K. Francis Ryan

In 15 Seconds

Words, words, and more words.

I often confuse the spelling, and so the meaning, of Complement and Compliment. Which is correct, where and when?

In fact both are correct but to determine which you would use depends on whether you are in need of a noun or a verb.

If you want to say a given wine goes well with chicken, the word you would be searching for would be complement.

However, if you want to tell your dinner host the wine and chicken were superb, you would be giving them a compliment.

And now you know. 

Were they listening? Are we?



World leaders gathered at the United Nation and watched as a 16 year old student activist showed what it meant to lead.

But how did they watch? Were apathy, complacency and distain present? Did they look and act moved but feel annoyed at being lectured by one so young? Did they experience chagrin being called out by a high school student with more moral fortitude than many of our world’s presidents, prime ministers and ambassadors?

Did they think for a moment, did they even consider the possibility she might be right? What if she was only half right?

Climate activist Greta Thunberg, addressed the U.N.'s Climate Action Summit in New York City on Monday, September 23rd.

Here's the full transcript of Thunberg's speech, beginning with her response to a question about the message she has for world leaders.


     "My message is that we'll be watching you.

     "This is all wrong. I shouldn't be up here. I should be back in school on the other side of the ocean. Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!

     "You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words. And yet I'm one of the lucky ones. People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction, and all you can talk about is money and fairy tales of eternal economic growth. How dare you!

     "For more than 30 years, the science has been crystal clear. How dare you continue to look away and come here saying that you're doing enough, when the politics and solutions needed are still nowhere in sight.

"You say you hear us and that you understand the urgency. But no matter how sad and angry I am, I do not want to believe that. Because if you really understood the situation and still kept on failing to act, then you would be evil. And that I refuse to believe.

     "The popular idea of cutting our emissions in half in 10 years only gives us a 50% chance of staying below 1.5 degrees [Celsius], and the risk of setting off irreversible chain reactions beyond human control.

"Fifty percent may be acceptable to you. But those numbers do not include tipping points, most feedback loops, additional warming hidden by toxic air pollution or the aspects of equity and climate justice. They also rely on my generation sucking hundreds of billions of tons of your CO2 out of the air with technologies that barely exist.

     "So a 50% risk is simply not acceptable to us — we who have to live with the consequences.

     "To have a 67% chance of staying below a 1.5 degrees global temperature rise – the best odds given by the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] – the world had 420 gigatons of CO2 left to emit back on Jan. 1st, 2018. Today that figure is already down to less than 350 gigatons.

     "How dare you pretend that this can be solved with just 'business as usual' and some technical solutions? With today's emissions levels, that remaining CO2 budget will be entirely gone within less than 8 1/2 years.

     "There will not be any solutions or plans presented in line with these figures here today, because these numbers are too uncomfortable. And you are still not mature enough to tell it like it is.

     "You are failing us. But the young people are starting to understand your betrayal. The eyes of all future generations are upon you. And if you choose to fail us, I say: We will never forgive you.

     "We will not let you get away with this. Right here, right now is where we draw the line. The world is waking up. And change is coming, whether you like it or not.

     "Thank you."

Google Me This

     Writing is an interesting and complex business. Many think a fiction writer sits down and simply creates. To a degree, that’s true. They do invent worlds or go too far off locations. It is fiction after all and as fiction, it is a work of the imagination that describes events, people or places.

     Fiction is not all fabrication though. Regardless of what the copyright page in books might tell you, often writers base their characters or locations on real people and places. In the end, they are amalgamations, but at some time they are real. For fiction to work, it has to be believable. To make it real, description is employed to set the stage. Through description and dialogue, the writer is charged with taking the reader on a journey with all the associated scenery.

      To achieve some level of authenticity and to give me a sense of where I am, I rely heavily on the internet to take me where I need to go. Let’s say I want my character to drive from point A to point B. Both points exist in the real world. I can go so far as to select the type of car the character is driving. The manufacturer’s website is replete with images of the interior and exterior of the car. When the character arrives, let’s say it is a government building or a shopping mall, there is probably a website for that location.

     The site will doubtless give me images that will show places I wouldn’t be allowed access to otherwise. Let’s say you present yourself at the central government complex in Nuuk, Greenland and ask, “Hey, I’m a writer. Would you mind if I take a quick peek at your cabinet chamber?” I feel sure after the initial investigation, the police would let you go. Probably.

     Another tool I can use is Google Earth. I can look at the exact route from A to B and go down to the street view to see what the character sees – or doesn’t notice. I may have been there, driven the exact route, but do I remember the color of the awning over that deli on the corner of Queen Ann Street? Probably not. Does my character turn left or right at this or that intersection? Cross any railroad tracks lately? Is he on a newly paved road or one pockmarked with potholes? Will she be passing through farm country or is it miles of subdivisions or is it all in an urban setting?

     I can see it all as the character sees it. Google Earth comes in several variations. It can be accessed as an application downloaded to one’s computer. It can be opened via the internet or seen on a smartphone. But it can do more. I’m not restricted to the roads and landscape. I can view the ocean or sky or 3D images of specific buildings.

     I can go to mars or the moon or lay on my back in a forest and look up at a dense canopy of trees against a night sky. I can fly around cities or go back in time with historical images. I can flesh out the scene. I create it in the dictionary sense of that word, but the tiny details are what makes it real for my readers.

     I’m sure there are those who would say I don’t have enough imagination. Perhaps they’re right. Let me assure those people I will cry myself to sleep tonight and turn in my writers’ union card tomorrow morning.


     It's been a couple of weeks since I posted anything and for that I am sincerely sorry. But here is something brand new!

     On the Contemporary Romance and Excerpts tab, you'll find my current project.  As always, feel free to tell me what you think.  You just might get a mention in a book!

What is the ideal length for a blog post?

      I looked that up and my search rendered everything from “Not more than 25 words,” to “not less than 300 words, but not more than 1,400 words,” and everything in between.  

      This post is 56 words, by the way.  So, what length is a good length?



Fiction or non-fiction, there is only one way to write a book!


      I’ve read untold numbers of books, endured hours of deadly dull writer’s workshops and listened to other authors expound on the One True Way to write a book.  

     The fact is, there is indeed only one way to write a book. Your way. As simple and as complex as that.

     There are people who plot (plotters) and those who write by the seat of their pants (pantsters). Both are equally right and equally successful.

     Making those two groups equally crazy are those who borrow from both schools. They start from a basic outline – beginning, middle, end – and just go at it.

     Because they’re people, they are all equally convinced theirs is the way is the ONLY way. Each adherent then sets out on a crusade to convert the heathens – that is anyone who isn’t just like them.

     People are funny that way. There are, however, those who universally drive everybody insane. Sequencers. These are the people who, not surprisingly, sequence their books. That is, they summarize what will happen on each and every page.

     But no matter which school you follow, the way you get it done, is the only correct way. For you.

    Which one am I? Well, you guess.



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