He Calls It Clutter

Marcel Makes A Sale

Danny and his wife Lyanne were strolling through the art exhibit when he saw something really unique. They approached the artist and Danny asked, “Uh, what exactly is this supposed to be?”

Blob

Marcel quickly explained, “This painting represents the busyness of life, the rat-race we’re running, cluttering our world with stuff, yet always wanting more.”

Danny eyed the painting. “Yeah. I can see Clutter.”

“Hey, look at it this way.” Marcel used his most persuasive tone. “This is the perfect gift for that someone on your gift list who already has everything.”

Danny gave the artist a rather bemused stare, then his eyes lit up. He pulled out his wallet and handed Marcel his VISA.

Lyanne put a hand on his arm. “Whatever are you thinking?”

He gave her a silly grin. “I know exactly who to give this to.”

On January 3rd VP Harold walked into the Sales Manager’s office…and froze. He pointed to the picture. “What on earth is that supposed to be!”

Randy looked at the painting and sighed. “Christmas gift from my brother-in-law Danny. His little joke, I guess. ‘Perfect for a car leasing exec,’ he says. The artist has titled it Clutter.”

“Yeah. I can see that!” Harold leaned on the door frame and laughed.

Randy rolled his eyes. “Dan and Lyanne will be popping around tomorrow. He said they want to see how it brightens up my drab office.

“I hope you’ll be donating it to charity after that. Because it looks like you let your grandchildren play on your wall with a marker and a ruler.”

“Donate it to charity? Not on your life. Danny and Lyanne’s son’s getting his own apartment in June. This is going to be his housewarming gift. He’ll probably love it—and they’ll get to see it every time they visit him.”

“The gift that keeps on giving, eh?” Harold chuckled as he left to check out what other gifts might have turned up in the company’s offices after Christmas.

I’ve expanded this tale from a Friday Fictioneers story I posted several months ago. My thanks to the artist who posted this image on Pixabay.com.

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Fill-in-the-blanks Novels

My mother-in-law once told me that she’d like to try her hand at some pottery. Ceramics were quite popular at the time and she had thought of trying that, but she decided, “Ceramics is too much like a cake mix: add water; beat; pour into pan. The decoration is the only difference. I want to actually design something.”

Not long ago I got a list of several new books; among them was a blurb for a new cozy mystery. I read it and thought, “This sounds just like the write-up for dozens of other books I’ve seen.” I have to think of Mom’s comment about ceramics. The decorations change: names and professions vary; relationship to the detective and to the victim varies. Otherwise the blurbs are interchangeable.

Ditto with most romance stories written these days. (Another topic for another time.)

Just fill in the blanks and go:

Main character __________ (choose name, Nikki/Mikki/Kelli, etc)
a successful ___________ (profession, lawyer/ chef/baker/wedding planner, etc.)
discovers/hears about her ________ (client/ boss/ ex/ competitor/ neighbor)
_______ buried/floating/scrunched, in/at/on/into a ________.
Now she must team up with __________ lawyer/ male friend/ boss/ ex
_______ (name — Jake being the most popular by far),
to solve the mystery of who killed ______ (victim’s name)
before Detective ______  (name) a drop-dead gorgeous hunk/ grouchy bumbling misogynist arrests ___________ her/her BFF/her ex/her new boyfriend for the crime.

Our MC knows the detective’s set his sights on an innocent party, but someone has done it. So she must become an amateur sleuth (if she isn’t already) and find the guilty one before her efforts make her the criminal’s next target.

Like Mom with her preference for pottery over ceramics, I’m one who doesn’t care much for plots all coming from the same mold. I like originality.

I like stories with believable characters living their lives, where the crime (or romance) isn’t the be-all and end-all, the only focus of the main character. Where she has some life apart from interrogating suspects and ogling the hunky cop or irritating the grouchy one.

Another thing I applaud is a story with team work, rather than a one-woman show. And I dislike an amateur sleuth belligerently demanding answers from suspects — because it’s not believable. In real life people are going to clam up or blow up when pushed like that. Having suspects tell all under pressure may save a serious investigation, but it’s cheap melodrama; a writer sacrifices credibility.

That said, I plan to review some books I’ve read where the main characters lead interesting lives, that happen to include a mystery, a romance, or both. I’d like to lift out  some writers who, I feel, know their craft and avoid the stereotypes.