Do Lies Come in Different Colors?

the color of lies

Today’s burning question is: Do lies come in different colors?

I discussed this topic in a recent insurance ethics seminar I taught and I’m curious about your opinion. Some of my students indicated white lies are okay and other types of lies are not. What do YOU think?

I didn’t know lies came in assorted colors so I asked my students, “What’s the difference between a white lie, a red lie, and a purple lie?”

A white lie, my students said, is a lie that spares another person’s feelings or doesn’t hurt someone else. That got me thinking about other people’s feelings.

How can we predict with any accuracy how another person truly feels? Why should we modify our opinions based on our perception of what another person’s feelings might be? Are we truly responsible for how another person feels and responds to the truth?

Keep in mind that our opinion isn’t necessarily the truth–it’s our belief or perspective. In fact, our opinion often changes over time.

Sometimes, when people ask us a question, they’re asking for an opinion, not a fact: Do I look fat in this dress?

There’s no truthful answer to this question because no universal, factual response exists. I may think the dress suits you perfectly and Edna may disagree. If Edna decides to tell a white lie and say No, honey, you look great and save your feelings, she’s not telling HER truth.

Later on in the evening, after you decided to go to a party wearing the dress Edna likes, what if someone else tells you the dress is too tight and you should have chosen something else to wear? Might Edna’s words still hurt when you realize she told a white lie? Might Edna have spared your feelings by telling HER truth in a mindful manner? Personally, honey, your red dress is the most flattering dress you own. If I were you, I’d wear that instead.

At other times, when people ask us a question, they want a factual response. Why didn’t you answer the phone last night? There IS a truthful answer to this question. Maybe I didn’t hear the phone ring. If that’s the case, saying so would be a truthful response. But what if I didn’t hear the phone ring because the battery died, I turned the phone off when I got home to avoid your call, or I left it at home when I rented a motel room to fool around with your spouse?

Not providing the entire truth might be misleading … and an outright lie.

But when might it be a “white” lie? If the phone’s battery died and I chose not to charge it because I wanted silence, not providing that information might be considered a white lie. In the other two scenarios, not telling the truth is an outright lie. What color lie would it be? Red, purple, blue?

Let’s face it, a lie is meant to deceive. When we lie, we distort the truth to protect ourselves, not to spare other people’s feelings.

It’s easier to tell a white lie and say either “yes” or “no” than produce one or two complete sentences that convey how we truly feel … while also considering the other person’s feelings. It’s also easier to tell other types of lies to prevent the fallout from sharing the truth, whether it’s OUR truth or THE truth.

In closing, let me share the universal meaning of some colors in the rainbow:

  • Red is the color of passion and energy. It’s also a sign of danger or warning.
  • Yellow is the color of happiness and optimism, however, it’s also a sign of cowardice.
  • Green is the color of nature, harmony, and health and is universally associated with envy.
  • Purple is the color of royalty, spirituality, and imagination. It’s also connected with immaturity and sensitivity.
  • White is the color of purity and innocence, yet it can be indicative of coldness, emptiness, or distance.

When we lie, even when telling white lies, we do so primarily because of our OWN feelings. Feelings that usually represent the flip side of what is good and positive. So yes, I guess lies do come in different colors.

What Comes First – Thanksgiving or Christmas?

Once and for all, someone … okay me … needs to answer the question: What comes first, Christmas or Thanksgiving?

What Comes First?

Yes, if we list the two holidays in ABC order, Christmas comes first. But if we look at the calendar, Christmas doesn’t. Aside from chronology, several excellent reasons exist to remind us (and retailers) that the Christmas caboose belongs at the end of the annual holiday train.

When we begin hyping Christmas before Thanksgiving (or, God forbid, Halloween), we gyp ourselves of the thoughtful, mindful period during which we can look back over the previous months and take stock. What went well? What didn’t go as planned? What will we do differently in the future? What will we avoid doing? And, most importantly, what are we grateful for?

When we allow negative thoughts to sour our souls and dispositions to the point that we need a chubby guy in a red suit with a herd of caribou to cheer us up, something is definitely wrong. We dilute the spirit of what Christmas is truly about by starting early. Then there’s the issue of what Christmas means to Christians, which I am. That’s a consideration for me. But, because you may not be Christian, I won’t go there.

I think we use the presents and other Ho-Ho-Ho stuff to extend the Christmas season, not to emphasize the specialness of it. And by extending Christmas at the front end, the Thanksgiving season has been effectively reduced to a single day (or, for some of us, a four-day weekend).

Thanksgiving?

In the fall, I appreciate the way the world slows down and warms up. It’s the autumn season that truly celebrates warmth, not the summer. Summer is about fire and sparkle. Autumn is about slowing down and wringing every last drop out of the world. We send the clock backward so we can enjoy one more hour of daylight each day. Instead of tossing steaks and burgers on the grill on Sunday afternoons, we hunker down and roast hams or turkeys. We start using our fireplaces for their intended purpose rather than just for display.

Both my parents have passed, and I miss them just as much as I’m thankful for them. That’s probably why Thanksgiving is so important to me. In fact, when I moved into their home and placed my stamp on it, I chose my mother’s favorite room for my office. After the remodel, the dining room’s chandelier is absent, as are the big family table and the china teacup collection. But every day–especially in November (which was also Mom’s birthday month)–this room echoes with the memories of Dad’s homemade turkey gravy, Mom’s store-bought pumpkin pie, and arguing over who would sit at the kid’s table in the kitchen instead of with the grownups in the dining room.

Christmas?

I understand the appeal of the Christmas season. For example, my nephew’s wife is a big fan of Christmas–she’d celebrate it all year if she could. Her philosophy is that the season makes her happy and there’s nothing wrong with doing what makes you, and your family, happy. She loves the colorful lights and decorations, the way her kids get excited at the prospect of family traditions and get-togethers, and the way other people are much more friendly and accommodating at this time of year. So, yes, I get her perspective, too. I’m all for doing what makes you happy.

So, I’ve talked myself in a complete circle. What was the question again?

What comes first, Christmas or Thanksgiving?

I guess the chronological date, the looking back before we can move forward, and the spirit that lives inside us is what comes first. Maybe I, in my own way, begin celebrating the true spirit of Christmas in November … and just call it Thanksgiving.

Words Better Left Unsaid: Do You Know What They Are?

The Words

I began hosting The Writer’s Voice podcast nearly a year ago. In each episode, I chat with one or more writers about the craft of writing, the process of writing, and books. I also attempt to draw out the true personality of my guests so listeners get a glimpse of the person behind the writer. This week, the podcast’s editor, Mike Royer, suggested that when writers plan what they’re going to say in advance of each episode they should also focus on … words better left unsaid.

Not only does he edit the audio and video for each podcast and its trailers, he is also a highly auditory person. In other words, he focuses on the music of the words my guests and I speak. According to Mike, attending to the words better left unsaid is the favorite part of his job. He has told me this before. Many times. In many different ways. For some reason, I never got it.

So, this week, he showed me.

The Sounds

Showing versus telling is a concept we writers learn early on in our careers. The concept is pounded into our heads over and over at writing workshops, during conferences, and in how-to books. We also learn to read our work aloud, especially the dialogue, to ensure the rhythm of the words, and the cadence and pacing, sounds right.

Until recently, I didn’t understand that we writers need to follow these same rules when we appear in public, participate in marketing events, and–yes, host or appear on a podcast. I also learned that showing how not to do something is equally as important as showing how to actually do it.

The Words Better Left Unsaid

When you hear the music of words better left unsaid, you’ll understand exactly what I mean … just listen!

Outtakes 1

Stay tuned for more outtakes – some of them are really funny!

If you’d like to learn more about The Writer’s Voice podcast, see past writers who appeared, or find links to listen, watch the YouTube trailers, or request a guest spot, click here.

Mystery Making Event on March 6

SW Florida Reading Festival Mystery Making March 6, 2021.

You might be wondering what a mystery making event is. Well, let me explain…

Mystery Making is the brainchild of Sisters in Crime New England, a writers organization of which I’m a member. Back when we writers made live presentations, mystery making events were primarily conducted in libraries. A panel of four writers would work with an audience to create a brand-new mystery.

In a mystery making event, members of the audience suggest:

  • Character names
  • The plot and the setting (including time period)
  • Who the unsuspecting victim of foul play is
  • Who the villain is
  • What the motivation for the dastardly deed is

Nowadays, we’re conducting these events virtually and on March 6, Sisters in Crime New England (SinCNE) will be joining our sisters from the Florida Gulf Coast Chapter at the SW Florida Reading Festival. The Florida Gulf Coast Chapter’s booth at the festival includes recorded and live events.

Four of our chapter’s board members will present a live Mystery Making event from 1 to 2 p.m. Eastern time on Saturday, March 6. Join Lisa Lieberman, Lorraine Sharma Nelson, Tonya Price, and me. Registration information will be available soon.

Main Stage Event

Here is a video of a Main Stage event, Noir at the Bar, hosted by the Lee County Library System. Click the link or image to launch the video.

Save the date for Noir at the Bar, a main stage event at the Southwest Florida Reading Festival.

More Information

The SW Florida Reading Festival runs from March 1 to 13, is free, and involves the following types of activities:

  • Author panels
  • Author presentations
  • Book selling
  • Live author meet-and-greet sessions

Children’s programs air at 6 p.m. and adult programs air at 7 p.m. Featured authors appear in virtual online booths on Saturdays. More information and registration for the event can be found online here.

When the registration URL is available for Linda’s mystery making event on March 6, it will appear here.

Missing My Parents

Show my parents at their 40th anniversary party

50 years ago today I moved into the house where I’m living now. This anniversary is poignant and I’m missing my parents.

I was 14 years old when my family moved here and it was my parents’ “new” house. I knew I’d never see my friends again (we moved 30 miles) and I thought my life was over. (True to the friends part, false to the life being over part.)

Well, my parents are gone but the house is here and it is “new” once again. Life took me on some wild rides and deposited me at an unexpected destination. I’m missing my parents, but find much comfort in being in their home. It’s redecorated (no more flowered wallpaper, thank goodness!) and reflects my personality. But I kept one item in each room that belonged to one or both of my parents.

My parents’ presence remains, emotionally and physically. Appreciate your parents. They might not be perfect, but they’re far more important to you than you could possibly imagine.

P.S. Before (Mom’s dining room) and after (my office). If you ever attend one of my webinars (or a Zoom call) you’ll see her bookcases in the background.

Mystery Making with Sisters in Crime New England

Advertising the February 10th Mystery Making Event
Hosted virtually by the Barrington Public Library

Join my writer friends at me at Mystery Making with Sisters in Crime New England. I am (and have always been) active in a number of writers organizations–and never more so than since joining Sisters in Crime New England (SinCNE).

Mystery Making is the brain child of SinCNE. It involves a panel of four writers who create a brand-new mystery novel, on the spot. Members of the audience suggest character names and other story elements for us to use.

In the past, we hosted these events live and in-person, but the virtual events are just as much fun. Join Edith Maxwell, Sarah Smith, Tonya Price, and me on Tuesday, February 10 from 7 to 8 p.m. to plot a mystery!

Registration ends at 9 a.m. on the day of the event, so register now. Visit the Barrington Public Library for more information or to register.

Advertising the SinCNE mystery making event on February 10

The organization lists future events on its website. My next Mystery Making with Sisters in Crime New England takes place on March 6, along with fellow writers Lisa Lieberman, Lorraine Sharma Nelson, and Tonya Price. Join us at the Florida Gulf Coast Sisters in Crime Southwest Florida Reading Festival.

Insuring Cannabis Businesses – Issues and Problems

Illustrate a cannabis plant

Insuring cannabis businesses can be problematic. During the course of the past two years, I’ve written several new insurance continuing education (CE) online and webinar courses for my client, A.D. Banker & Company. One of the most recent webinars is Insuring Cannabis Risks.

The course is the brainchild of inquiries submitted by individuals who attended a free monthly webinar I co-host with A.D. Banker vice president, Pam Reihs. During each 1-hour Insurance Trends Webinar, Pam and I talk about insurance topics of current relevancy. How to insure cannabis businesses is always at the top of the list. Questions we often receive are:

  • Why isn’t cannabis/marijuana legal in all the states?
  • In what states IS marijuana legal?
  • What about hemp, that’s legal, isn’t it?
  • Why is it so hard for cannabis businesses to establish relationships with banks and credit card companies?
  • What insurance companies write insurance for cannabis businesses?

The insurance CE webinar answers these and other questions for licensed insurance professionals. I recently wrote two blog posts for A.D. Banker that summarizes the most important information contained in the course. So, for you insurance and non-insurance people alike, feel free to visit those blog posts:

Check back as I provide ongoing updates about this evolving insurance marketplace. To register for the insurance CE webinar, click here. You can find my insurance webinar schedule here.

Winning and Losing–and Temper Tantrums

Even if your parents didn’t teach you anything about winning and losing , when you attended school you learned:

Winning and Losing: What not to do…

  1. Lying on the ground, stomping your feet, and wailing at the top of your voice was a lousy, ineffective blackmail scheme.
  2. Punching Johnny in the nose because he made fun of the way you swung the baseball bat was a better way of being benched than becoming a home run hitter.
  3. Badmouthing those who weren’t as smart and talented you were did not earn you the spot as most popular. In fact, it didn’t earn you any spot on the Most Mentionables.

I only tried #1, above, once. FYI, pulling it in the grocery store and watching my mother scoot down the aisle and pretend I wasn’t her 5-year-old was both illuminating and humbling.

Life’s Lessons about Winning and Losing

Life teaches us many lessons, many of which are repeated often throughout our lifetimes. One of those lessons is this: we can’t always have what we want. When we can’t get what we want, we have several choices, among them:

  • Keep doing what we’re doing, without changing our methods or attitude.
  • Change our methods of trying to achieve what we want.
  • Change our attitude and accept that we can’t have what we want–either in this moment, or ever.

We should keep these lessons and choices in mind as the national political process progresses. No matter the outcome of this year’s presidential election, some people will feel they’ve won and others will feel they’ve lost.

In reality, none of us will truly lose and some of us surely will not get what we want. Always remember that life is a cycle. Spring turns into summer, fall transitions into winter. Presidents come and go.

We can stomp our feet, wail in grief, attack the people who did get what they want. We can use our words to spew our disappointment disrespectfully. In the long run, though, childish behavior won’t make anyone feel better. It certainly won’t change the fact that we didn’t get what we wanted.

Moving forward…

I hope and pray that we, as a country and as individuals, can move forward without focusing on winning and losing after the election is decided. I hope that if we feel we “won,” we can do so without gloating. I hope that if we feel we “lost,” we can do so without exhibiting spiteful behavior.

I also hope and pray that we will begin working together.

It is impossible for a country with more than 300 million people to have unanimous consent. But it is possible for us to all act like grownups and do what we can to make our lives, and this country, better. If we are unable to make changes in this cycle, we always have another opportunity to so in the next cycle.

Want to help Make a Mystery?

Join us for a Mystery Making event.

Join me and fellow mystery writers Debra H. Goldstein, Tilia Klebenov Jacobs, and Clea Simon brainstorm together to create a brand new mystery. Give us your audience suggestions and help make a mystery!

The Lucius Beebe Memorial Library in Wakefield, MA hosts the event in coordination with Sisters in Crime New England. In the past, we presented these events in person but haven’t let the pandemic slow us down. Help make a mystery by registering and logging in on the date of the event. Then, once we begin, simply suggest character names, murder plots, settings. Feel free to suggest anything else that adds to the fun!

A maximum of 50 people can attend and the cost is $0, so register now. Click this URL to register: https://wakefieldlibrary.assabetinteractive.com/calendar/mystery-making-with-sisters-in-crime-new-england/

Click here to learn more about my writing events.

I participate in many of these mystery makings throughout the year. I also appear at other events such as book signings, author panels, and author interviews. Stay tuned for my next two books in the upcoming months. The second edition of Second Time Around will be available and a new book, co-written with author Herb Holeman is waiting for a publication date.

Perspectives about Your Parents

Dad and me.

Today is Dad’s birthday. The ache of missing him competes with all the memories, the laughter, the certainty that no matter what–he was always there for me. What are your perspectives about your parents?

When We’re Kids

Of course, in the way of children, I wish the way he’d been there for me had fallen more in line with MY wishes.

And that’s how it is with kids. They think the world revolves around them. They think they should always be the first thing their parents think about when they wake in the morning and the last image they see before falling asleep at night. For the most part, parents do just that.

The reason parents don’t put their kids first all the time is because they’re not perfect. They have blind spots. Their own hopes and wishes. Histories and secrets they don’t share. Stuff they wouldn’t ever consider sharing with their children. Why? Because they want to protect and keep them safe. Even if it puts them in a bad light.

Relationship Perspectives

I look back on my relationship with my father as having occurred in three distinct phases. The first was that of a child and it was the longest period. It ended when my mother died 22 years ago. Until then, he was the autocratic parent and even though I was 42-years-old when my mother passed away (Dad was 68), I believe he still saw me as a child who needed his guidance.

Without my mother serving as a buffer, Dad and I found ourselves on new footing. We became friends, I think. We both missed Mom so much we wound up filling some of that void in each other. I saw more of his softer, vulnerable side as he learned to reach out to others.

Dad underwent bypass surgery at age 79. That event, more than anything, reshaped and redefined our relationship. Not only did the experience alter much of his perspective on life, it altered mine. He learned that he could trust me to put him and his welfare first. I learned things about Dad I’d never known–mostly events that happened to him as a small child. How the influence of his parents affected him. What monsters slept beneath his bed.

Life-changing Events

My life was never the same after that 10-day period I spent nursing him back to good health. For a short time, while I listened to him ramble, and cry, and share some of his innermost secrets, I was able to view life through the lenses of his glasses.

Without asking a single question, I simply listened. At last, I reached the perfect understanding about what had prompted him to be the person he was. I learned why he’d behaved and spoken as he had. I recognized that he–like me–was the child of his parents. The child of unfulfilled hopes, unrealized dreams … and actual fears. The child who’d wished his parents had been different but who loved them anyway.

Perspectives about Your Parents

That’s the thing about perspectives. They’re different. They originate from different places and angle themselves in different directions. So, think about it again. What are your perspectives about your parents? Have they changed? Remained the same? Why? Why not?

I’ve learned that even when our perspectives change, they don’t change the fact that regardless of who we are, where we come from, and what hurts us–we’re all much more alike than we are different.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you, but I love you more.