A Gift for Those of you who Write


My neighborhood bookclub met tonight to discuss Julie and Julia, by Julie Powell. (For those of you who don’t know, twenty-nine-year-old Julie Powell set a goal of making every recipe in Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking–all in one year, in a tiny apartment in New York. Lots of stocks made from scratch, jiggly aspic, organ meats and the slaying of lobsters. The movie version comes out next year.).  I would say we had mixed feelings about the book, but we loved our hostess’s yummy French-inspired refreshments and the good company. 

However, this post is really not about that.

When several writers get together and they witness or overhear something fascinating that simply cries out to be in a story, one of them is sure to scoop up the morsel and claim it as her own before the others have a chance to grab it. At bookclub tonight, I heard just such a morsel, and since I don’t think it will ever fit into one of my books, I’m hereby offering it to whoever wants it. It’s just to good to pass up!

One of the bookclub members told us that when she and her husband were house hunting in our neighborhood, they fell in love with one particular house. As they toured it, walking from room to room, they knew it was perfect for their growing family. The owners had already moved out all of their furnishings and the house was empty. . . except for a box on the kitchen counter. You’ve probably already guessed what was in the box: The human skull was surrounded by a bit of dirt, as if it might have been excavated only recently. Even those of you who don’t write must be wondering “Why? Why? Why?” Needless to say, my neighbor and her husband decided to continue their search for a house elsewhere. 

The obvious thing, and it could make a yummy short story, is that a nasty divorce battle resulted in the husband losing the house to his wife, who then needs to sell it. The husband sabotages the sale by planting the skull, because seriously, who’d buy a house with a skull in the kitchen? You’d never be able to walk in that room without picturing that icky box. But I bet a clever writer could come up with something less obvious, so I offer this impossible-to-pass-up morsel to you writers out there. Please do something wonderful with it. I bet this skull would make a delicious stock.



  1. leigh on August 8, 2008 at 8:46 am

    I just got back from a week on Topsail and one of the many books I devoured over the week was “My Life in Paris”–Julia Child’s autobiography. It was good, well-written and a fascinating look at Paris post-WWII. And, on the last night we were there, a turtle climbed on the dune outside our house and laid 50 eggs!!

  2. brenda on August 8, 2008 at 9:10 am

    While we were in England, we saw the “skull” from Hamlet in one of the museums–probably THE GLOBE–I took a picture of it…looks like the one above. 🙂 My question is where on earth did the person get a live skull to put in the house…???Imagine that…divorce can sure be acrimonious-hope I spelled that correctly–I am in the midst of packing for the ocean…my son’s…my flight leaves today-I will think of the skull story on the way, but I am afraid that as a fan of Shakespeare, I am limited on what to right. 🙂 Have you guys missed any neighbors???

  3. Margo on August 8, 2008 at 9:42 am

    Diane, the idea reminds me somewhat of a book I read many years ago by Anne Rivers Siddons which was called THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR. It was a fabulous novel and very out of character for Ms Siddons but still fantastic and creeeeeepy! I loved the book but she’s never written another 1 like it. I’m not a writer but I personally think all authors have at least 1 ‘ghost story’ in them and I’d love to see YOU write it! Brenda, have a wonderful vacation in Florida!…hope you find BLUE BISTRO while your there to enjoy reading while on the beach! Leigh, what a wonderful thing to experience on your last day at Topsail…I’m a great lover of nature and if I lived anywhere near a NC beach I would definitely be a volunteer for the turtles. You were so lucky! (-:

  4. Gina on August 8, 2008 at 10:12 am

    LOL! Diane, when I saw that skull picture, I thought you were going wacko coo coo on us. LOL..
    What an interesting story. Definitely “book worthy.”

  5. leigh on August 8, 2008 at 10:24 am

    There is a picture of the tracks as well as the volunteers up on the dune on my blog, from earlier this week. Our family has gone to Topsail more than 30 years now, and this was the first turtle experience we have had.

  6. Margo on August 8, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Leigh, I really enjoyed your website/blog and the wonderful pics of the turtle tracks and beach…how lucky to live so close to the sea and visit Topsail for 30 years straight! Not sure who Flipper is but she is ‘darling’ & I’m quessing your daughter. Thx for sharing the great photos. While growing up, our family stayed in the same cottage every summer at Clear Lake which has a great beach, sail boats, seashells and sea birds. My husband and I still visit Clear Lake every summer & I’ve participated in their annual art show in the park. I read on your blog that you had 8 straight days of migraines…I also suffer from them and have ‘cluster migraines’ which can last from 7-14 days straight. Oddly, I had 8 straight days of it right around the time you did…I take ‘imitrex’ for them and it seems to help.

  7. Denise on August 8, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    What a great ‘payback’ that would be if an ex-wife left the skull in the house!

  8. Gina on August 8, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    I feel for all the migraine sufferers. I’m right there with ya. I can’t take imitrex anymore, so now I’m on relpax. It works much better for me.
    I’m still laughing about that skull Diane. Too funny!

  9. brenda on August 8, 2008 at 10:53 pm

    I am at Miami Beach…my son moves right after I leave in l0 days…he is moving upstairs in a much nicer condo…
    Margo-I looked for the book in the airports…I plan to order both of hers from Amazon…
    Migraines-girls…I feel for you…I started them when I was 5-before they were called migraines…When I had hysterectomy at aged 25, they left abruptly=they were hormone related. Since they stopped my hormones 2 years ago, I have had 2 of them-horrible…but the ones before were so bad that I had accidents…in the car…lost my vision…there was no medication back then…One was so bad that I had my first stroke along with it (I have had 3 major strokes and 2 minor…) Migraines are nothing to fool around with…I do know that certain things I ate brought them on also…20 years of them…whew…but to last 8 days that doesn’t seem familiar…

  10. brenda on August 10, 2008 at 5:16 pm

    Just have to mention a couple of books-I checked out l7 books all written this year from my son’s library-I have one week to read them…Reading, smelling the ocean, and resting…just what I needed. A POISONED MIND by Natasha Cooper is intriguing to me because it takes place in London, Southward,…etc…
    SECRETS by Jude Devereaux…good and surprising…a book about the Kennedy family written by a “fake” nanny…fiction…I just read 24/7 and rest. Better get busy to go out and eat…Remember my son lives on the ocean, so I am here enough that I can take a week here and there to recoup…that’s what I am doing…
    Margo-you could paint here…Diane-there are tons of story ideas…but I realize you are staying in NC…

  11. The Barefoot Contessa, a.k.a. Margo Pinkerton on August 13, 2008 at 8:19 am

    I forgot to say that I really love the new look of your website. Having seen some of the potential iterations, I must say that you (and John) really succeeded in getting a great look that reflects your personality.
    Congratulations, and hugs again,

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