About L. Marie

I am an aspiring writer of fantasy for kids and teens. This blog encompasses my thoughts on the writing life, movies, animation—whatever pops into my head (not always a good thing). I was a student at the Vermont College of Fine Arts and earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults. I have worked as an editor, a ghostwriter, a technical writer, a bulk foods stocker, a receptionist, and a babysitter. I brake for squirrels and geese.

Popsicle® or Ice Pop?

When I was a kid, my mother would give me a Popsicle® whenever I had a fever. It’s not that I only ate one at a time of sickness. Because I was given a Popsicle® whenever I was sick, I often associate them with a fever. 😊) But isn’t it cool (pun not intended, though it should have been 😊) that a Popsicle was invented “by an 11-year-old named Frank Epperson” (according to the Popsicle® website)?

Popsicle®. Kleenex®. ChapStick®. Post-it® notes. All of these are registered trademarks. But I admit to routinely using these names as generic forms. “Can I get a Kleenex®?” rather than “a tissue.” “Thanks for the ChapStick,®” I said to someone, though the product was really Burt’s Bees®—yet another trademarked brand—or lip balm.

Ever say, “Toss me that flying disc?” Or is your go-to (like mine), “Toss me that Frisbee®?”

I used Popsicle® above, but the generic term is ice pop. Since my mother happened to buy the brand, I could use the name. But here is a quote from the company website:

Popsicle®, Creamsicle®, Fudgsicle® and Yosicle® are registered trademarks of the Unilever Group of Companies and can only be used to identify the frozen confection products of Unilever. . . . Misuse of these trademarks may violate Unilever’s very valuable rights.

Back when I was a full-time in-house editor, routinely emails were sent as a reminder to avoid using brand names as if they were the generic forms. But I still slip up and use Post-it® notes instead of sticky notes.

This is not a slap-on-the-wrist post telling you to use generic names. But I am curious if you do or don’t. Please feel free to comment below.

Popsicle® image from the Popsicle® website. Other photo by L. Marie.

The Cost of Plagiarism

Last week, a post on Publishers Lunch, a daily email publication, jumped out at me, because the subject—plagiarism—was one I’d discussed with a friend. On the eve of the distribution of a nonfiction book written by a doctor (and possibly others, though only the doctor is named on the cover), the Los Angeles Times alleged that “at least” (quoting from the L.A. Times and a CBS News article you can access here) 95 separate sections in this author’s forthcoming book were plagiarized from Wikipedia, The New York Times, and other sources. I won’t name the author here, though the L.A. Times and CBS News do so.

I’ll pause here for a definition of plagiarism for anyone who needs it. Click here to see what Merriam-Webster says on the subject.

According to PlagiarismToday (an article you can read by clicking on the source name), the L.A. Times made the discovery during their “pre-publication review.” Whoops. 😣 😖

On the day I read the Publishers Lunch post, I saw the book listed on Amazon. After all, this was the day before its release. When I began this post (3-15-23), I returned to Amazon only to find that the book had been taken out of the list.

The author released a statement through his publisher that he had the book recalled, and would revise it, either rewriting the sections in question or giving credit to the ones who did.

Think about it: this nearly $30 book had been printed and undoubtedly an audiobook had been completed. All of those books that would have been sold have to be scrapped at the author’s expense.

Sobering, huh?

The subject came up because in my years as a book editor, proofreader, and copy editor, I have had to confront authors about plagiarism. I understand that deadlines place authors—particularly busy ones—under the gun. The internet makes plagiarism easy with quick access to encyclopedias, news articles, etc. Sometimes people forget to give credit where credit is due. Neither is an excuse, however, to justify the act.

The internet is full of articles of people who were caught—some after multiple infractions. Some were award-winning journalists.

The cost of plagiarism is steep, but not just in the cost of having to recall a book. “Borrowing” that sentence or paragraph from someone else can damage your reputation. I wish I could say that goes without saying. But the fact that plagiarism still happens means that it still needs to be said.

Plagiarism image from The Veggie Queen’s website.

D-Oh! The Siren Call of Doughnuts

Many times, when my younger brother and I shopped for groceries at Mariano’s, a grocery store in the area, we stopped at the doughnut section. We perused the offerings, wondering what was inside some of the doughnuts without holes. Vanilla cream? Chocolate? Strawberry? Jelly? What was in the one with nuts on top? The latter was the one my brother usually chose, while I had to have a cinnamon roll (technically not a doughnut, but rather, a pastry) or a chocolate doughnut with sprinkles.

Even if I’m not hungry, I will make space for a doughnut. But I am picky about doughnuts. I never eat jelly doughnuts. Vanilla cream-filled doughnuts like Boston cream doughnuts also are very low on my list. So, what’s high on my doughnut list?
• Chocolate cake. A doughnut with some heft to it.
• Apple cider. Love these in the fall.
• Old-fashioned (below). This doughnut looks lived in. While it may not be the most attractive doughnut on the list, it’s usually big on taste.

• Beignet. I usually get these whenever I am in New Orleans.
• Frosted. Also a cake doughnut. Chocolate frosted is the preferred.

As I contemplate this list of doughnuts, I can’t help thinking of the assortment of characters found in stories. Some are crusty and old-fashioned. They’re the ones who take the temperature of the times and are quick to spout advice to the other characters, whether that advice is wanted or not. Some are fancy and high maintenance. They add texture to the setting through their high standards and demands. Others are peppy, popular, and colorful. They may be the life of the party, yet they have more depth than you notice at first. Others add a complicated mix of flavors through life spent in other countries and environments. They add a richness to the cultural landscape.

Getting back to doughnuts, as Homer Simpson can attest, a doughnut (and, I might add, a great character in a well-written story) is a day brightener. And I hope the announcement that you’ve getting the $25 Amazon card (from the Gray Day Giveaway) is a day brightener for you, Charles Yallowitz. 😊

Thank you for all who commented. And please don’t hate me that you are probably now craving a doughnut. 😊😊😊

Got a favorite doughnut? Do tell.

P.S. I bought this the other day. A chocolate croissant also is not a doughnut, but rather, a pastry. Still, I needed something.

Sprinkle doughnut from ClipartLibrary. Old-fashioned doughnut from the Preppy Kitchen. Mariano’s in Wheaton photo from somewhere on the internet. Chocolate croissant photo by L. Marie.

The Gray Day Giveaway

A look out of the window decided me. If the day was going to continue to be pre-snow gray (with snow expected in the forecast tomorrow), I was going to do a giveaway just because I felt like doing one.

So, a $25 Amazon gift card to a commenter. That’s it. Because we all need a distraction from incessant news stories like ChatGPT. (Well, at least I do.) Winner to be announced sometime next week. (And yes, I am a human writing this post.)

P.S. This bird popped up on my balcony rail for a visit. It was a real bird and not a computer generated one, I’m glad to announce.

Amazon logo found somewhere online. Other photos by L. Marie.

Ten Years! Who Would Have Thought???😄😊

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com!
You registered on WordPress.com 10 years ago.
Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging.

You read that right! A decade ago, February 19, 2013 (which means I’m officially late), I started this blog as a result of nagging a suggestion from my younger brother and a guy at church I hardly knew, but since I’d worked with his mother for years, that made us acquaintances. I didn’t know what I was doing. But now, here I am, ten years later.

I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Many people who are planners list their goals ten years out. They plan to be in a certain place or at a certain number (money, subscribers, whatever) that shows progress. I didn’t have a goal when I started the blog. Frankly, I didn’t think I’d last ten days blogging. I never fathomed ten years would pass and I would still be at it.

But here I am.

Consistency. Sometimes, that’s the goal.

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

My first post: https://lmarie7b.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/no-dont-speak-2/

A TV? No Thanks

I’m used to the disbelieving, how-do-you-exist look that results whenever anyone asks me, “Did you see Such-and-Such program on TV?” and I respond, “I don’t have a TV.” One response to that response has been, “Oh. Well, you can have my old TV” or “I’ll get you a TV.” Eight times out of ten, either has been the response to my response. (Yes, I know some generous people.)

Having been the recipient of the old televisions of friends and family back in the days when televisions were heavy, blocky things, I appreciate the newer, sleekier, but still heavy wall-mounted versions. I especially appreciate the generosity of family and friends who readily offer to fill my TV-less gap. But my response ten times out of ten has been, “No thank you.”

I’ll pause here to give you time to fill in your theory about the why before I tell you. Maybe I’ll repolish my nails while you theorize.

Color of Choice

You’re back? Good. Okay, now I’ll tell you why. The reason is two-fold:
1. When I went to grad school back in 2010, I slipped out of the habit of watching TV, because I worked and attended school. After graduate school (2012), I returned to watching TV, which leads me to my second reason.
2. My television (an old TV given to me by friends) broke and I never replaced it.

Did that fit your theory? Did I surprise you? Disappoint you (if you thought I had some elitest idea of TV as the opiate of the masses and therefore to be avoided)? See, the thing is, when I was a kid, I watched two to four hours of TV, seven days a week. My undergraduate years interrupted that average, because I was too busy hanging out with friends studying to watch TV (although I confess that my friends and I commandeered the one TV in the dorm—I am dating myself—to watch The Godfather I and II, refusing all requests to turn the channel). During that time, I discovered that I could actually live without TV.

After grad school, I turned to Netflix, which I watch on my computer. So, I am not entirely without the means for watching some shows. After all, I saw the first three seasons of Stranger Things and two of Downton Abbey. But since there are few shows nowadays that I want to invest the time watching, I generally watch documentaries on Netflix. (But I have watched old TV shows like Columbo on Amazon Freevee.)

Several people (maybe about ten as opposed to the twenty people who told me I had to watch Downton Abbey back when I was in grad school and had no time whatsoever to watch until after I graduated) in recent months have told me I need to get Disney +. Maybe I will eventually. For now, I’m content to be that weird person who refuses to buy a TV.

You know what I enjoy in the evenings? Reading a good book. Watching movies. Listening to music. Hanging out with friends. Crocheting various projects. (Though many evenings lately, I’ve spent freelance editing.) While this means I can’t participate in any water cooler discussions, life still feels full and enjoyable.

Old TV from Amazon. Samsung TV from Walmart.com. Other photo by L. Marie.

“There and Back Again”

Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day ❤️❤️❤️! Having recently returned from a blissful four-day retreat at the Highlights Foundation campus in Honesdale, PA, I can categorically state that I didn’t disappear off the face of the earth as you might have suspected. I was going to state that this post is proof of that, but it might have been written by AI for all you know. 😊😊 Just take my word for it that I have returned. (Yes, the post title was borrowed from Bilbo Baggins’s book title in The Fellowship of the Ring. 😊)


A group of friends (my critique group) and I retreated to the woods to write, laugh, and eat scrumptious food. We met many interesting writers who were there for the same reason. Imagine that!

This was the first time in probably four years that I’d traveled by air. So, walking past the drug sniffing dog two by two at O’Hare Airport was new to me. At least that cut the time in the security line down to ten minutes!


Not so at the airport in Newark, where my time in the security line was about nine times that! I’m grateful I didn’t miss my flight. unlike some poor souls who cut through the line because they only had ten minutes to board the plane before it left without them. Some people jumped at the chance of purchasing a Clear membership to avoid the line. If you’re wondering about the difference between Clear and TSA Precheck, click here.

Other than that, a good time was had by all.


The rocks are in the garden of rocks. Many people left messages using the words on the rocks. I like the word cattywampus, so that is why this photo is here. 😊

Photos by L. Marie

Shall We Dance?

I have always been fond of dance movies (or movies in which dance plays a huge part), though I have only had a one-hour dance lesson, one that happened before a swing dance session. Now that I think about it, I had a one-hour line dance lesson also. So, two hours is the extent of my dance lesson experience.

My love of dance movies started with Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movies shown on TV. Like An American in Paris (Gene), Funny Face (Fred), Singing in the Rain (Gene). I only saw bits and pieces of the movie for which this title derives: Shall We Dance (Fred).


Which brings me to two of my favorite dance movies: Strictly Ballroom  (Note: If you do not like spoilers, do not click on the trailer)

and Dance with Me. (Note: If you do not like spoilers, do not click on the trailer)

Now, you might wonder why movies like Step Up (and its sequels) didn’t make the cut. I never saw any of the Step Up movies. I know. ☹ What a Philistine.

Baz Luhrmann directed Strictly Ballroom, while Randa Haines helmed Dance with Me. The films couldn’t be more different. Yet they have ballroom dancing in common.


The thing that I love the most about these films is the dancing. You’re probably screaming, Oh my goodness, how profound! You have such a gift for stating the obvious! Seriouslly, I love the energy and beauty of the dances. When I’m feeling worked over by problems, I might watch either of the films entirely or dance sequences from either. There’s something about someone busting a move that feels freeing and also rebellious at the same time.

And now to segue to the winner of Through His Disciples’ Eyes by L. [Lori] Virelli! Jill Weatherholt, you can dance all the way to your mailbox because it is coming to your house!


Thank you to all who commented!

Do you have a favorite dance movie? Do tell below!

Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly movie posters found online. Other photos by L. Marie with the exception of the book cover, which is courtesy of the author.

Check This Out: Through His Disciples’ Eyes

With me on the blog today is the fabulous L. Virelli {Lori}, who is here to talk about her recently released novel, Through His Disciples’ Eyes.

Here’s a blurb:

As the author, I found it difficult to choose a specific genre for this novel. It’s not fantasy, but there’s mysticism. It’s not romance, but there’s love. It’s not Christian, but there’s Christ. It’s not psychological, but it’s emotional. It’s not religious, but it’s spiritual. In addition to all of the above, it’s an impassioned, poignant, inspirational tale which takes three characters on soul searching journeys they don’t even really know they are on.
What if Jesus lived in modern times? Would history repeat itself?

In the year 2029, the world is broken, and so is Max Greenwood. In his attempt to find inner peace, he learns of a long-lost prophet—Joshua Cane—who lived in the 1950s. His life appears to mirror that of Jesus, complete with healing miracles, disciples, and being murdered in his thirties. Researching for more, Max uncovers information on two of the disciples. Tobias Jones is a tempestuous man who separates from Cane’s other followers to spread the prophet’s teachings on his own. His ideas to control the righteous message lead to trouble. Julia Flores is a teen whose mother kicked her out. Homeless and feeling unloved, she finds purpose in following Joshua Cane on his Mission to spread peace. As she travels with him, emotional issues from her past emerge, causing drama along the way. The stories of these troubled souls searching for meaning trigger life-altering revelations for Max Greenwood—revelations not only about Joshua and his disciples, but about himself and all of us.

L. Virelli interweaves concepts from self-help, spirituality, the Bible, and New Thought into an allegorical tale.

El Space: What inspired you to write Through His Disciples’ Eyes?
Lori: You’d think this would be a simple answer for an author, right? This one is not easy to explain. The inspiration to write this novel began around 2005. I’ve written blog posts about a time of seeking I went through due to unexpected circumstances in my life. I was doing inner work and spent lots of time in the spiritual and self-help sections of the bookstore. Sometimes I read entire books while sitting in a chair at Borders. Several of those books were helpful for my growth, and most of them were instructional. I was wishing for one in story form as well—one that gives hope—characters with difficult issues they overcome. I had enjoyed the book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, which was partially fiction. That was when my mind started churning with ideas for my own fully fictional story and characters.

El Space: How long did it take you to write this novel?
Lori: The format of the book was a difficult one to put together. It starts out eight years in the future and then goes back in time to the 1950s and 60s. The author of the earlier centuries is the character, Max Greenwood, telling the story of the two other characters, Julia Flores and Tobias Jones. In addition, I needed to integrate deep spiritual principles. Since I only had short stories published at the time, and hadn’t written a novel yet, I decided to start with something easier first. I began writing Through His Disciples’ Eyes after publication of my first novel, Whit’s End, a family saga.

After writing Through His Disciples’ Eyes, it went through my critique group for fixes, and then my editor for more fixes. It ended up being five years from the first words on the blank page to publication. But it’s been a long time coming since my first ideas around 2005.

El Space: How did you research it?
Lori: The research for the book was from all the spiritual seeking and reading I’d done years earlier. Many of the spiritual principles I derived from the Bible and my favorite author and sage, Paul Ferrini. I modernized some Bible stories for the twentieth-century characters. I watched old movies, TV shows, and a couple documentaries to research the 1950s and 60s for the trends and lifestyles.

El Space: What was the hardest part about writing this novel?
Lori: The hardest part was writing three separate stories and then tying them all together at the end.

El Space: What kept you going through the writing process?
Lori: Though the novel is not fully Christian in nature, reading the Bible and watching stories about Christ kept me going.

El Space: What do you hope a reader will take away from reading your novel?
Lori: Hope. There are three broken characters who go on soul-searching journeys they don’t really know they’re on. I want their processes of learning and overcoming to offer hope to others.

El Space: What will you work on next?
Lori: I have outlined a coming home story—about an empathic woman floundering and stumbling through life. She leaves home at eighteen, thinking moving away will improve her life, but matters only get worse. Will going home mean finding herself?

Thank you, Lori, for being my guest!

Looking for Lori? Check her out at her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.

Looking for Through His Disciples’ Eyes? Check Amazon!

One of you will be given a copy of Through His Disciples’ Eyes, just by commenting. Winner to be announced next week sometime. And check out this other book by Lori by clicking on the photo.

Book cover and author photo courtesy of L. Virelli. Other book covers from Goodreads.

Would You Rather . . . ?

This is not a post about the party game, Would You Rather. . . ?  which involves giving two horrible choices and having to choose between the two. I used the first part of the question in the title to save space. The question I was thinking about came as a result of watching on Amazon Prime episodes of Columbo, a show developed by William Link and Richard Levinson.

If you’re wondering what that is, it is a crime drama starring Peter Falk as a homicide detective in Los Angeles. It aired on NBC in 1971—1978 and then sporadically on ABC in 1989—2003. Many critics deem it to be one of the best shows ever produced, thanks to stellar acting (Peter Falk won four Emmy awards) and clever scripts by Richard Levinson, William Link, Peter S. Fischer, and soon-to-be showrunners Steven Bochco and Stephen J. Cannell (and others), and directed by soon-to-be Oscar-winning directors like Steven Spielberg.

If you’ve watched Columbo, you know the titular character is a bumbling, self-effacing police lieutenant faced with solving murders committed by erudite, bold, and usually arrogant people who treat Columbo as if he is a bothersome fly they can squash anytime. They’re condescending and rude, and generally wind up talking too much, because they feel secure and overconfident. Since they severely undestimate Columbo, they often offer to help him in his investigation. He dogs their steps, in all politeness of course, asking pointed questions that eventually make short work of their fake alibis and causes them to confess. Watching him take them down is very satisfying.

Which brings me to my question: Would you rather be underestimated or overestimated? I would rather be underestimated. People let down their guard more when they underestimate you. Of course, like Lieutenant. Columbo, you have to at times put up with condescension and unwanted explanations. Like when someone explains a term he or she assumes you don’t know, based on a snap judgment that person has made about you. This has happened to me several times.

“What I mean is . . .” the person begins, which is the vocal equivalent of patting me on the head, before launching into the definition.

I like to play dumb when it happens. “Really? Oh, okay. Thank you.” I try not to sound sarcastic.

On the other hand, being overestimated is an ego stroke at first. After all, expectations for what you can do are at a high. But when the letdown comes, as overestimation implies, are you any better off than being underestimated?

So, what is your preference? To be underestimated? Overestimated?

Peter Falk as Columbo photo found somewhere on Pinterest. Adele quote from quotefancy.