Winnie the Pooh—the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

You can’t think of the famous author A.A. Milne without associating him with his sweet, much-loved bear, Pooh—and Milne hated that association. But, let’s start at the beginning:

First the good. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories happened because of Milne’s love for his son, Christopher Robin. Christopher became a character in his father’s children’s books as did Christopher’s stuffed animals: a bear, a piglet, a tiger, a kangaroo and a downtrodden donkey. Milne chose a forest near their home as the setting for his stories, and “The Hundred Acre Wood” became the enchanted forest in the Pooh books, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). Milne’s books became wildly successful and brought fame to the otherwise unrecognized author.

Now the bad. Milne hated being cast as a children’s book author. He had written three novels, four screenplays, and 18 plays for adults, all forgotten due to the success of Winnie the Pooh. “A writer wants something more than money for his work: he wants permanence” Milne said, and for him that meant a legacy as a great novelist or playwright.

And here the story becomes downright ugly. As an adult, the real Christopher Robin Milne resented being a character in his father’s books. In his autobiography, Christopher wrote, “(My father) had filched from me my good name and had left me with nothing but the empty fame of being his son.”

During A.A. Milne’s final years, Christopher rarely saw his father. The elder Milne suffered a stroke in 1952 and was confined to a wheelchair for four years until his death just days after his 74th birthday.

The Winnie the Pooh books continue to bring joy to children throughout the world, but few know the sad story of their author and his son, the real Christopher Robin.

If you want to read more about the real Christopher Robin and how his story ends, click on this link: “Christopher Robin Milne”.

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Aspiring Writers on Social Media—Think Before You Post

If you are an aspiring writer, you know that social media is an important tool for connecting with writers, editors, agents, and the publishing world in general. Connecting on sites like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others, can help you build a community around your interest in writing. This can be an important first step toward publication and then, once you are published, social media will also help you connect with readers and market your book.

How you interact on social media is just as important as your presence there. The critical thing to remember is this: Think before you post.

I’ll use Facebook as an example here, but the idea extends to all forms of social media.

As an aspiring writer on Facebook, you will probably join writers’ groups where you can interact with other aspiring and published authors. These groups are a great way to connect, share information, learn the publishing process, and even meet editors and agents. The connections you make in these groups might also become Facebook “friends”. You send and accept friend requests, and then you interact with these people on your profile along with your family members, neighbors, friends from high school, etc . . .

And this is when things can get sticky.

Think about who your “friends” are. Have you added friends who are editors or agents? Do you have friends who work in the industry and might connect you with someone who can help you get published? Remember that these key connections see everything on your status. How you present yourself there can be an indicator of how it might be to work with you.

Think before you post.

Your key connections will see how often your posts are negative or complaining.

A positive attitude is an indicator that you might be easy to work with.

Your key connections will notice how you interact with comments.

How do you react if someone disagrees with something you post? An important part of working with editors and agents is being open to criticism and dealing with it professionally. Agents and editor “friends” on social media might notice if you are polite, careful, and thoughtful in your responses.

Do you engage in disrespectful speech or gossip?

Talking disrespectfully about others, especially other writers, agents, editors, publishing houses, is never helpful. What you say publicly does matter and does get remembered.

When you post about yourself, do you show you are confident but also humble?

Confidence in your abilities indicates you don’t give up easily. Humility shows your willingness to learn. You need both confidence and humility when working with editors and agents, especially on that first book.

What about your personal beliefs?

Think about how much you want to share with those key connections (editors, agents) about your politics or other ideas that might be controversial.

The takeaway is this: If you are serious about getting your book published and you post on social media sites, remember that “friends” on social media might extend beyond those you know personally. If you have invited agents, editors and others in the industry to interact with you on social media, remember they see everything you post. Think before you post. Ask yourself, “Is this something I should share with someone I want to work for?

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10 Funny Ways to Kill a (Fictional) Character

Do you enjoy cozy mysteries where the author finds unique, even funny, ways to do away with a character? I do. One of my favorite authors is Kathleen Ernst. She writes the Chloe Ellefson mystery series. Chloe is a curator at Old World Wisconsin, an outdoor living history museum. She finds dead characters in the most unusual places. I won’t give them away. If you enjoy cozy mysteries give the Chloe series a try.

When you combine an unusual death (minus the gore), an amateur sleuth, and a community of quirky characters, you can create a cozy mystery readers love.

What are some humorous ways to kill off a character? Here are a few ideas:

• A star football player is murdered by an imposter wearing his team’s mascot costume.

• Small-town mayor dies when a clown on a motorcycle runs over him during the town’s Founder’s Day parade.

• A futuristic character is approached by a robot shooting paper airplanes–but one of the airplanes is loaded!

• Farmer gets locked in the hen house and is pecked to death by rabid chickens.

• A drunk passes out in a big pile of leaves curbside and is scooped into a garbage truck.

• Candymaker, working overtime and alone, drowns in a vat of chocolate.

• Contestant dies after consuming 10 pounds of baked beans in an eating contest. (Oh, the possibilities!)

• Grammarian is crushed when a shelf of dictionaries falls on her.

• A fisherman on a riverbank is killed when an eagle carrying a tortoise drops the tortoise on the fisherman’s head. (Don’t laugh, this really happened to Aeschylus, the great Athenian author of tragedies.)

• A large molasses storage tank bursts, and a wave of molasses rushes through the streets killing anyone in its path. (This actually happened in Boston in 1919.)

If you are an author stuck looking for a unique way to kill off a character, Wikipedia offers a list of “real” unusual/ ironic deaths that occurred from 620 BC to the present. Also, check out Springhole.net’s “Cause of Death” generator, “Murder Mystery Victim” generator, and more.

Happy writing!

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