Scrooge meets Marley's ghost

Today I’m starting a new weekly post on things that I saw or read during the week. Most of the content will be writing-related, but there will be other things of general interest as well. As always, I invite you to add your thoughts and any other tidbits of interest you may have picked up.

The first one is Mashups

Do you know what a mashup is? No, it’s not a car wreck nor a new mashed potato recipe. I saw this in the USA Weekend supplement of the newspaper and according to the paper, a mashup is two unrelated tales blended (or mashed) together in a tongue-in-cheek retelling. USA Weekend featured a mashup of A Christmas Carol, calling it Scrooge vs Aliens. In the story, er mashup, Scrooge is awakened by lights flashing in his room and a hand like a tentacle drawing his curtains aside. The Thing looks and speaks like an alien and Scrooge is scared out of his wits. The mashup continues along the same vein as the traditional story, but in the end Scrooge defeats the alien with the help of the paupers and Tiny Tim, son of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s employee. The story ends with Tiny Tim embracing Scrooge and saying, “God bless us, Every One.” And Scrooge nudges the alien’s body and whispers, “Even you, my friend. Even you.”

The author Ben H Winters has written two other mashup novels, Android Karenina and the best seller Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. You can read more about this mashup in

My other noteworthy read of the week is an inspirational piece that every writer can use. It has to do with the success of Mark Victor Hansen and Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul books. According to the piece, these two gentlemen had a difficult time getting anybody to publish the book and an even harder time getting anybody to buy it. Sound familiar? Then one day they got a piece of advice from a teacher called Scolastico. It was this: If you would go everyday to a very large tree and take five swings at it with a very sharp axe, eventually, no matter how large the tree, it would have to come down.” Hansen and Canfield developed “the rule of five.” Every day they did five specific things that would move them closer to achieving their marketing goals, including getting even gas stations, bakeries and restaurants to sell their books. Today, Chicken Soup For The Soul has sold over 112 million copies in forty-one languages. It’s not impossible. Just start swinging!

My final read has to do with things that concern everyone, whether you are a writer or not. With Christmas on our doorsteps, cosmetics are among the most common gifts you may receive. When you are left with odds and ends of perfume, shampoo, conditioner nail polish etc., what do you do with them? Here are some tips:

Spray clean sheets and pillow cases with left-over perfume before getting into bed. Use them in your bath as well. Spritz cotton balls and use them to freshen your lingerie drawers, closets or gym bags.

Left-over shampoo makes good laundry detergent for bras and cashmere sweaters. Don’t throw out your old hair conditioner. Use it as a shaving cream.

What can you do with nail-polish? Color code your keys, luggage handles and those manila folders with your writing projects. I’m sure you can come up with other ideas.

So, that’s it. “God bless us, Every One.” Leave a comment and let me know of any interesting reads you’ve had this week.

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