Laura J Merrell, Sidelines Columnist
Laura J Merrell

About me
Hello, my name is Laura J and one thing I'm very passionate about these days is paying my rent. But in all seriousness, I have very catholic tastes. Years ago when I worked as an intern and then a staff writer at the Dayton City Paper (weekly indie), I was sometimes allowed to write a cover story on a topic of my own choosing. I rather gloried in choosing unexpected topics such as the elderly (five over-eighties talk about their lives), second amendment enthusiasts (gun owners), and the deaf community of Dayton, Ohio. I've always liked the way the New Yorker and PBS juggle their topics and I suppose I was trying to create some of the same effect. This is the article about the topic that you didn't know you were interested in until you read the article.
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1 year ago

The Bird and the Bastard

I've always been told that in pitching a book, especially if it's fiction, likening your work to something well-known that's already on the market will go a long way in letting the prospective agent or publisher know ...

Uber Alles

A couple of months ago I spoke with an Uber rep on the phone about some issues I was having, like the fact that Uber was lowering its fares and had recently started taking an additional five percent out of ...

The Queer Jane Eyre

In 1948 the young Truman Capote published his first novel, Other Voice, Other Rooms, complete with the scandalous portrait on the back cover of young TC reclining on a sofa in a hound’s-tooth vest, his back-room eyes and cupid-bow ...

Pitching a Cultural Fit

Like many who perform blue-collar work and hold no-collar ambitions in our brave new world, my job performance can be rated by my clients on a scale of one to five stars. Feedback about my job performance is also encouraged ...

2 years ago

Necessary Evils

Like a lot of people, I'd enjoy being rich. Not necessarily rich enough to buy an island but rich enough to buy a new car without dickering over the price. Lots of folks enjoy bargaining but I don't ...

Keeping the Keepers

In the late 1980s, the American 'every boy' Charlie Brown was reinvented as a child with yellow hair cut in a flattop who had to be watched like a hawk and whose signature 'good grief' was replaced with 'don't ...

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1 year ago

One thing I miss living in California is Christmas snow and the sounds of "Lucy & Linus" playing on a TV, radio, or PA. For me a comfort movie would probably be Hairspray. For a comfort book I always recommend Laurie ...

There are times when present tense "works" but they are not frequent. I think it depends on the voice of the narrator and the type of story being told. It seems like present tense would be more for a first-person ...

P.S. What's the writers' market like in Frasier Town for female writers who are bad cultural fits? I've never been there but I'd love to see it sometime. Vancouver also.

Not at all, Rachel T Gupta. I was inspired by the George Davis quote to draw the parallels between Jane Eyre and Charity Eleanor Sintz, my protagonist. To put it in a clam shell, Jane is the daughter of a ...

 In reply to The Queer Jane Eyre

Sorry, I meant to say, 'this will sound odd.'

This will sound compared to your own experiences but when I was in high school, I loved shopping for Christmas presents at the drugstores. There was one in the county seat where I grew up in Indiana and I enjoyed ...

Jill Koly...Well, since my protagonist is gay, she doesn't fall for a man with a crazy wife. Instead she falls for a woman with a crazy ex-girlfriend and temporarily loses her own mind in the eventual fallout.

 In reply to The Queer Jane Eyre

Well, mierda pasa and sometimes it happens at a monumental level, like wardrobe malfunctions at the Super Bowl. I would say some sort of very large gift or benefit should be made to Miss Columbia to make her better off ...

 In reply to Miss Humiliation
2 years ago

I literally went for broke writing this book.

 In reply to A Slow-Growing Tree

Sounds like Dr. Doolittle.

Mikhail Gorbachev had a reputation for being a decent sport. And here at home everyone loved dear little Oksana Bauil of Ukraine in the 1994 winter Olympics when she took the gold while Nancy Kerrigan of the mangled knee took ...

MAS*H, The Facts of Life, The Donny & Marie Show (watched it on Friday nights with my grandma), and a slew of shows from the BBC that you used to only find on public broadcasting.

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