Friday, August 24, 2007


“It’s a sad situation, Sam. You’re right. There’s a nasty custody battle too, so the boys really are in the midst of it. It’s very hard for them. You seemed to give them some fun though. Do you get a lot of cases like that,” Beth asked?

“Yes, we do. There are so many divorces these days that they’ve become the main source of income for most PIs. Of the ten new cases we got this week eight of them were to follow a spouse suspected of cheating, or to get information for a divorce case. It seems there is very little trust in relationships any more. The first sign of trouble in a marriage and we are called. As I’ve said the worst cases are the ones where children are involved. They can get really nasty. These are my least favorite type of case. It doesn’t say a lot for marriage, does it,” Sam asked.

“I think marriage is what you make it, Sam. It’s like anything else. If you want it to work you have to work at it,” Kate said. “My late husband and I were married for 24 years and we were very happy. Oh, we had our bad days, everyone does, but most of the time we were content with each other. I think that has to count for something.”

“I guess so, Kate but then you were married in the days when marriage was considered forever, whereas now, most couples are lucky if they make it past five years.”

“I think you’ll find a lot of people still work at their marriages, Sam,” Beth said. “But you’re right about the children. It’s too bad there isn’t some way to wrap them in cotton wool and protect them when their parents are at each others throats. I feel for Tony and Terry too.”

A little later in the same scene: A conversation between Stacy and her sister Linda.

When Stacy came back she found her family deep in a discussion about Sam.

“Boy, does he have a jaded view of marriage, Stacy. I think you’d better back off before you get hurt,” Linda advised.

“Neither one of us is discussing marriage Linda. We’re just friends. I’ve only been out with him once, really. You can’t count the day we met so much, or today either for that matter because he was busy with the children. The day we went for the walk was the only time we really had what anyone could loosely call a date.”

This is a scene from my manuscript in which I am trying to show that the hero--Sam-- is dead set against marriage because of what he has seen as a private investigator. I guess I could use some advice from Mallory here. ;) The scene takes place in the kitchen of the heroine's--(Stacy's) sister Beth and is a conversation between Beth, Stacy's Aunt Kate (her guardian when she was younger) and Sam. This is prompted by a conversation Sam has had with little twin brothers who are caught in the middle of a nasty custody battle. The purpose of the scene is to explain why Stacy's family is convinced a relationship for her and Sam will go nowhere as the result of what he has said about marriage.

As you can see I am having trouble showing that so I could use your advice. I don't think I have said enough to show her family how strongly he feels about marriage. In an earlier scene I showed how he felt about commitment. Later I go into his feelings again when they watch a movie but I feel this scene is not strong enough to make her family feel concern for her.

Any assistance you can give will be greatly appreciated.


Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Under the Big Top

I just finished watching the film "The Greatest Show On Earth which brought back many happy memories for me. When I was a child of about eight my dad was a newspaperman who had to cover a story about the coming of Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus to our small city of Hamilton, Ontario. He talked to me the night before and asked if I wanted to go with him and watch them raise the Big Top. My older sister had already said she wanted to go so we got up at 3:30 a.m. to go with him. What excitement. There were men everywhere shouting orders and pulling elephants behind them who had large poles in their trunks. We had to scurry to stay out of their way. I was awe struck. These large beasts were the ones who did most of the work; pulling the lines, carrying the poles, raising the tent. What a huge undertaking it was. Slowly, ever slowly the large white canvas was raised. Then about a hundred men and boys pulled the ropes to make the canvas spread properly. It was a wondrous site for a little girl. We spent the whole day there and were given free tickets to watch the show for some small task we had done but I don't remember what that was. I am sure my pupils were dilated all day as if I had taken a drug. That was what the show was to me...a drug. The sights, sounds, smells and colours were meant to impress a child and they did. I oohed and aahed in all the right places and covered my eyes at the aerial acts and for the lion taming. It was a magical day and one the same circus would give me again many years later.

When I was a teenager (about 16) I bought a book called "Circus Doctor" written by J.Y. Henderson, the veterinarian for Ringling Bros. It was a wonderful book full of stories of the animals and their traumas. I loved it and wished I could hear more. Little did I know that I would get my chance.

Two years later Ringling Bros. came to Toronto as part of the Canadian national Exhibition (CNE) My father was working as part of the Publicity Department of the CNE that summer as he had in the past. I asked him if Dr. Henderson was still the vet for the circus and he suggested that I go over to their area and find out so he gave me a pass. I was a little nervous but I trotted over there as if I belonged and was told indeed Dr. Henderson was there and was immediately taken to him. I was tongue-tied. My first author meeting and I couldn't think of a thing to say. He took over and I was soon put at my ease while J.Y. (he told me I could call him that) took me around and introduced me to the aerialist that did the stunts for Betty Hutton in the movie and showed me the tigers that had gotten into a fight in New York City, as the female was in heat and one of the males had gotten loose and attacked another. He introduced me to many of the acts, including Emmett Kelly, the renowned clown and many other of the performers. It was quite a time. I went racing back to my father's office all excited and told him this man would make a great human interest story. He sent me over to the reporters but I was talking so quickly they had trouble understanding me. Finally they got the news out of me and one did go and interview JY for a story.

I spent the whole week's evenings with Dr. Henderson just walking around the grounds and talking. He had to stay close because he was still treating the tigers injuries. He was indeed a fascinating man and he could have written two or three sequels to his book as I told him. It was a very wonderful week for me. Dr. Henderson had great patience to spend so much time with a fan, telling stories and watching harness racing. As an adult now I can really appreciate his understanding and kindness.

I think it is truly sad that most children now don't have the Ringling Bros. experience. I know there are smaller circus that still travel around. There was one in our town recently but it is not the same grandeur that Ringling Bros has. I understand they are still working but now I don't believe they have the big top tent but use places like Madison Square Gardens. Like so many good things we had as kids it is an experience lost to children now.