Friday, September 25, 2015

FUNNY MISTAKES IN SELF-PUBLISHED BOOKS


               
I was editing my book last night and laughing at some of the careless mistakes I’d made in it. It reminded me of a column I wrote last year about a discussion group I belong to on Amazon.com, where people share funny mistakes they find in books, mainly the self-published ones.

Anyway, the column I wrote last year received so much positive feedback, I’ve decided to share some of the more recent goofs the readers have found.  Personally, I think a lot of the group members’ comments (which I’ve put in parenthesis) are even funnier than the mistakes they found.

From a mystery romance novel: “He was certain his search for her kidnapper would lead him to his arch rival, Juan, the famous shipping magnet.” (This explains why Juan was attracted to refrigerators and couldn’t seem to pry himself away).

From a crime novel: “Is there any more news on the security breeches?” (Security breeches?  Are those the male equivalent of a chastity belt?).

From another romance novel: “The doctors had to put her in a medically induced comma.” (I guess she didn’t qualify for the semi-colon? Maybe one of her organs was punctuated?).

From a science-fiction novel: “Apparently, he was being stocked by aliens.” (I wonder which section they stocked him in? Produce, meat or dairy?).

From a steamy romance: “Her body quacked under his heated stare." (Good way to break the mood, I’m thinking…unless you’re a duck).

From a murder mystery: “She was frightened when she heard a creek in the dark hallway.” (I’d be frightened, too, if I heard water rushing down my hallway!).

From a modern romance: “I’ve always had a flare for roses.” (For that black, extra-crispy potpourri).

From a mystery novel: “She didn’t want him to find out she was three months in the rears on her mortgage payment.” (Yep, those mortgage payments can be a real pain in the butt!).

From an adventure novel: “They were two damaged soles looking for their place in the world.” (A cobbler’s shop, perhaps?).

From a romance novel: “All I can say is I must be a real gluten for punishment!” (I’ll bet she was born and “bread,” too).

From a crime novel: “He figured he could beat the wrap.” (Hey, don’t take out your anger on innocent Christmas paper!).

From a science-fiction novel. “He received near-fatal wounds while trying to take down a rouge from another pack.” (Some people take their skin applications and blusher very seriously).

From a young-adult novel: “Kelsie groaned as she eyed the mountain of empty pink hangars and discarded clothes strewn across her bed.” (Did she also have Airline Pilot Barbie to go with all of those pink hangars?).

From a romance novel: “I should have introduced you!  Where are my manors?” (Nothing worse than misplaced real-estate).

From a romance novel: “She was aware of his reputation as a wonton lover.” (I really love my Chinese food, too!).

From an old-fashioned romance: “She carefully poured the soup into the blue pottery bowels.” (Ugh!  I just lost my appetite…maybe forever!).

From a modern romance novel: “His girlfriend died in a fire right before she broke up with him.”  (Huh?).

From a mystery novel: “Morning’s bitten light was struggling out across the city and shafted down through the penthouse’s skylights. He groaned again when the warm shelf of light hit his face.” (The light was bitten, struggling, shafting and shelved, all in one paragraph? That’s one energetic beam!).

From another mystery novel: “She wrote a blog for the paper and occasionally broke out in print as well.” (Broke out in print? Is there an ointment for that?).

From a romance novel: “You’re nothing but a heartless cod!” (He does sound a little fishy to me).

From still another romance novel: “He narrowed his eyes at her and said, ‘I would not hold your breath, sweetheart!’” (Fine. But will you hold my purse while I hold my own breath?).

From a science-fiction novel: “She thought the legions on his face should be seen by a dermatologist.” (Legions of what?).

From an old-fashioned romance novel: “We were given a dozen fresh eggs and some chickens in a coup.” (Quick!  Fricassee the chickens before they try to overthrow the government!).

From a modern romance: “After spending three hours sitting on those hard, uncomfortable bleachers, she stood and discreetly rubbed her butt ox.” (Butt ox? Is that like a hip cow?).

It’s amazing how just one word or wrong letter can change the entire meaning of a sentence. I’m glad I’m not the only one who sometimes makes careless mistakes when I write. I’m also glad I caught one particular goof I made before my book is published, otherwise I might have been embarrassed to see my own mistake being joked about on the Amazon website.

I wrote: “The man made her uncomfortable because he openly stared at her beasts when he talked to her.”

The comment probably would be something like, “How rude! Nothing worse than ogling a woman’s pets!”
 
 
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Friday, September 18, 2015

I'LL NEVER FLIP MY MATTRESS


 
I know a few people who make a habit of flipping their mattresses on a monthly basis so they can avoid the inevitable and much-dreaded mattress “sinkhole” for as long as possible.  I, however, have had my mattress for over six years now and haven’t flipped it even once.

That’s because it weighs about 900 pounds.

For years, when it came to buying mattresses, I gravitated toward the cheapest ones I could find. I remember one mattress and box-spring set I looked at that was only $199 because, according to the sales clerk, they were mismatched. I kind of suspected as much when I noticed that the mattress was yellow with brown flowers and the box spring was blue with white stripes. But that didn’t bother me. I figured the sheets would hide the differences anyway.

Still, I wasn’t certain I was being told the entire truth about why the price was so cheap.

"You didn't just slap some new coverings over a bunch of old, used mattresses and box springs so you could hide the bedbugs, did you?" I asked the sales clerk.

He laughed. "I assure you, everything is brand new."

So I continued to buy the cheap sets…which ended up lasting all of six months before the springs started to pop up like jack-in-the-box clowns and sadistically jabbed my husband and me in some very sensitive places.

And then there were the aforementioned sinkholes.  Because my husband was over twice my size, his side of the bed always sank pretty quickly.  So I’d spend my nights clinging by my fingertips to the edge of the mattress, so I wouldn’t roll downhill into his gully.

I can remember one night, after my husband’s knee surgery, when he couldn’t bend his legs to sit on the edge of the bed, so he flopped backwards, from a standing position, onto the mattress.  The wooden slats underneath the box spring made a noise that sounded like lightning striking a tree. The next thing I knew, he and the mattress were on the floor.

So six years ago, I finally decided to splurge on a good mattress and box spring, something that might last a little longer than baseball season. No more cheap fabric that would tear if my pajama buttons rubbed against it. No more metal springs wedging my ribs apart and flattening my liver. No more unfamiliar brands with names like, “Snores Galore.”

No, this time, I wanted nothing less than a famous-name, high quality mattress.

At the very first store I browsed in, I actually found the perfect mattress.  It was thick and solid and had a built-in puffy top, kind of like a giant pillow.  Even better, it was on sale for half-price.

At the clerk's insistence, I stretched out on it.  It had been so long since I'd slept on anything that didn't resemble a ski slope or a topographical map of the Himalayas, I'd forgotten what a level mattress felt like.  It was heavenly.  I actually could feel my back muscles writing me a thank-you note.

"And watch this!" the clerk said. He sat down hard on the other side of the bed and then bounced a few times. "Feel anything?"

I didn't feel a thing. My side of the bed never moved, not even a smidgeon.  I was sold.

"I'll take it!" I practically shouted at the guy.

"Great!" he said. "Will you be taking it with you today?  If not, you have 48 hours to pick it up."

I just stared at him. "You don't deliver?"

He shook his head. "Not on discounted items. They are strictly cash and carry."

Nice of him to conveniently forget to mention that fact until after he'd made me fall in love with the darned mattress, I thought bitterly. I could just picture myself lugging it on my back out to the car and then hoisting it up onto the roof and strapping it down.

"Well, I guess I won't take it, then," I said, sighing.

The guy obviously couldn't have cared less.  Before I could say another word, he'd already rushed off to assist another customer…someone who probably owned an 18-wheeler.

I finally ended up spending nearly $2,000 on a famous-brand memory-foam mattress.  It didn’t have springs or even need a box spring. It was just a thick slab of foam…that weighed about as much as a cruise ship.  I also bought a bed frame with a solid platform on it, to support the new mattress.

Believe me, getting used to a mattress that had no bounce at all wasn’t easy. The foam, which was made to contour and conform to the exact shape of the sleeper’s body, kind of felt like wet cement when I stretched out on it. For the first few seconds, my body sank into it, then stopped when the foam finally contoured to it.  I feared that if my 100-lb. dog ever jumped on me while I was lying in bed, I’d sink out of sight, kind of like in quicksand, and be smothered to death.

But as time passed, I learned to love the mattress, especially since it contained nothing that could squeak or poke me when I moved. The only problem was, it was too heavy for me to flip over.  In fact, just trying to lift the edges of it whenever I changed the sheets was enough to herniate some essential body part. I’m pretty sure if I ever do decide to try to flip it, I’ll have to call at least five or six other people, preferably weightlifters, to help me.

But considering the price I paid for it, I intend to keep this mattress for at least the next 30 years. I mean, I could have bought about 10 of my usual mattress sets for that amount of money. On the plus side, however, this mattress will prevent me from gaining weight. That’s because I’m afraid if I get any heavier, I’ll sink so far down into the foam, it will completely swallow me.

So if I ever go missing…check my mattress.
 
 
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Friday, September 11, 2015

A NIGHT OF SHOPPING MISHAPS


 
I realize that I seem to attract more craziness in my life than most people do. In fact, my friends have come to anticipate some really off-the-wall answer whenever they ask me what’s new. 

But the other night, when what was supposed to be a quick trip to Wal-Mart in Concord turned into a nearly three-hour adventure, even I had trouble believing everything that happened.

First of all, I recently adopted a dog, Eden, from a shelter and didn’t want to leave her and Willow, my other dog, alone for long, mainly because I had no idea what the two of them would do or get into while I was gone. Visions of returning to find my sofa looking like an explosion in a cotton factory filled my mind. So I vowed to be gone no longer than an hour.

I raced through Wal-Mart and made it to the checkout in record time. As I stood waiting, I remembered an advertisement I’d seen saying the store would match lower prices from other stores. The bottle of orange juice I was buying cost $3.99, but I knew it was only $3 at Market Basket.  Normally, I’d have bought the juice there, but as I said, I was pressed for time. I searched through my purse and found a recent sales receipt from Market Basket that showed I’d bought the same juice there for only $3.

So I showed the receipt to the cashier and asked her if I could get the juice for the lower price of $3, using their price-match guarantee.

She had a very thick accent, so I had trouble understanding her, but I thought she said something about needing to see a sales flyer. I explained that the price was the everyday price at Market Basket, not a sale price, so it wouldn’t be in a flyer. But she kept repeating she needed a flyer.

Finally, she called a supervisor over. She then tried to explain my request to the woman, but seemed to be struggling to find the right words, and the supervisor looked confused. By then, the line was forming behind me, and I really wanted to speed things along, so I decided to tell the supervisor what I wanted.

The minute I opened my mouth, however, the supervisor narrowed her eyes at me and snapped, “If you don’t mind, I’m trying to listen to her!” She then looked back at the cashier and ignored me.

I gritted my teeth and kept silent.

Finally, the supervisor said I could get the juice for $3. She walked off.

I used my debit card to pay for my purchases, and requested $40 cash back. Then, because I was ahead of schedule, I headed to Job Lot, the next block over, to buy some dog treats. When I opened my wallet to pay for my purchases, my eyes grew wide. The $40 wasn’t there!  I checked my Wal-Mart receipt to see if I’d been charged the $40 for the cash back. I hadn’t been charged $40…I’d been charged $100. I figured I must have punched the wrong numerical button on the “cash back” option. My stomach knotted.

Panicking, I rushed back to Wal-Mart. When I entered, I asked the greeter where I should go to get my money. He directed me to the service desk.

Well, when I approached the service desk and saw the supervisor who’d previously snapped at me standing there, I came close to just forgetting about the $100 and leaving. I mean, if she was irritated with me because I’d asked for a $1 discount on juice, I could only imagine how she’d react when I tried to get $100 back.  I figured she’d probably call security and have them come slap the cuffs on me.

So I was very careful with my wording when I spoke to her. I didn’t want to sound accusatory, even though I knew the cashier hadn’t given me the money.

I said, “I just realized that my $100 cash back isn’t in my wallet. Is there any way to find out if the money was given to me?”

She frowned at me. “I don’t have time right now. You’re going to have to wait.”

Fortunately, another employee was standing nearby and said she would check the register drawer for me and do an audit. She took my receipt and headed over to the register where I’d checked out, which now was closed. Then, using some sort of counting device, she went through all of the money, adding the totals of each denomination.

Finally, she said, shaking her head and sighing, “Yes, this register is $100 over. I’m very sorry. You shouldn’t have had to go through any of this or come all the way back here. There is no excuse for it.” She then handed me the $100 and initialed my receipt.

I can’t remember when I’ve ever felt more relieved.

When I’d earlier been in Job Lot, I also had intended to run into Target, which is in the same plaza, for a couple sale items I’d seen advertised. Even though it was getting late and I was concerned about the dogs, I decided to still go to Target, seeing I was so close by, and just quickly grab the items.

I found everything I needed and made a beeline for the checkout. There was a somewhat disheveled-looking man ahead of me in line. After the cashier rang up his purchase and announced the total, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a clump of money, which he tossed onto the counter. The bills were filthy, crumpled and in some cases, torn in half. The cashier stared at the money as if she thought it contained some deadly virus. Finally, she called for the supervisor and asked her if she could accept torn money. The supervisor said yes, but only if she taped it back together.

So I stood there while the man’s money was being taped. I glanced at the only other register that was open. That line was longer.

When the man’s transaction finally was completed, he once again reached into his pocket. This time, he pulled out a handful of loose change…and dumped it on top of the items I was purchasing.

“That’s for you,” he said, “for being patient.”  Then he left.

I counted $1.58.

So that’s why a one-hour shopping trip ended up taking me over three hours.

But on the bright side, I got a discount on my juice, I got my $100 back, and I even earned an extra $1.58.

When I finally returned home, I found only half of my dog Willow’s teddy bear lying on the rug.  I still haven’t found the other half, but I suspect Eden had something to do with its mysterious disappearance.

I’ll bet that supervisor at Wal-Mart could make her confess.

 

Friday, September 4, 2015

MY WEDDING WASN'T ANYTHING LIKE THE ONES ON TV

 

I’ve been watching quite a few TV reality shows about weddings lately, and all I can say is weddings certainly have changed since back when I got married.

First of all, most of the brides-to-be on TV hire professional wedding planners to handle their weddings. These planners basically take care of everything from scouting venues for the wedding to picking out the color of the bridesmaids’ underwear, to make certain it matches the bride’s selected color scheme.  In other words, the planners do just about all of the legwork and make wedding planning a whole lot easier for the bride.

I sure wish planners had been in vogue back when I got married. My mother and I were the only people planning my wedding. My husband-to-be couldn’t have cared less about things such as whether the bridesmaids’ bouquets should contain red carnations…or poison ivy. His favorite answer to my questions during the entire wedding-planning process was, “Anything you choose is fine with me, sweetheart,” which translated into, “If I had it my way, we’d elope to Las Vegas and be married by an Elvis impersonator.”

The main problem my mother and I encountered was we were clueless about how to plan a wedding. We became intimately acquainted with the yellow pages of the phone book as we looked up everything from rental halls to caterers.  Basically, we used the “eenie meenie” method.

On TV, most weddings nowadays have themes. One wedding was called, “Christmas in July.” Another was, “The Fairyland Forest.” And then there was the really strange “Nuptials of the Living Dead,” where the happy couple dressed as zombies, served punch that looked like blood, and had a tattoo artist set up a booth to tattoo guests, free of charge.

The theme for my wedding was…A Wedding.  I mean, back then, that’s all weddings were…just weddings. And the decorations usually didn’t involve bringing in hundreds of live trees to make a fairy forest, or using fake coffins for tables. No, decorating for a wedding in those days usually meant heading over to the popular Art Novelty store in Manchester and stocking up on paper streamers, paper bells, and wedding favors that consisted of white netting filled with those pastel-colored candy-covered almonds that were guaranteed to increase dentists’ business, because they were hard enough to crack diamonds.
 
Nowadays, the decorations involve Swarovski crystals, exotic flowers that have to be drop-shipped from Hawaii, and “unique” wedding favors like bottles of aged wine made by the bride’s grandfather, who personally stomped on the grapes himself, 20 years before the bride was born.

The tables at my wedding were long, school-cafeteria style tables covered with white paper tablecloths that resembled something butchers used when wrapping rib roasts. Today’s tables have marble tops, gold claw-foot legs, and are draped with so many different shades of silky material, they look like the clearance counter at a fabric store. And even the chairs have to be draped in fabric. They kind of remind me of those chairs covered with sheets in the old haunted houses in horror movies.

Also, according to the TV weddings, the bride and groom have to meet with a professional “mixologist” (a.k.a. “bartender” back in my day) to come up with a special drink for their wedding. This involves sampling and tasting such weird combinations as blackberry brandy and tequila, or pomegranate juice and peppermint vodka until they finally select their signature drink…or they get so drunk, they don’t care.

At my wedding, our signature drink was cheap champagne, which, if you closed your eyes while drinking it, tasted very similar to fizzy vinegar.

I’ve noticed that nowadays, many of the brides and grooms go all out for their first dance at the reception. No longer do they slowly waltz, gazing up lovingly into each other’s eyes. No, now they are doing everything from synchronized cartwheels to tap dancing. One groom on TV even lifted his wife over his head while he twirled all around the dance floor. If my husband and I ever had dared to try something like that at our wedding reception, we’d have spent our wedding night in separate beds – in the emergency room.

Many brides are choosing to buy two wedding gowns now – one somewhat modest style for the church ceremony, and a “va-va-voom” style for the reception. A bride on TV the other night spent over $12,000 on her two gowns. 

My wedding gown cost $300, and afterwards, two of my friends borrowed it for their weddings.

The wedding menus also have changed over the years. Now, there are hot hors d’oeuvres, followed by appetizers, prior to the meal.  Then for dinner, guests have a choice of meat, fish or poultry. After dinner, there is a dessert bar with enough cookies, cupcakes and pastries to supply a bakery. Many weddings even feature an area where you can select and bag your own candy to take home.

At my wedding, the only appetizer was fruit cocktail, the only dinner choice was roast beef, and the dessert was the wedding cake. The only candy was the aforementioned tooth-destroying candied almonds.

Now that I look back at how simple my wedding was, I fully can understand why professional planners are needed for today’s modern nuptials. I mean if my mother and I were so overwhelmed planning a wedding as basic as mine, I can only imagine how stressful it would be to plan one of the fancy, multi-faceted ones like I’ve seen on TV.

But my husband was lucky. Not once throughout the entire planning of our wedding was he even the slightest bit stressed. Nope, he just continued to shrug and say that anything I wanted was just fine with him.

Which was why I bought him a pretty pinkish-colored shirt to wear with his going-away suit.

 

 

 

ANNIVERSARY CONTEST

 

Time still remains to enter! Back in August of 1994, “My Life” was born. To celebrate the anniversary of this column, I’m holding a prize giveaway in honor of my readers. The top prize will be a $50 gift card good at any Applebee’s restaurant. There also will be several runner-up prizes. To enter, simply send your name, address and phone number to: Sally’s Anniversary Contest, PO Box 585, Suncook, NH 03275-0585. You also can enter via email (please use the subject heading, “Sally’s Anniversary Contest”) at sillysally@att.net. Enter as often as you’d like to increase your chances of winning. All entries must be received by September 15, 2015.  This contest is not affiliated in any way with Neighborhood News.