Tag Archive for: AB Plum

Turkeys everywhere

by AB Plum aka Barbara Plum

The political junkie in me really, really, really wants to write a blog this month with
a political slant.

The common sense adult in me demands I holster my
trigger finger. Three repetitions of the adverb in the first sentence wakens my
Inner Editor screaming one question.

What insight do you, she screeches, bring to the
on-going political debacle?

Ooops, my editor’s less-than-neutral noun reflects the
political slant’s inherent volatility.

My Inner Editor returns to reason.

Thanksgiving approacheth. Why stir up gastric acids
even before the turkey and dressing, the green bean casserole, corn pudding. two
kinds of cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole (with gooey marshmallow
topping), whipped potatoes, baked Brussel sprouts, creamed onions, pumpkin, Bourbon
pecan, chocolate, apple, cranberry-pear, coconut custard, and lemon meringue
pies are served?

Why not write about the First Thanksgiving?  Inner Editor suggests.
Something with a light-hearted touch?

All right, I like humor. Stuffing my darker side down
into my mental vault, I return to the keyboard.

What’s the difference between
Election day and Thanksgiving day?
On Thanksgiving, you get a turkey for the day. On Election day,
you get a turkey for four years.
OMG, my Inner Editor groans. You’re the turkey. Get
your head on straight. Thanksgiving doesn’t have an audience for anything that smacks
of politics.

So, I forget the humorous twist. The posturing Washington
turkeys aren’t funny. They’re ridiculous.

Consider a historical perspective, advises my Inner
Editor, sharpening her red pencil. Be sure to include a hook or your reader
will stop reading after the first line.

Exactly why I want to lead with: something hooky.

Unfortunately, most of the Thanksgiving hooks are
really myths. Deconstructing those myths leaves the early founders (Separatists—not
Pilgrims—debunking one of many myths) tarnished. 

Reframing those stories—learned in
kindergarten and earlier when we dressed kids in paper bags with a feather duster
tails—probably borders on political incorrectness.

Okay, so go with a few historical facts (i.e., not fake
Whew. We do have a couple of facts:
  • ·       
    In 1863 Abraham Lincoln declared the 4th
    Tuesday in November officially as Thanksgiving. (By proclamation vs executive
  • ·       
    FDR, in 1939, capitulated to changing the
    date to the 3rd Thursday in November. (To increase shopping days
    until Christmas. Whether sound economics or flack from various groups forced a
    date of the 4th Thursday in November, we may never know).
  • ·       
    Mashed potatoes didn’t show up on the first
    menu around 1621. Fact, potatoes weren’t a staple of New England at that time.
    Ditto for sweet potatoes—a Southern staple.
  • ·       
    Venison rather than turkey provided the
  • ·       
    The Separatists (known much later as
    Pilgrims) didn’t sport buckles on their shoes.  Or on their hats. Buckles became fashion
    accessories decades after the original “pilgrims” left England. In
    the New World, they were too poor for such frippery. Since they provided their
    own medical care, public assistance was a moot point.

AOBTW, the indigenous inhabitants of the
new world most likely celebrated “the first Thanksgiving” long before
the pilgrims immigrated. (I said in the beginning I wanted to write with a
political slant).

My Inner Editor isn’t happy, but it is her right to
pursue happiness elsewhere. And for all my border-line bah-humbug ‘tude, I am
thankful to live in this contradictory place where none of us is above the law.

In Silicon Valley. AB Plum reads too much political stuff and switches to writing
mysteries to “find justice”. She writes romantic comedy because love
transforms us.

A Love Letter to Subaru

By AB Plum aka Barbara Plum

Laughter, so
goes the cliché, is the best medicine.

Some days
Colbert is not enough to counteract the news headlines. Some days, despite
their screams, the headlines seem to begin and end with a whimper. Some days
news headlines demand a prescription for twenty-four hours of nonstop laughs.

Enter a
canon of television commercials. (Okay, this statement may reach too far, but
curb your disdain at the apparent oxymoron and read on).

The carmaker
Subaru has been doing its part for a long time to bring a smile to our faces.
They began their dog commercials around 2008. In 2013, they introduced the
“Barkleys” (a canine nuclear family of four—3 Golden Retrievers and 1
yellow Lab Retriever). The dozens of 30-second shots guarantee giggles,
guffaws, and outright belly laughs.

delivered without a spoken word (nearly heresy for a writer of fiction heavy on
dialogue). All with ordinary dogs placed in ordinary human situations. All
presented with tongue-in-cheek humor that makes me think if the world’s going
to the dogs, we should let it go.

I do not now or ever have owned a Subaru. I do not now or ever have owned stock
in Subaru. I grew up with canine companions, but none of them was a Golden
Retriever or Lab.


AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, isn’t chortling over the “Barkleys,” she
lives, writes and pats all puppies she encounters on her daily walks in
Silicon Valley. Her latest romantic comedy,
Crazy Daze and a Knight is
one of the very few books she’s penned 
without a
four-legged, furry companion. 

But … All Things Considered features a ferocious feline. If you have time to
laugh, check out the Subaru dog commercials
here. And if the commercials don’t
brighten your day, check out
National Make a Dog’s Day.

Travel: A Path to World Peace

By Barbara Plum aka AB Plum

“Travel is fatal to
prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness …”  (Innocents Abroad)

On the other hand, there’s no
place like home.

After a summer of living in
Denmark, with side trips to Iceland, Scotland, Finland, and Estonia, I boarded
what I hoped was my last airplane for a while on August 31. We stood in line to
clear security at Kastrup, and I wondered if any other country besides our
Scandinavian haven had withstood such an onslaught of tourists.

Despite the hordes—and my
being patted down at the airport—the multitudes and I proceeded to our flights
without incident. Standing in front of Customs, I felt a frisson of tension.
(We learned before departing the US that Iceland is part of the Schengen Area).

So? You might ask.

Schengen Agreement … 

This Agreement allows people
and goods to cross 26 EU borders without visas or other kinds of border controls.
US citizens can remain in the entire area
a total of 90 days within a 180-day period. Pretty straight forward. (My husband traveled on his Danish passport and so avoided the “rules).

Yes, but …

I knew about the restrictions
before leaving the US on May 27 for Iceland. Iceland is part of the Schengen
Agreement. Six days there before going to Denmark meant I would exceed the 90-day allotment. I called
the Danish Consulate near my home in late April and got the reassurance that I could go to
any police station in Denmark and receive an extension of my 90 days.

Once upon a time, yes. In June 2019 …
I had to go to Danish Immigration with a long form filled out by my husband’s
lawyer-cousin. The clerks who handled my request warned us I would very likely have
my request rejected. (About a hundred people—Mid-Eastern women, mostly, with
small kids and babies—queued up to other lines to submit their papers). I never
learned the outcome of their petitions, but I realized my extension mattered
nothing compared to immigrants seeking asylum.

Ever optimistic about my own
case, I thought playing the “family” card would over-ride
bureaucracy. Family is a very big deal in Denmark. My husband’s family had
planned a major reunion for us and dozens of cousins on August 25. Our adult kids
were coming from the US to take part in the festivities. Et cetera. Et cetera. Etc.

Nothing personal … and no narrow-mindedness …
just the rules …

In less than a week, we received
the official word, delivered by Priority Mail. I had to leave on the 24th
or risk a hefty fine and exclusion from the EU for an unspecified time if I
violated the rules.
A trip to the American
Embassy resulted in no hope. Naively, I assumed someone in the US Embassy would
take up my case. Denmark, I learned, now has some of the strictest immigration
policies in Europe. And no, I could expect no help from US personnel.

A loophole …

A light shone at the end of
the tunnel though. One loophole existed. I could leave Denmark for 6 days (the
number by which I would exceed my stay) and then return to Denmark, giving me a
total of 90 days in the country.

But … but … where could I go?

The UK or Croatia. Or, of
course, back to the States. Choices, choices.
Brexit mania was all over the
European news in mid-July. Did I really want to go to London under those

After five minutes of
discussion about cheaper airfares, shorter flights, and another visit to
Croatia, my husband and I chose Scotland for our sojourn. I’d always wanted to
tip-toe through the heather—if I could visit during a rain-free period.


Raindrops keep dancin’ on my head …

Sunshine shone on us every
day except for our bus trip to Stirling to visit the castle. Since we’d enjoyed
perfect weather at Edinburgh Castle, we didn’t complain. Dozens of Scotsmen
told us how lucky we were not to have to resort to rain-gear, and we agreed.

Our six days in Edinburg flew
by. We missed the heatwave that hit the week after we left, and we returned to
Copenhagen almost glad for the need to make the side trip.

And yes, we tried haggis—almost
edible with a couple of cold local beers.

Our trips to Finland and
Estonia, planned before our imposed trip to Scotland, proved uneventful. Great
weather. Manageable crowds. Quiet and relaxing.

Heading home …

By the last week of August, despite
an amazing summer, we were ready to go home on the 31st.  An eleven-hour flight lay ahead of us so we
decided to check for lounge availability and pay for a more quiet place to
relax before takeoff. Pay, because Norwegian Air no longer provided free lounge
entrance for Premium passengers. If we upgraded to Premium-Plus status, then we
could stay for the 2-hour wait time for free. Another thousand dollars seemed
excessive …

As we checked with the desk
attendant regarding available space, she told us the charge would be $40
each.  We hesitated. Then, a young woman
behind us, offered to make us her guests. Surprised, but quite happy, we
accepted. We thanked her and discovered she’d grown up in Silicon Valley. She
now lives in Boston, but the world is a small place.

We settled in with coffee and
comfy chairs and marveled at our good luck. “Travel [really] is fatal to
prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.”

How about you. Do your travel
experiences support Twain’s statement?
When not traveling the world,
Barbara Plum and her alter ego, AB Plum, live in Silicon Valley. Her latest
romantic comedy, Crazy Daze and a Knight
is available FREE through Thursday. 

Flexing, Resilience, and Going Home

By AB Plum

In a little over three weeks,
I’ll board a plane for a twelve-hour flight to the US, headed for:


Silicon Valley.


After two-plus months in
Copenhagen without a dishwasher, I’m really looking forward to that luxury.
(No, washing dishes by hand wasn’t the hardest adjustment. But … I washed
enough dishes growing up as the oldest of six kids to say:  been
there done, that

On the other hand, washing
dishes here three times a day reminded me of how many people in the world lack
water to drink or cook or bathe or clean their teeth. Our three-room Danish
apartment would make those resilient people think they’d entered Heaven. Nobody
forced me to take this sabbatical so no whining allowed.
Frankly, I’ll miss the
incredible public transportation. It took me a day or two to remember to click
on and click off trains and buses—not too different from San Francisco. And
maybe the easiest adjustment. Never having to drive or find a place to park has
reinforced how glad I am that I like to walk (because the train doesn’t stop in
front of my apartment). 

Returning home, I’ll have to
re-adapt to shopping for groceries once a week instead of every day. Having
three niche markets fifty feet from our apartment has changed our buying habits.
I wonder, though, if I’ve seen the future here? Consumers load their own
grocery bags (plastic, paid for if they forget to bring one). Plastic surprised
me since in our part of California, plastic is banned from supermarkets.

When we first arrived in
Denmark, I vowed to learn to speak Danish.

Didn’t happen. I’ve learned
to read and understand quite a bit. My vocabulary has expanded and my
pronunciation is somewhat understandable to a tolerant native. But speaking
full sentences? Expressing more than the basics: Where is [the bathroom]? What time is it? How do you say … In most
cases, Danes reply in English. But the majority of grocery store clerks still
greet me in Danish and ask if I want a receipt.

The elevator continues to require
an act of faith to step into, but my heart rate kicks up only about ten beats
instead of twenty. Flexibility. Resilience. The little steps matter.
Going to the airport is the
next big step. We’ve opted to go by taxi because of our luggage—too much to
handle on the train. We’ve about accepted the fare—almost a quarter of one
airline ticket. We congratulate ourselves on our adaptability. The fare still feels outrageous …

We leave on a Friday—bedlam at
the airport as we know from our earlier flight to Scotland. We’re flying on a
budget airline. The gates are practically in Germany. We’ll probably worry
until we board about what we’ve forgotten. Maybe our new-found flexibility will
extend to asking, What difference does it make what we’ve forgotten?
Because … the one huge change
we soon embraced after our arrival?

We can live quite comfortably
with far less “stuff” than we have.

If we had to walk out of this
apartment with nothing but the clothes on or backs, our medications, our
wallets, our passports, and nothing else—not even our laptop—we’d get along

Have you spent an extended
stay in a foreign country?

What was your biggest

Did you feel a bit smug about
your resilience to new customs, food, language, etc.?

AB Plum and her alter-ego,
Barbara, have spent the summer in Denmark, making sojourns to Scotland and
Finland. The first trip required a great deal of flexibility to resolve some
immigration issues. The second trip required a whole new mindset relative to

Despite a few turbulent days,
Barbara will meet her deadline for publication of Crazy Daze and a Knight, a romantic comedy exploring a second
chance at love.
Available on Kindle August 27.


by AB Plum

Everyone would probably agree:  travel requires flexibility.
Moving to another country for three
months demands a lot of flexibility.
As I am learning during my three-month
great adventure in Copenhagen. (It’s not all about the pastries).
The first big flex point for me came
as soon as we reached our apartment.
As a walker, I always check out
places to walk. Quiet streets, little traffic, and sidewalks on both sides of
the street appeared promising.
Until … I realized bicyclists had
their own routes running parallel to the sidewalks. And cars could park halfway
up on those same sidewalks. Which, by the way, were blocks of two rows of cement
blocks side by side, separated by three-by-three cobblestone squares running
down the middle. Grates, front steps, and boutique displays occupied the space
next to the buildings. Another walker coming toward me left about two inches to
navigate. Damp or dry, those cobblestones were treacherous.
Time to flex.
Luckily for me, a cemetery is about
a quarter of a mile from our apartment. I figured out if I walked early in the
mornings, I avoided most pedestrians, bikers, and parked cars. When I walk to
and from the train—about half a mile from the apartment—I still clench my teeth
a lot. Nonchalance comes with time and practice.
Another flex point came with
settling into an apartment without a dishwasher in a kitchen about half the
size of my own. Hey, I grew up with my sisters as co-dishwasher. I could cope.
Hands in sudsy water might even generate conversations with several stubborn
Cooking with a minimal number of
utensils (as in 1 skillet and 1 sauce pan) tapped some ingenuity as did a
refrigerator with frost on the walls. (Yes, I contacted the apartment owner. He
suggested turning the temperature from 2 to 1 not worry). Okay …
Elevators have never appealed to me.
In a building over a hundred years old, they creep me out. On the other hand,
the two days the elevator stopped operating and I climbed sixty-six stairs to
my penthouse apartment, I could hardly wait to test my claustrophobic fears.
Now, I step into my vertical coffin,
compartmentalize my terrors, and bend my knees each time we lurch to a stop.
Flexibility is good for the body and the soul.
My biggest challenge?
My new laptop. The touchscreen
drives me crazy. I realize this technology has zip to do with living in Denmark
or anywhere else. But … I feel as if I’m in hell every time I try to access my
email, touch the wrong note, and end up looking at something I intended to delete.
I have seriously begun to doubt that I do, in fact, possess opposable thumbs.
Flexibility only extends so far.
Plum aka Barbara Plum is spending the summer in Denmark, putting the finishing
touches on her latest romantic comedy, Crazy Daze and a Knight, due for release
in mid-August.

Oh, The Places We’ll Go

By AB Plum
When writing
a novel, time and place matter. They anchor, at the simplest level, the story
setting. Characters don’t exist in a vacuum so I like putting them in a
place, at a time, when they have to make choices.

The Early Years, Book 1 in The MisFit Series gives the month, the city, and the specific
location in the city. The narrator makes a choice to commit murder. He pinpoints
at the micro level a horrific train accident and its relationship to him. The
train station, the frigid cold, the crowds—all symbolize the trajectory of the
narrator’s future. 

All this setting gets settled in less than a page.

When I wrote
the Danish descriptions, I did so from memory and with a few details from my
husband, born in Copenhagen. All the while I wrote the MisFit Series, we discussed how much fun we’d have going back and
staying for more than three weeks.

So, this
summer, we’ll leave Silicon Valley and stay in a Copenhagen apartment near
where my husband lived as a little boy. (Go figure that my WIP is the Ryn Davis
Mystery Series set in the shadow of Google. Who knows? Ryn may meet a Dane in
one of the upcoming mysteries).

My plan is to
absorb more than the kringles, polse, plaice, and
rødgrød med fløde (flaky almond-stuffed pastry, hot
dogs, flounder, and raspberry/strawberry porridge with thick cream). I hope to
return to the US speaking en smule dansk (a little Danish). I plan to visit all
the tourist spots and those
out-of-way cultural and historical landmarks known only to Danish citizens.
With lots of family there, I think we’ll experience this setting more deeply
than we now can only imagine.

write my July blog from Denmark. My plan is to write about the main train
station (
Københavns Hovedbanegård). This setting is the scene referenced
above in
The Early Years. This setting lays
the groundwork to delve into a psychopath’s dark mind.

AB Plum lives with her husband and alter ego, Barbara Plum off the beaten path but writes in Silicon Valley—a setting
unto itself. She tries to capture the nuances of the place in her new Ryn Davis
Mystery Series.

Books Not Recommended

By AB Plum

Years ago—I
can remember exactly how many but can’t grasp when the days flew by, as the
cliché goes—I worked in my county library. I was sixteen. An avid reader. A
card-carrying patron from grade-school days. Working there was the best job in
town. I earned minimum wage, got vacation, and experience that later helped me win
a job in the university library. Two decades later, I received my MLS degree and worked in a large, urban public library system. 

Of all the
wonderful memories I can resurrect in two minutes about the county library, one
stands out most vividly.

Picture a floor-to-ceiling front window with
sunshine flooding the comfy couches, the New Books shelves, and the magazine
nook. Mysteries occupied the wall with the periodicals (yes, we subscribed to The New York Times and the New Yorker). Westerns
required a third of the same wall. Science fiction didn’t merit its own spot.

A large study section at the rear of the building separated the adult and children’s collections as well as our small, local museum dedicated to a local nineteenth-century opera

janitor kept the nearby public and staff restroom spotless. Graffiti never appeared on any public spaces
in our quiet little town.

A right-turn
from the restroom took patrons past the office the librarian shared with the
staff to process new books, repair damaged ones, fill boxes for year-round
bookmobile deliveries. Large windows at ceiling height added to the ambiance of
space and light. Five
 bookcases sat under the windows. 

The shelves bulged
with “forbidden” books. 

Forbidden to anyone under twenty-one.
Forbidden to the “older ladies” who came in weekly for novels by
Faith Baldwin, Bess Streeter Aldrich, Georgette Heyer, Agatha Christie, and so
many other writers whose pages those ladies devoured. Forbidden to anyone who
didn’t explicitly know the secret collection existed. (I certainly had no
inkling before working there).

But … did I,
five years shy of the required age, read Huck
Finn, Catcher in the Rye, Of Mice and Men,
Ulysses and dozens more banned books in my small, Southern town?

Absolutely. Within
the first six weeks of my employment. It took me that long to work up my courage. I worried
about going to jail. Or maybe directly to hell.

Of course I
never admitted my jaded tastes to any of my co-workers. I sneaked the books off
the premises—usually on Saturday afternoons when I was left to close up. And 
I never
checked the books out.

I felt guilty about my subterfuge but not guilty enough to stop reading from the
forbidden shelves. I rationalized that my caution was okay since the library’s
treasurer, Mr. Schneider—a septuagenarian and the first vegetarians I’d
ever met, entered the “Forbidden Chamber” and removed more than one
book every week without stopping by the front desk on his way out.

I suspect
the librarian knew what I was doing. I suspect she never confronted me because
she knew me from my previous years of reading eclectically from the general
collection. I suspect she realized I would read most of the “Forbidden
Books” during my Freshman year in college–still three years short of twenty-one.

Lots of
ethical issues skim the edges of my dishonesty. Thoughts for another day. I’ll
simply say I’m grateful I benefitted from censorship and an open-minded librarian.

What about
you? Did your library ban books? Did the library have a special place for
“mature audience” books? Did you, as a teenager, read any books in
that category?

*****AB Plum
writes books that might well have gone into the “Forbidden Chamber.”
She keeps sex and violence and offensive language to a minimum. (Well, the
language might be a stretch). She lives in Silicon Valley with her husband and
alter-ego, Barbara Plum). She enjoys hearing from readers, so catch up with her

Twitter:  @ABPlumWriter

Horse and Buggy Redux

By AB Plum

A rep from the National Transportation Safety Board recently exhorted the California legislature to pass a law banning all cellphone use while driving. Yes, this included hands-free usage while behind the wheel.



Such a law will pass when cows give chocolate milk.
Or when we find gold coins in the street.
Or when parents stop giving their kids phones at age 3 (and younger).
Or when couples go to dinner and actually talk to each other without their cells on the table.
Or when non-emergency workers leave their phones in a room other than the bedroom.
Or when pedestrians cross streets looking around them versus texting on their cells.

Do I sound like a Luddite?


But … I realize how unenforceable such a law would be. At the same time, I wonder if stronger restrictions are possible with teenage drivers? All the multi-tasking myths aside, driving requires concentration. Talking on a phone is distracting. Ergo, chances of accidents go up.

Of course teenagers counter with the irrefutable argument, “our reflexes are better than old people’s reflexes, so if they can use a hands-free cell, why can’t we?

The discussion will go on and on. Legislators will avoid taking action because they’re politicians. Twenty years from now, babies will be born clutching cell phones in their hands—an electronic umbilical cord which won’t get cut at delivery.

Did our great-great-great-great grandparents debate the pros and cons of reading the newspaper while driving their horse-drawn buggies?

What about you? Are you a hands-free driver? Do you ride with a teenage driver who chats on her phone while navigating traffic?

AB Plum gives her cellphone number to her husband, children, brother, and best friend. They know better than to call her on it because she rarely carries it—especially in her car. An unrepentant Luddite, she lives and writes in the heart of Silicon Valley. She’s considering writing a Sci-Fi novella about a society without cellphones.

Her latest mystery novel, All Things Considered, releases on April 25. “How does an insomniac sleep through two bullets that killed her rock-star lover?” Preorder here and solve the mystery. 

I often offer bonuses to readers of my newsletter. If you’re interested in these exclusives, sign up here. 

Something Rotten in Denmark

By AB Plum

Smell is one of the least used elements in writing fiction. Interestingly, many scientists believe smell is our most primitive sense and can instantly generate deep memories and emotions.

Capturing smells, however, is hard. Yet, in nearly every book I’ve written, I try to tap into smell as a portal into characters’ pasts and into their feelings.
Since I like a challenge, I decided to introduce smell very early in my latest WIP. My goal is to show a strong conflict between the Main Character and her lover. He’s addicted to popcorn–the more butter, the better. She, having popped a ton in the vintage popper she gave him as a birthday gift years ago, fights gagging on the buttery fragrance. Well, she thinks stink.
So, why did I choose popcorn over grilled steak? Or baking brownies? Or fresh roses? Or just-squeezed lemons? Or dirty socks? Or cologne? Or Brussel sprouts? Or millions of other smells?
Answer? From my own memories of weekly trips to my great-grandmother’s house. Spring, summer, winter, or fall, almost as soon as my mother, sister and I arrived, Grannie went to the kitchen and popped a huge pan of popcorn. Sprawled on the floor on my stomach, I ate, listened to the grownups gossip, and felt so loved because Grannie never forgot to make this just-for-me treat.
The fragrance of corn popping brings an instant collage of me and my five siblings scarfing popcorn in front of the TV on Saturday nights. Squabbling over where to set the pan. Claiming, as the oldest kid, the right to hold the pan and mete out servings. Crunching the “old maids.” Feeling comforted by the ritual of using the special pan, having patience while the oil melted, measuring the popcorn, shaking the contents, and then pouring it into the bowl and topping with butter. TV without popcorn? A big waste of time. (I like to think I learned a few life lessons).
Today, a good book is my favorite popcorn-side dish. I’d rather eat cardboard than eat air-popped corn. Same for packaged, pre-popped corn sold in supermarkets. Movie-popcorn–well, the fragrance of the corn popping–ranks as near edible because of all the memories of going to matinees and spending my dime on the tender, fluffy kernels.  (I know the earth is round, and I know that modern movies no longer use the Iowa-grown, hybrid stuff I grew up on).
As for storage, we always kept our unpopped corn in five-pound coffee cans. Still do. Moisture, doncha know? And OBTW, yellow is the popcorn of true aficionados. 
What about you? What’s your favorite smell? What memories and feelings does the smell evoke?
**** AB Plum, aka Barbara Plum, writes dark psychological thrillers and whodunnits, along with light paranormal romance in Silicon Valley. A bowl of popcorn often sits next to her computer for inspiration.

Snow, Rain, Rainbows, and Writing Fiction

By AB Plum

Taxes. Traffic. Too many people. Californians departing the state routinely cite these facts of life as reasons for leaving. Few—in the San Francisco Bay area at least–ever mention the weather. Our sunny days and mild temperatures rival the Mediterranean. In other words, expect the same o’ same o’ temps and sunshine day after day. (OBTW, we do have four seasons in the Bay area).

This year, though, we’ve seen rain every day for the past month. Not the kind of gully washers Florida and other parts of the country experience, but slow, steady downfall that has turned our world vibrant shades of green. And given us some amazing rainbows. Every color is distinct—and dangerous because too many drivers stop and gape.

Mosey up into the foothills a few hundred feet and find enough snow for at least one good snowball or a teeny, tiny, itsy, bitsy snowperson—without the sub-zero temps.

What do any of these observations and comments have to do with writing?

They remind me of how often I read novels with little or no mention of the weather (considered borrrring, right?). Personally, I like to use the weather as a metaphor for a relationship or a specific place or a cosmic reminder of how insignificant we humans are. I like trying to capture moments of being wet or sweaty or freezing or burning up while the main character tries to overcome an obstacle unrelated to the weather. 

One of the joys of writing fiction for me lies in amplifying a snowstorm, making it the “storm of the century.” I love writing about rains that have characters checking on how to build an arc—or ready to lose their minds because of the constant hammering on the roof. One of my favorite scenes is a heat wave that drives the overheated couple into her swimming pool. The water fairly sizzles.

More rain predicted here this afternoon, and I plan to go search for a rainbow. I need to write more about rainbows.

What about you? Do you find weather scenes boring? Do you prefer minimal weather descriptions? Do you have a favorite scene featuring the weather?

****AB Plum lives in the Mediterranean climate of the San Francisco Bay—within the shadow of Google, which returned a surprising number of hits for the search “writing weather scenes in fiction.”

Barbara Plum, AB’s alter ego, used the tornado in The Wizard of Oz as inspiration for a “new twist on love and the red slippers” in her Weird Magic Trilogy.