Scraps of dialogue that distract me while I’m driving

If I ever write a time travel novel, I’ll want to find a place to include this…

Situation: My 21st century protagonist is trying to explain to an 18th century acquaintance why she is working at a menial job that she is obviously too well-educated for.

Protagonist, defensively: “Well I have to do something. Got to keep my cat in kibble.”

Blank stare from the 18th century person.

Protagonist, uncertainly: “You know. I have to earn money so that I can afford to feed my cat.”

18th century person, sympathetically: “Oh. Is she not a good mouser then?”

Protagonist, abashedly: “It’s just an expression.”


About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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