Marie Curie – the Woman I Most Admire

Marie-CurieThe woman I most admire was shy and suffered from depression. However, she was so determined and so full of empathy for the human race that she spent three entire years of her life shovelling heavy dirt to find an elusive element that she thought might benefit human kind. Marie never faultered in the face of hard work; In fact, she drove herself sometimes to complete breakdown. She never faultered in the face of danger either, as she spent another four years of her life in proximity to bombs and bullets to rescue soldiers from loss of limbs and even lives.

That woman was Marie Curie. She suffered the loss of a sister when she herself was seven, followed by the loss of her mother when she was eleven. The loss of her loving husband by a traumatic accident triggered profound depression, but she found the courage from within to continue with her life during which she founded atomic physics, promoted new ways to fight cancers, and personally took medical technology to the dangerous warfront of WWI to save soldiers from amputation and death.

The fact that Marie Curie overcame personal woes and personal danger to help others speaks to her inner morality. Even Albert Einstein, who sometimes found her irritating in her lack of flexibility, admired her when he said, “I have always admired Marie Curie. Not only did she do outstanding work in her lifetime … and help humanity greatly … she invested all her work with the highest moral quality.” Marie was a stubborn woman who insisted on what was right in every detail. For example, she imposed her conviction that the American check for gift money raised for her Radium Institute be made out to the institute, and not inaccurately to her. She kept her promises, such as the promise to her husband by personally taking her radium to safety when the German’s invaded France in WWI.

Intelligence, perseverance, integrity, and courage all combined in one feisty little woman. What a role model!


Read more about Marie Curie’s accomplishments in Lexi and Marie Curie Saving Lives in World War I.

How I Make Characters Work

Creating characters for a story is such fun that I can’t imagine why anyone would compare it to giving birth! Obviously a story character is born via imagination and doesn’t incur the responsibilities of infant care such as changing diapers and losing sleep. Well, maybe a few winks are sacrificed!

I would guess that some writers have to put in a lot of labor as they have been taught to make arduous lists of their characters’ traits, including physical appearance. What a bore that exercise must be!

My grandmother always said, “Fancy is as fancy does.” You may have heard a version of this as “Handsome is as handsome does.” (This proverb was twisted in Forrest Gump as “Stupid is as stupid does,” but I’m drifting from the point.) This first proverb first appeared in Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale in 1387!

The point is that it doesn’t matter how handsome you are – if you’re mean and nasty, you’re ugly. It follows that we are all judged by our deeds, and so it seems in stories we learn about the characters by what they say and do, and not by boring descriptions. Least of all needed is a physical description. I might picture the old Wizard in my story Verity as looking like Sean Connery, but a meticulous description of the actor would be counterproductive if the reader pictures him as Leonard Nimroy. Unless a physical characteristic is germane to the story, I leave it out.

The Duchess in Verity never needed labeling. She condemned herself with every word and every action. One of Grimm’s tales does this graphically. In the Three Little Men in the Wood, the little men put spells on two girls, so that one kind, generous and beautiful girl becomes more beautiful, and every time she speaks a piece of gold drops from her mouth. The other girl is stingy and haughty, so she becomes uglier every day, and for every word she speaks, a toad springs out of her mouth. As a kid, I loved that!

Now I think of that when at a social occasion a woman – seemingly beautiful and sophisticated – asks another woman, “Does everyone here buy their clothes at the dollar store? Or did they – heaven forbid – make them?” She might as well have toads spring from her mouth.

The villains are easy to write.

For a character to do something “out of character,” it must be for a compelling reason – well depicted. Think of the character who shows up with bombs strapped to his body. He’s shown as a family man, faithful to his wife and satisfied with his job, and yet here he is in a crowded setting ready to blow himself and others to smithereens. It turns out his wife and kids have been kidnapped and the real villain is forcing him to this horrible behaviour. It’s well done on TV shows again, and again, and again, and again.

There are millions and millions of possibilities when one invents characters and their stories. It’s like being in a pastry shop and being allowed to choose six different sweets for free! Purr-sonally, I go more lick-smacking gaga in a stationary store. I wonder why?


Alex and Lexi – two new ‘purrsonalities’

Two new “purrsonalities” in  the world of children’s literature are Alex (Alexander Catt) and Lexi (Alexander Catt II). Alex, a black and white short-haired cat was born in a temple in ancient Egypt during Ramses II reign as pharaoh. He was a polite and dignified cat who lived each of his past eight lives to the fullest that his stomach could manage. Ever hungry, he sought out the best chefs of the day who usually cooked for discriminating people and thus Alex met and stayed with royalty, artists, inventors, explorers and the like.

Sometimes, his appetite for food led him into adventures and misadventures. He tried his best to avoid trouble, which meant avoiding dogs, water and the conflict of war, all of which he hated. His ‘meowmoirs’ cover ancient Egypt, ancient China, medieval times, the Renaissance, the Elizabethan Era, the revolutionary times, the Victorian Era, and the World War days of the twentieth century.  

Lexi, Alex’s son, was also a short-haired black and white cat but there the similarity ends because Lexi loves trouble and attracts it. As a safeguard, he usually lives with doctors, but relies on the twitch in his tail to warn him of trouble brewing. Pompous and a little abrasive Lexi irritates his adversaries, but usually he finishes his adventures by acquiring new and unlikely friends. Like his father, Lexi tries to take credit for inventions and new ideas that he witnesses by claiming that he inspired them. This kitty quirk is forgivable because he tells such a p(L)awsible “tail” and he’s such a lovable rascal.

Follow the ‘tails’ of both cats as they recall their historical adventures in their ‘meowmoirs’ for children of all ages.