Mirage–Friday Fictioneers Challenge

•April 24, 2015 • 33 Comments
What's the worse that could happen? So I get a few more wrinkles from my Thinky Face...

What’s the worse that could happen? So I get a few more wrinkles from my Thinkie Face…

I’ve decided to join Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers.

It’s a writing challenge in response to a photograph Rochelle posts each Wednesday.

The kicker is that the submission must be 100 words or less.

That’s a real challenge for me because:

1. I’m a sociologist by training and no one can write long, drawn out, complicated sentences like a sociologist can (except maybe a philosopher, but I doubt it)–see what I mean?

2. I’m in total, absolute, diabolically complete love with adjectives.

3. I never met an adverb that I didn’t invite in willingly and unquestioningly.

4. I feel the need to explain myself over and over and over again. Yes. I do.

5. Having deadlines and word limits makes me stressed and stress gets me all conflusterated.

But, I’ve never let a list of five things stop me from doing anything before, so why start (stop?) now?

Right!

Here I go.

Watch me.

Are you watching me now?

Are you watching me?

*****

keck

This is the photograph about which I’m supposed to write 100 words or less of something. (Those 16 words don’t count and neither do these 11 words.)

 

Mirage

He dropped to his knees, his body trembling.

With raw, unfamiliar hands, he wiped his tear-stung eyes.

“It’s so freaking bright. Where the hell am I?”

The eerie sound of air whispering through emptiness answered him.

“How long have I been out here? What happened to me?”

He moaned as his voice disappeared into the vacuum of silence.

“Am I hot or cold? I can’t tell.” He frantically slapped his arms, then legs, to feel something real.

After a few moments he looked up, squinting. “Are those igloos?”

Pushing himself up, he grabbed a handful of sand.

*****

So…

I counted. It was exactly 97 words. But were they 97 good words?

Should I try this again next week?

Yeah, no. It's hard. But if I write better as a result, you'll thank me, because you have to read this malarky, not me. See? I really need to tighten up my writing, People.

Yeah, no. It’s hard. But if I write better as a result, you’ll thank me, because you have to read this malarkey, not me. See? I really need to tighten up my writing, People.

Sinister Scoundrels , Don’t Read This Post…Pretty Please!

•April 21, 2015 • 37 Comments
I needed a photo to weed out any unsavory types who may have been tempted to read this post regardless of my cleverly titled warning. This should do it.

I needed a photo to weed out any unsavory types who may have been tempted to read this post regardless of my cleverly titled warning. This should do it.

Since I carefully titled this post, I feel confident that you have no Americanus Destructimundo Fancifications I need to worry about.

So read on.

Americans love nothing better than trendy stuff.

Well, let’s be real. Americans really love lots of stuff.

They love:

1. Sugar

2. Humongous gas-guzzling off-road vehicles that they never drive off-road

3. Trucks (see #2)

4. Sugar

5. Guns

6. Cheese

7. Large-screen TVs

8. Reality TV shows they watch on large-screen TVs

9. Meat

10. Freedom to eat sugar, cheese, meat, sugar, drive gas-guzzling vehicles, carry guns, buy large-screen TVs for watching reality TV shows

11. Looking in the mirror

12. Mirrors

13. Anything that starts with Mc (McDonalds, McMansions, McNews, McChurch…)

14. Sugar

15. Trendy stuff

See? Trendy stuff is on the list of things Americans really love.

So I was thinking (always a dangerous thing)…

If you wanted to mess with Americans, mess with one of our trendy things.

The resulting chaos would be, well, totally chaotic.

Take kale.

Yes. I said kale.

Have you noticed how this dark green leafy abomination has been showing up in everything lately?

It’s the new “in” superfood, People. Kale is all the rage.

He used to be a big-time celeb. Now he's small potatoes. Why? He's pushing spinach, which is so uncool now that kale is around. Get with the program, Old Man.

He used to be a big-time celeb. Now he’s small potatoes. Why? He’s pushing spinach, which is so uncool now that kale is around. Get with the program, Old Man.

Kale is in soup, salad, pizza, chips, stew, crackers, shampoo, facial scrubs, decor–you name it.

For the ultimate "green" wedding, try a kale bouquet.

For the ultimate “green” wedding, try a kale bouquet.

Apparently we can’t live without kale.

Forget that it tastes like crap. It’s loaded with vitamins, fiber and dirt.

Imagine if some up-to-no-good-doers targeted the kale production and distribution system in America.

What would we do?

We can’t go back to spinach. Spinach is so yesterday. It’s wimpy and tasteless.

Just like spinach...so yesterday.

Just like spinach…so yesterday.

Spinach just sticks to your teeth; it doesn’t get wedged right in there, good and tight, like kale does.

There isn’t a variety of lettuce that stands up to kale. Heck, there isn’t a variety of corrugated cardboard that stands up to kale.

With the kale supply destroyed, nutritionists would have to find a new and equally unpalatable food to trick convince the public of its superior taste and health benefits. Kaleless children would cheer and run amok with joy. So would your less health-conscious adults.

We must avoid this pandemonium at all costs!

We must avoid this pandemonium at all costs!

We just couldn’t have that. The thugs would win.

The next time kale shows up in your life, just think about national security me and my social astute blog or just think of me.

This is serious, People.

Be afraid of kale, People. No. Wait. Be afraid of no kale. I'm confused. Just be afraid.

Be afraid of kale, People. No. Wait. Be afraid of no kale. I’m confused. Just to be safe, be afraid.

 

What Can I Say? I’ve Been Reading A Lot Lately.

•April 15, 2015 • 19 Comments
Reading is what we women of leisure do here in the Pacific Northwest. That and other important things where we get to cross our legs.

Reading is what we women of leisure do here in the Pacific Northwest. That enjoying the treasured Cone of Silence and Eventual Beauty.

I just finished reading Peter Wells’ newest book, The Man Who Missed the Boat.

This must be some kind of a record for me. I usually takes weeks to read a book.

Why?

1. I only read at night.

2. I get really tired when I read even great books.

3. Like good friends, I enjoy spending a lot of time with my books.

4. I’m a slow reader.

But Peter’s book called me to read during the day, which was totally strange and kind of enjoyable.

I could get used to this...but whose cat is this and could someone please fix this blinking light?

I could get used to this…but whose cat is this and could someone please fix this blinking light?

So I finished it quicker than normal.

While the wound interview I gave to did with Peter is still open fresh, I thought, “Why not post my review of his book?”

“Can’t think of a reason.” I said back to myself.

“Well, then, go ahead and do it!” I encouraged myself.

So, here you go. I tend to listen to myself when I get that emphatic.

Man who missed the boat

 

Resonating with the twinkle-eyed wit of Mark Twain and with the compassionate insight into the human condition reminiscent of Ernest Hemingway, Peter Wells presents his readers with a most engaging and delightful look at the twists of fate in the otherwise ordinary lives of the many characters who populate his latest book.

We get to know Simon (the kind-hearted, often confused protagonist), Ruth (the jilted wife in an uneventful marriage), Giles (the regretful cheating husband whose former predictable life continues to spiral out of control), Amy (Ruth and Giles’ teenage daughter seeking stability from Simon, her piano teacher), Sadie (the wealthy woman who finds Simon’s brand of innocence quite alluring), Bobbie (an impetuous, heartless young woman who uses Giles for her own entertainment and crime spree), and Herman Melville (yes, that’s right, a frumpy man whose wife left him and who longs for Ruth’s attention).

When I say, “we get to know” these people, I truly mean it. We learn as much about these people as clergy learn about their confessors or therapists learn about their clients. We know their innermost thoughts and feelings because Peter takes us into their minds, hearts and souls. I was so awestruck at Peter’s ability to get inside each character so completely that I often stopped and reread passages of his prose.

Peter is able to seamlessly pop in and out of each character’s point of view by being the omniscient narrator of this story of a Simon, a simple piano teacher who stumbles into the family drama of one of his pupils. As the quintessential storyteller, he engages us by adding his own observations and cues us to pay attention to certain elements of the story and not to others, telling us what is important and what is “for another time.” I felt as if he was sitting there telling the tale to me alone.

Fair warning: if you are a reader who loves a heart-racing plot, a book filled with dialogue, and lots of action-packed scenes involving gun or knife play, this is not the book for you (although the wielding of a knife does occur in this book!). This is a book filled with narration and some dialogue to carry its plot forward. But the narration is not of the descriptive kind. The narration is actually transporting the reader into one of these interesting, complex characters’ heads. Things happen, words are exchanged, and you are back inside someone’s head. It’s fascinating.

I am in awe of Peter’s ability to weave a tale so telling of what it is to be human—and to be so many kinds of human—in such a profound and witty way. This is more than a book; it’s an experience.

NOTE: I printed the whole review because I had room, his being the only review in this post and all.

Don't keep the news about this wonderful book under your hat. I didn't! Heck I couldn't if I tried. With this hat, are you kidding me?

Don’t keep the news about this wonderful book under your hat. I didn’t! Heck I couldn’t if I tried. With this hat, are you kidding me?

The reviews are in…but whose?

•April 13, 2015 • 35 Comments
Hey, I get the scoop any way I can. Don't judge me.

Hey, I get the scoop any way I can. Don’t judge me.

I’ve been busy torturing interviewing some blogger-authors lately.

You may have noticed.

You may be wondering, “Did that cracker-jack blogger/author/interviewer (I’m talking about me, here, People) actually read the books she so generously promoted?”

Well, I’m here to tell you that wonders do cease.

Yes I did…read the books.

And here’s what I thought of them. NOTE: these are abbreviated reviews. For the full reviews click on the book links I provided on the titles.

Seeing_Eye_FRONT_FINAL_Kindle

I interviewed author/blogger, Liz Marshall, a while back. She wrote Seeing Eye: A day At the Fair. Here’s what I thought:

Liz Marshal is a gifted writer and Seeing Eye is the kind of murder mystery that I love.

The plot has enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end and her characters are real–they have flaws, good qualities, and each has something distinctive about them.

Her writing is pitch-perfect with dialog that rings true to the ear. I especially love her sense of humor that she weaves adeptly into the story and into the dialog. And the way she writes foreign accents is masterful.

This is a murder mystery that isn’t gory, but it is suspenseful. Subplots woven around the murders help the reader understand motivations behind the seemingly odd choices Rory makes. And the best part is that the ending leaves room for an obvious second book in what I hope is a series from this amazing author.

If you like a little humor to season a carefully plotted murder mystery with three-dimensional characters, I recommend you give this book a try.

His Name was Ben_final4 copy

Then I interviewed Paulette Mahurin, a very successful author who gives all the proceeds of her books to a cause near and dear to her heart: animal welfare. She wrote His Name was Ben.  Here’s my review…

Mahurin is an adept writer who knows how to create complex characters living complicated lives, tugging the reader into the world she creates. The details and dialog ring so true that I felt I was in the story with them, often forgetting that I was reading.

We’re drawn into the intimate lives of two cancer patients. It’s clear Paulette used her medical background and extensive research because the sections on the types of cancer, treatment options, and side effects are quite sophisticated. But this is no maudlin read. Instead, courage, hope, love, wisdom, and even levity are woven throughout the individual and collective journeys the characters take.

At its core, this book is a story about accepting oneself, being open to romance, overcoming fear, and taking chances. Basically, it’s a love story about life, about living life consciously rather than on automatic pilot. Thank you Paulette for the gift of this book.

??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

Onto my time-travel interview with Diana Douglas, prolific romance writer and blogger. Her most recent novel, The Tattooed Angel, is the first in a series. My thoughts:

Ms. Douglas clearly knows what she is doing. She has done her research about England in the 1600s. All of her characters are complex, interesting, and true their voice–not a two-dimensional lad or lass in the book. She takes the reader on an adventure that rivals the best roller coaster I’ve ever been on. Time-travel, black magic, immortality, lessons in herbal medicines, evil villains, kind souls, political shenanigans, confused lovers…need I go on? Even though the plot of the book is outside the realm of what most people believe is possible, Ms. Douglas weaves a plausible tale full of details and dialogue that made this story work. In other words, she made the unbelievable believable. For that alone, I applaud this amazing author.

sin (2)

I also read Victoria Slotto’s new book, The Sin of the Father. She didn’t come by for an interview. Wise woman. Here’s what I thought of her book.

How would you handle shocking news that changed your definition of yourself and made you question everything about your life as you knew it? This is the challenge that Victoria Slotto presents us with as we follow her protagonist, Matt, through his journey of doing just that.

Matt, just like any person, is imperfect. This is a book about what it is like to be human: to stumble, fall, and be willing to pick yourself back up (with the help of old and new friends). The driving theme throughout the book is forgiveness, which is one of the hardest things for most people to do.

Victoria Slotto wrote about the difficult subjects of death, dying, betrayal, alcoholism, homelessness, abandonment, and self-doubt with the elegant touch she brings to all of her writing. Even if you don’t know she writes poetry, you can feel the poetry in her prose. This novel was artfully written and will stay with me for a long time. And isn’t that the hallmark of a wonderful book?

Just to mix things up, Kevin Cooper, from his Great Indie Authors blog, just reviewed MY novel, Never Turn Back.

Oh yes, he did!

Oh yes, he did!

Here’s a snippet of what he had to say.

“Lorna’s tale grips the reader from the beginning and doesn’t disappoint as it draws one in deeper and deeper all the way. It is an extremely well-written work and in all honesty, I cannot fault it, in the least. This is a five-star work for me.”

To see the whole review and to check out all the great reviews Kev does on his most excellent blog, hop on over there.

I’ll be subjecting to inviting Kev for an interview with me to promote HIS new book in the very near future.

Peter Wells’ new book will be getting my review soon, too. I’m nearly finished reading it.

So many many pages, so little tushy padding.

So many pages, so little tushy padding.

THIS JUST IN! Check out this link! I’m now a contributing author on the Story Circle Network, with a polished up version of my story on Scrappy’s and my “special walk” after he died. They have their own blog and now I’m a part of it!

 

 

 

 

An Interview on a Dinghy for The Man Who Missed the Boat

•April 9, 2015 • 34 Comments
I just have to wait until this fella is done renting the boat so I can do the interview with the author, Peter Wells. I sure hope the boat is cleaned between rentals.

I just have to wait until this fella is done renting the boat so I can do the interview with the author, Peter Wells. I sure hope the boat is cleaned between rentals.

Peter Wells, from the popular blog Counting Ducks, has written another book and it just came out today (April 9)!

Sheesh.

It’s not enough that his blog is wildly successful.

His writing is so brilliant that he actually got discovered by a publisher because of his blog.

That was supposed to happen to ME, People.

So he gets to write two books because a publisher wants them.

Double Sheesh!

His first book, “Living Life Backwards,” is wonderful. Peter is both witty and an astute observer of humanity of all shapes and sizes. He can also turn a phrase like nobody’s business.

What the heck am I doing? I’m promoting a guy who apparently walks on water.

You need to walk on water when you're on a boat like that!

You need to walk on water when you’re on a boat like that!

That’s why he can miss the boat and not worry about it, right?

No, that’s not right. “The Man Who Missed the Boat,” his second novel, isn’t about him at all. And no one in the novel walks on water.

Just to show what a selfless, generous, sweet person I am, I’m going to interview Peter to help promote his new book.

Just to prove I’m human and harbor a little envy, I’m going to interview him on the smallest boat I can find. I don’t want him too comfortable.

Peter looks so happy here. That's because he's on terra firma. Let's get him on Lorna not-so firma. Wait. That didn't come out right.

Peter looks so happy here. That’s because he’s on terra firma. Let’s get him on Lorna- not-so firma and see how he feels. Wait. That didn’t come out right.

Lorna: Hi Peter! Welcome aboard. Just sit in the middle of the seat and stay perfectly still. They guy from whom I rented this dinghy said she’s perfectly safe if we don’t move around too much.

Peter: (Looking both skeptical and frightened) Hello Lorna. Couldn’t we talk over there on the pier? There’s a lovely restaurant. Perhaps they serve drinks?

Lorna: (Smirking) I don’t drink, Peter. And I thought this setting would be more appropriate for the interview, given the title of your new book, “The Man Who Missed the Boat.” Clever, huh?

Peter: (Nodding, looking around, clutching the sides of the dinghy). Whatever you say, Lorna.

Lorna: Atta boy! Let’s start before those storm clouds in the distance get any closer. Ideas for books come from all sorts of places. Where did the idea for this book come from?

Peter: (Turning to look at threatening sky) I really have no idea. I’m just the sort of guy who goes for a walk and starts daydreaming, and suddenly a scenario will come out of nowhere and I’ll start either wheezing with embarrassing laughter or sobbing into the remains of my sweater, depending on where my thoughts have taken me.

Lorna: Hmmm. That’s kind of vague for a man who writes so clearly about the human condition. Are you dodging my questions so you can end this interview, Peter? Remember, I’m doing this for you.

Peter: Right. Right. It’s just that I’ve never done an interview under these, um, conditions.

Lorna: Piffle, Pal! You’re in the Big Leagues now. You have to be ready to anything. Let’s see how you do with this one. Did you always fancy yourself an author, or did this book writing thing just happen along?

Peter: I always thought of myself as being a bit creative but the book thing really started with the Blog. I started talking about myself, which didn’t take long, and then I resorted to telling stories which I enjoy, and some of the stories suggest they could be expanded. “Living Life Backwards” for instance came from a Blog post, and “The Man Who Missed The Boat” came out of imagining what would happen if you allowed yourself to be swept up in someone else’s drama without any sense of self-preservation.

Lorna: Now that wasn’t so hard. Just ignore the sea gulls and the rumbles of thunder. Focus. And relax your face. Those crinkles on your forehead are going to age you. So, what, in your opinion, makes a book good?

Peter: (Heavy sigh) Wow. You know how to ask them don’t you!

Lorna: I sure do!

Peter: Right. Right. Good books. Hmmm. So many things…Books in which mankind can see himself, but with the insights and conundrums of the everyday illuminated in such a way as to make us ask questions of ourselves and make our lives richer in the process. Of course being entertaining and gripping doesn’t do any harm. Having people you can identify and sympathize with…

Lorna: Probably doing an interview in a boat would make for a good book, huh?

Peter: Oh, yes. I could see all kinds of possibilities with this scenario. Shouldn’t we be getting off this little boat. The sky is getting quite dark.

Lorna: It does look ominous, doesn’t it? Can you swim? I’m not a very good swimmer.

Peter: (looking rather wild-eyed)

Lorna: Nevermind. That’s not part of the interview, I just was curious. We’re almost finished with the interview. What is the primary lesson you want readers to learn from reading about Simon Baxter’s and the Cummings family’s life journeys in this novel?

Peter: Oh good! We’re nearly finished! Not that this hasn’t been, ah, interesting and an exercise in character building, but I really prefer land to sea. What was the question?

Lorna: (Wiping rain drop from nose) The lesson of the book?

Peter:  (Looking up and adjusting his coat collar) That there is a wealth of difference between the brochure and the life it advertises. Between our silent thoughts and spoken word.

Lorna: Great lesson to learn. All is not what it seems. Speaking of that, tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

Peter: I’m a punctuality freak. I would rather be far too early at the station for a train than  risk missing it. Silly I know.

Lorna: Not at all silly. I’m the same way. We’re very much alike. I wonder why a publisher hasn’t discovered my blog?

Peter: I really can’t say, Lorna. Personally, I love your blog. Let’s get off this boat and talk some more about your blog.

Lorna: Thanks, Peter, but this interview is about you, not me. We better wrap this up, I just saw a flash of lightning. And you know my track record with lightning strikes.

Peter: (eyes darting furtively) Yes! Let’s finish this up! What else do you want from me?

Lorna: Peter, you look a little unsettled. Calm down. You’re scaring me. I need to focus. Let’s see…What do you have planned next for your readers?

Peter: (speaking very quickly) I’m writing a book called “The Unsocial Memoirs if Stanley Castle” about a guy who becomes less pleasant and moral as he becomes more confident until he is forced to recognize what he has become, and the cost to himself of his unsocial behavior. Are we done?

Lorna: Oh, that sounds delightful! I guess that’s it. Just carefully get up and step out of the boat. I’m just glad we never untied the dinghy from the dock, aren’t you?

Peter: Yes, I’m quite grateful to you for that, and so much more, Lorna!

You can find Peter’s books by clicking on the links below (USA links). They are absolutely wonderful and witty glimpses into the human condition.

The Man Who Missed the Boat–Amazon

Living Life Backwards–Amazon

Coming to Barnes and Noble in the near future!

As always, People, authors want to know what you–the readers–think of their work.
Please take the time to write a review of Peter’s book. Your voice matters to him!

 

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,150 other followers

%d bloggers like this: