web site: http://hallieephron.com/

Grab a copy of Hallie’s book by clicking on the book cover below.

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