Marie Wells Coutu



snake oil cure
How gullible can I be? Seems like I’m willing to try all kinds of remedies to lose weight, look younger, or get rid of brown spots, skin tags, and spiders. Can you relate? Apple cider vinegar will help me lose weight? Tried it. (Nope, didn’t work. Maybe because I kept […]

Gullible’s Trials: Weird Remedies



fireman responds to alarm
The fire alarm woke me just before midnight. I was staying on the second floor of a hotel in Georgia. There’d been a false alarm during the day a few days earlier, but it shut off after a minute or two. I peeked out in the hallway and saw people […]

Don’t Ignore the Alarm




Words are like jewels
To a writer, words are the tools of the trade. We agonize over finding just the right word to convey a specific meaning. Don’t use “walked” when “strode,” “shuffled,” or “ambled” is a better fit. Sometimes, it’s not the word, it’s the order of the words in a phrase or sentence. […]

Words Are Like Jewels


The way is hard
When I travel by car, I enjoy noticing unusual road signs, especially town names. I’ve had a fascination with odd place names for a long time. I remember Monkey’s Eyebrow, a real town in Kentucky, and Wildcat Hollow (pronounced “holler”), a vague location where my father grew up. Minnesota has […]

Which Way to Go?



what to say
Ever worry about what you’re going to say in a crucial moment? I sure do. I’m heading to a writer’s conference this week, with some anxiety about being effective when I pitch my story idea to agents and editors. But there are other times I feel inadequate about expressing my […]

What to Do When You’re Speechless


Like hundreds of thousands of others, we spent much of the weekend waiting for and watching the progress of Hurricane Irma. We’re safe in Iowa, but we have many friends in Fort Myers and other parts of Florida, and we’re concerned about our winter home there. I think the waiting may […]

Waiting for Irma



I’ve been grandparenting for the past week, and in the process got a bad cold, so I’m following my own advice and taking Labor Day off. Here’s what I posted a year ago. I think it remains relevant: A character in the Sunday comics this week mistakenly thought Labor Day had something […]

What Is Labor Day?


Eclipse crowds
Are you one of the millions of people in the path of totality for the eclipse today? Is there a crowd where you were, or did you watch it with just a few people? In my hometown of Hopkinsville, Kentucky–one of the sites with the longest duration of totality–some hundred thousand […]

One of the Crowd