Go Tell the Bees (Not a Review)

I just finished reading Diana Gabaldon’s Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone, the ninth book in the Outlander Series. After waiting what seemed like a hundred years for this novel, I worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember all that had taken place in the previous eight novels. And guess what—I couldn’t recall a great deal of it. But it didn’t matter. I loved it anyway.

Ms. Gabaldon’s characters and locations are so vividly drawn, and her writing so engaging, that I didn’t care that some characters weren’t familiar to me or that I’d forgotten Jamie’s nephew had married a Quaker or that William was Jamie’s son or half a dozen other things integral to the story.

Plenty of backstory is woven into the narrative, but even so I often had to shrug and read on when I couldn’t place a character. Again, I didn’t care. I love these characters. The major ones are as real to me as people in my own family.

My only worry is that I might not live to read book ten. With times being what they are, and my age being what it is, nothing is guaranteed.

If you like your books with a little meat on their bones, you’ll enjoy the Outlander series. It’s a feast, not fast food.

Peace, people.

Weekend Reads

What are you reading this weekend? Hopefully something other than the directions for putting up the artificial Christmas tree you bought last year on sale and then forgot all about until you opened up the attic to get the Yuletide decorations down.

“Mabel, did you buy this 16’ pre-lit fake balsam?”

“No, Arnie, you bought that on account of little Barry’s allergies. Remember?”

Arnie doesn’t really remember, but he’s learned, after 50 years of marriage, that Mabel is always right about such things.

But that’s because Mabel keeps her mind sharp by reading. And what might she read this weekend?

Maybe a cozy mystery series by Lori Roberts Herbst. http://Suitable for Framing (Callie Cassidy Mysteries Book 1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R7XR3LG/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_QQY7W946Y7BTBWBNBDEK

Or maybe a science fiction thriller by Gareth Powell. http://Embers of War https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0719VDGLD/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_E64T4VAXQHEC3SAQZNEX

How about a steamy romance by the other Leslie Noyes? Willing: A Contemporary Romance https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08YMQQ583/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_R1K434B2Q4CZ9GJYMW38

Or perhaps one of my books…http://Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series Book 1) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PDRH2Q9/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_8N4QRFBM0YSCVXV4Y9F4

Be like Mabel. Read.

Peace, people!

Picturing Kindle Unlimited Readers

One of the best moves I’ve made since publishing my novels was to enroll them in Kindle Unlimited. For those who aren’t familiar with KU, it’s a program in which members pay a monthly fee and in exchange can read any book published on Kindle that’s been enrolled in the program at no additional charge.

So, for $9.99 per month (U.S.), a reader has access to more than a million books. For avid readers this is a great deal. For their part, the authors are paid by the page. For every 1,200 pages read, the author makes about $5.00.

Now, back to the title of this blog. I enjoy looking at my daily stats to see how many pages have been read. And then I begin to imagine the readers:

I see a woman my age with a cup of tea. She’s curled up on the sofa with a cat in her lap while snow falls outside her window. She knows she should go to bed, but darn it, Paula is in a pickle and maybe the next chapter will provide some resolution.

There’s another woman in California. She’s on the beach stretched out on a striped towel and when she comes to the part about nude jugglers, she gets a case of the giggles. A handsome lifeguard comes over to make sure she’s okay and ends up asking her out for drinks. That’s good for her, but hey! Come back and read some more, lady!

And how about the man in Indiana who reads in bed? He can’t believe his lady friend talked him into this, but he’s kind of into it now. He thinks Paula should take things slowly, and he likes the dialogue. He’ll finish the book before he turns off the light.

Okay, so maybe my imagination’s working over time. But that’s what I do.

Peace, people!

But No Elephants

When my children were small we subscribed to the Parents Magazine children’s book club. Outside of feeding, clothing, housing, and loving them, it was perhaps the best thing I ever did for my kids.

Once a month or so the club sent two books to our home. Book arrival day was always a BIG DEAL. Each and every book we received was celebrated and read many, many times. We were pretty destitute in those days, and there were times when we could barely afford the cost, but we always bought the books.

Two books stand out in my memory as being favorites. One was The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone.

This delightful tale never grew old. I enjoyed it because I could do my passable Grover impression while building the tension surrounding the appearance of the dreaded monster.

Spoiler Alert #1: Grover was the monster at the end of the book.

The other book that the children repeatedly clamored for was But No Elephants by Jerry Smith.

This sweet story featured Grandma Tildy, and the voice I used for her was remarkably similar to the one I used for Grover, just a couple of octaves higher and a bit shakier—my repertoire was pretty limited.

Grandma Tildy lived alone until a man came along peddling animals. She allowed him to coax her into buying one animal after another, but she drew the line at buying the elephant. The repetitive phrase, but no elephants, found on every third page or so, never failed to elicit giggles.

Spoiler Alert #2: Surprise! Grandma Tildy ends up adopting the elephant and they all live happily ever after.

I have no idea why these books were on my mind today. Maybe I’m feeling nostalgic for the days when my kids were little. Or maybe I miss impersonating lovable, furry old Grover. Maybe it’s a little of both.

Peace, people.

Take Me to Your Reader

This evening, Thursday, May 13, I’ll be attending a book club meeting in Tallahassee at which my book, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, will be the topic of discussion. This will be my second book club experience with Mayhem, but while the first one was via Zoom, this one will be held in a friend’s home with actual people in the room with me!

I’m no introvert, but having been fairly sequestered with Studly Doright for the past year, I’m going to confess to being a bit nervous. And when I get nervous, I’m liable to say just about anything.

“By the way, did you all know I lost my virginity back in….”

Yep. It could happen.

Peace, people!

Into the Dark

I read a lot. I’m not the speediest reader in the world, so I average about a book a week unless the book in question is a lengthy sci-fi tale. Sometimes sci-fi books become so technical that I might need two or three weeks to absorb a single book.

Recently though I read a trilogy that fell into a category called dark erotic romances. My curiosity got the best of me. I couldn’t figure out why the books were labeled “dark,” but after five pages I thought, Aha. NOW I know!”

My first inclination was to order a different, much tamer book and forget I’d spent money on the trilogy, but dadgum it, the author kind of hooked me right away. I already liked her main character and needed to see what happened to him. But, holy cow the story was dark and gleefully erotic—and I read all three books in the space of four days. Yes, they were fairly short, but still that’s something of a record for me.

The author mentioned several songs I’d never heard of in the text of the stories, and one made it to my writing playlist. “Ride” by Chase Rice might be the hottest song I’ve heard in a long time. It makes me wish I was 21 instead of 64.

And as for dark erotica, I believe I’ve reached my lifetime limit after those three books. I don’t need to travel that path again. In fact, I’m thinking about rereading the Anne of Green Gables books just to cleanse my mind.

I’ve always heard that variety is the spice of life. Well mine got a little too spicy—at least for a few days.

Peace, people!

In case you’re curious…

A Conversation with Author TJ FOX

Every now and again I read a novel that stays with me long past the time I finish reading it. TJ Fox’s debut novel, An Unexpected Turn, is one such book.

I discovered TJ through her blog on WordPress. She’s one of these incredibly talented Renaissance-type women who seems to be capable of doing just about anything she sets her mind to, whether it be writing, photography, decorating, or any number of other endeavors. And she does them all beautifully. Check out her blog at http://tjfox.net.

Recently I recommended TJ’s book to a friend and I started thinking about the incredible way it came to pass. Having spent nearly ten years writing my first novel, (eight of those years it spent on a shelf, nearly forgotten), I was amazed, impressed, and flabbergasted to learn that TJ wrote the first draft for An Unexpected Turn in one week! Yes. Read that and weep, fellow authors.

I asked TJ how she came up with the idea for her novel:

TJ: I had a literal dream I couldn’t get out of my head after waking from it because of how improbable and ridiculous my rational mind thought the dream was. My brain wouldn’t let go of the questions and the “what ifs” that dream dredged up. I had to start writing all those thoughts down to get my brain to process it and it became a book, something that I never dreamed I would ever do. In a way, it feels kind of like I accidentally wrote a book.

Me: But you wrote it in a single week?

TJ: My brain was so obsessed with trying to answer those “what ifs” and trying to take a situation that seemed so over the top and impossible and figure what kind of circumstances would create an environment to make it be possible, that I sat down and wrote the entire first draft in a week. I would sit down in the mornings and write until I hit a problem I wasn’t sure how to get beyond. I’d then go to sleep and by morning, I’d have a solution and I’d start up again.

Of course, I spent so much more time on edits than I did on writing that first draft making the entire process so much longer, but a vast majority of the story was set in stone in that one week. It was one of those rare creative moments where it feels like the creation took on a life of its own and created itself while the creator was just a tool in the process.

As an artist, I’ve experienced similar creative moments here and there, but never on this scale or this completely. Even now, at three and a half years later (sheesh, I can’t believe it’s been that long already), I still struggle to believe it happened.

Me: Incredible and mind-boggling, but I’m glad it happened that way. Now, I’m a lousy interviewer, so I’m going to ask a “catch all” question. What is it you’d like future readers to know about An Unexpected Turn?

TJ: This one is always hard for me. To me, with the story evoking all kinds of emotions as the events unfold, it feels like if I talk about any of those events, even in very broad strokes, that I’ll take away from the emotional impact of the story for any future reader. And it IS a story that is all about the emotions, a lot of really sad emotions, but still laced with the feel-good kinds of emotions that make such hard events bearable. It isn’t like a major suspense kind of story that I’m going to be spoiling the big “who done it” reveal, but I’m never really sure how to talk about my book without feeling like I might cheat a reader from the experience if I were to say the wrong thing. The best I have been able to come up with in trying to describe it is that it is a story about a woman’s emotional journey to finding and creating family in unimaginable circumstances.

Me: That’s a really good description. I think I used a whole box of tissues while reading your book. I remember being shocked by your protagonist’s situation. I felt everything she was going through and became totally lost in the story.

Could we have a sample???

TJ: Again, because I struggle so much with knowing which pieces to share that won’t change the impact of the story, I’m just going to give you what I have as part of my blurb.

“When I take a good look at my reflection, I’m a bit surprised by the fact that the face looking back at me in the mirror doesn’t look any different than the one I’ve seen staring back at me for the last 27 years. I feel like I should look different. That my face should show the upheaval and the weight of the last several hours, that it should somehow show how much the course of my life has changed, but other than the mess from crying, everything is still the same. That seems wrong somehow.”

Me: Okay, now I’m crying again. Thanks, TJ!

You can find An Unexpected Turn on Amazon. It’s available in paperback and as an ebook on Kindle. It’d make a great gift, too.

Peace, people!

Buy the Book

Last week I posted about an afternoon spent watching the film, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. https://nananoyz5forme.com/2021/02/01/the-ghost-and-mrs-muir/

The resulting comments from friends on WordPress and social media led me to purchase a copy of the book, and thanks to Amazon, I’ll soon be comparing the book to the film. Seldom do I do the reverse order thing. Usually I’ve read the book first and then often find the film disappointing.

As a newly self-published author I can’t help but imagine what the screen version of my book might look like. Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Express would work well as a movie, but I’m afraid one scene would need to be cut or altered and that would be a shame. Since Hollywood isn’t going to come knocking on my door anytime soon, I guess that’s a senseless waste of a good worry.

A couple of years ago I got to hear author Louise Penny speak when she launched one of her Detective Gamache books here in Tallahassee. Someone asked what she’d thought about the screen adaptation of her first novel. I can’t provide a direct quote, but Ms. Penny said she’d not been happy with the way the book was transformed for the film and that she’d felt as if she had let her characters down.

I totally understand that. My characters, Paula and Cassie, the 3M’s, and Dr. Hunky, are all important to me. They’re like family. I find myself wondering, WWPD (What Would Paula Do) in certain situations. As I write the sequel to Mayhem I ask myself that question multiple times a day. So if I allowed someone to take my characters and change them in ways that weren’t true to my images of them, I’d feel awful. Again, a baseless worry, but hey, that’s how my mind works.

So buy the book. Support those characters, so you too can think of them as family.

Peace, people!

A Pain in my…

Shoulder sent me to the chiropractor today. We’ve been working on giving me some range of motion without making me howl in pain. At the end of the session Dr. Cal (who kind of reminds me of Matthew McConaughey) sent me to a walk-in orthopedic center. There, they x-rayed my shoulder, determined that I have some arthritis, bursitis, and maybe even other “itises“ yet to be named.

The orthopedist gave me a shot of cortisone and hopefully that, along with continued physical therapy, will help me get back to my normal wacky activities. All this pain—has resulted in my gaining five pounds, and it’s ticking me off.

I’ll be more chipper tomorrow. Oh, if you need something to read on this cold February weekend, might I suggest a couple of books? Suitable for Framing, a cozy mystery by Lori Roberts Herbst and my own novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, a quirky road trip story set in east Texas. They’re both available from Amazon and as an ebook on Kindle. And the reviews are really good. It’d probably make my shoulder feel better if you bought the books.

Sometimes Bad is Bad

My copy of Manhandled by E. L. Scobie arrived in the mail on Saturday afternoon. Studly brought the mail in, and I didn’t see the book until Sunday.

This is me before reading the book.

Immediately I set about reading this salacious looking novel that was published in 1963, a Midwood Book, by Tower Publications in New York City.

Having read my share of romance novels over the years I imagined this particular book would be tame in comparison to the bodice rippers I’d devoured in my twenties and thirties. I was both right and wrong.

This novel is hardly tame; however, the sex scenes aren’t titillating at all. With one really sweet exception, they’re just sad and tawdry. The front and back covers had more campy sexual appeal than the entire contents of the book combined.

I tried googling Scobie, with no luck, and I’m certain the author used a pen name. This seems to be his/her only published work, but it was, indeed, published which makes me think the author might have been trying a different genre. I’ll give the author this much—he/she wrote lyrically about the beauty of the area in which the book is set.

The book was disappointing. It didn’t make me want to lure Studly Doright to my boudoir for a night of passion, which had been on my mind. Instead, it inspired me to daydream about fishing in a cold mountain stream. And I dislike fishing. Go figure.

Peace, people!

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