A Thousand Words

My daily writing goal is a minimum of a thousand words. Some days those words come easily and I sprint on by, never noticing when the benchmark is surpassed. Other days, I slog through, checking periodically to see if I’ve met my self-imposed standard. It’s amazing how I can toil for hours and only produce 478 words. And then hours more to have merely added another twelve.

One of my writing heroes, Stephen King, writes 2,000 words or more a day. I’ve reasoned that he’s probably not also doing laundry, shopping for groceries, and maintaining a fairly clean house on a daily basis as I do. But who knows? Maybe Mr. King scrubs toilets between paragraphs. Now that’s something I’d like to see.

The thousand words a day have added up to more than 40,000 words in my current work in progressReunion at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort, the third book in my Happy Valley series. That’s almost half a book. Its predecessors are doing well, thanks to my lovely readers (links below, of course).

Now, if only the number of words in a blog post counted toward my daily word count I’d be well on my way to 1,000 words. Alas, that is not the case and I’d best get to writing because no one wants to purchase half a book.

Peace, people!

http://Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08P76RBRD/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_H84RG6M2WQMY3G439H19

http://Wedding at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort (The Happy Valley Series) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09M544HFH/ref=cm_sw_r_cp_api_glt_i_J93HHWN8WKC8B0MVZ7NB


Currently I’m reading Stephen King’s novel, The Outsider. I’m about 4/5 of the way through the book and had to stop and catch my breath. The man certainly knows how to build to a thrilling denouement. I’m sure nightmares are forthcoming.

Somewhere in the pages I’ve already read one of the main characters uses the word confluence. The details of a gruesome murder in one small Oklahoma town and those of a similar crime in Ohio led those investigating the first to discover the second due to a confluence of events.

I began to wonder if I’d ever used the word confluence in a conversation or in writing, and I can say with almost complete certainty that until this day I never had. It’s such a mellifluous word, and fairly rolls off the tongue. Sort of like mellifluous does, come to think about it. I wish I’d used it at some earlier time in my 61 years on this earth.

Yesterday Studly Doright and I went for breakfast at the Broken Egg in Tallahassee. As we waited for our orders to arrive the Neil Diamond song, Thank the Lord for the Night Time, played over the restaurant’s sound system. We’d just heard the same song on Sirius/XM’s channel 6 on our drive across town. So would that be a coincidence or a confluence of events? Or is it just sad that I had to listen to that song twice within a twenty minute period?

The photos above show the confluence of the turquoise blue Havasu Creek with the Colorado River. Neither has anything to do with Neil Diamond.

Peace, people!

Dark Tower End or Beginning

For the past few months I’ve been traveling through more intertwining worlds than I can name thanks to the genius and imagination of author Stephen King and his Dark Tower series. I’m not a rapid reader, and these books aren’t particularly easy reads, so perhaps it took me a little longer to travel the road of the Gunslinger than it would another reader. Now that I’ve completed the journey, I’m bereft. How will I go on without Roland, Susannah, Eddie, Jake, and Oy? Especially Oy, the billy bumbler.

My son is to blame for insisting I read the series. As a long time Stephen King devotee, I had grimly resisted reading the Dark Tower books. I’m not sure why. I started book one years ago, and I only made it through a few chapters before putting it aside. It didn’t feel like a Stephen King book. I believe at that time I wanted another Carrie, Salem’s Lot, or Christine, and this didn’t fit the bill.

More recently I’d seen the film and wasn’t impressed, but I must tell you the film bears only scant resemblance to the enormous scope of the books. The film was akin to a dry saltine cracker, while the books are a magnificent feast.

In this past year our son, Jason, persisted in cajoling me into reading the series. He fed me little tidbits that he knew I couldn’t resist, such as “Stephen King writes himself into the books,” and “He includes characters from other novels he’s written,” and finally I succumbed. Thank goodness.

Most of my books nowadays are read on Kindle, and books 1-6 were readily available in e-reader format. When I completed book six in the middle of the night, though, and immediately went to the Kindle store to download book VII, it wasn’t available. I had a panic attack. Roland and his intrepid ka tet were in dire circumstances.

I made myself wait until morning to check again on its availability, but I tossed and turned all night. The book still wasn’t available. I called my son.

“Help! I can’t get book VII on my kindle.”

“It’s there,” he said. “I read it on mine.”

“Then why can’t I?” I whined.

He laughed evilly. Kids these days.

I even tweeted Stephen King. “WTF, man! Why can’t I download Dark Tower Book VII on my kindle?”

No response. Argh.

For a week I checked almost constantly on Amazon and finally gave up, broke down, and ordered the physical book. It was HUGE. Seldom do I think about the size of an electronic version book. The space one takes up in my hands never changes. A 35,000 word book feels exactly the same as a 200,000 word book. But this book. Whoa! I felt as though I might as well have begun reading Webster’s unabridged dictionary.

It’s also a first trade edition. Briefly I wondered if it might be worth something more than I paid for it, but knowledgeable friends assured me it was not.

Gamely I plowed through. Ah, the sacrifices I made for these characters: Cramping wrists, having to use a lamp to read by in bed, not being able to tuck the tome into my handbag. Agonizing. But rewarding.

When I finally reached the end I began to cry and couldn’t stop for many minutes, not necessarily because the series has a sad ending–it really doesn’t, but because it was over. No more Roland of Gilead. No more Susannah, or Eddie, or Jake. Mostly though, no more Oy, the billy bumbler. Oh good and faithful Oy. Dammit. I’m crying again.

Peace, people.

P.S. Guess what book is now available on kindle? You guessed it, book 7. Maybe the universe was trying to teach me a lesson in patience.

Sunday, Boring Sunday

My feet never even left Doright Manor yesterday. I slept in until 9 a.m., had a Kind breakfast bar and a cup of coffee with Irish cream while simultaneously watching MASH reruns and reading The Dark Tower VII. I think I even took a nap. The morning just flowed over and around me like a lazy river.

Studly Doright played golf on Sunday morning after being sidelined for over a month by sciatic pain and returned home in time to enjoy watching the final round of the Masters golf tournament with me. I’m not a golfer, but I grew up watching tournaments on tv with my dad, and watching the Masters is akin to seeing a painting come to life in real time. The beautiful course at Augusta testing the skills of the best players in the world is always a thrill.

Now we plan to spend the evening catching up on The Walking Dead. I’ll drink a glass of wine, or two. Then it’s off to bed. Maybe I’ll be less boring tomorrow.

Peace, people.

Read it Again, Ma’am

I read all the time. If I could no longer read for some reason I’m sure I’d wither away and die. Oh sure, I could listen to books on tape, and I suppose I could make do, but there’s something magical about the way a reader interacts with a book that a recording can’t replicate.

My taste these days runs to science fiction/fantasy, but I’m always looking for some new delicacy regardless of genre. And then there are my favorites. These are books I’ve read more than once, and for someone like me who’s always looking for the next literary thrill this repeat reading is the highest compliment I can pay a book.

So what select books are among my repeats?

1) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is number one. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve delved into the world of Scout Finch, and I read it at least once a year in the fall.

2) Stephen King’s, The Stand, is a close second. The epic tale of good versus evil still gives me chills, and I become suspicious of any sniffle or cough, certain that Captain Trips is about to wipe out most of humanity.

3) A Separate Peace, by John Knowles, comes in third, and I can’t really say why. There’s something about this coming of age story that draws me in. My heart aches for these boys on the brink of manhood and all of the pitfalls awaiting them. If I pick up my well worn copy when I’m dusting or otherwise moving stuff around I can’t help but begin reading it again.

4) I’ve read all but one of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series multiple times, having read the series from the beginning every time a new book in the series was released. So I’ve read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone seven times, while I’ve only read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows once.

I’ve recently added a new book to those deemed worthy of a rereading. This book, The Whistling Season, by Ivan Doig, is the first book that comes to mind when a friend asks for a recommendation. So when I didn’t have a new book in the queue, I thought it might be time to remember why I recommend it so often.

The Whistling Season is set in Montana in 1909. A widower with three sons takes on a housekeeper whose ad, “Can’t cook, but doesn’t bite” intrigues him. The widower and his sons get much more than they bargained for when Rose and her brother, Morrie come into their lives.

This book is an homage to education and the one room school house, and to a time when life was a bit slower, but no less complicated than it is today. The language is incredible and the story so compelling I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to reread it.

Those are mine. What books have you read repeatedly? I’m always looking for my next favorite. Looking forward to suggestions.

Peace, people!


Carefully he tucked the snowflake patterned flannel sheets up around her chin.

His flattened palm against her forehead confirmed his worst fears.

As he explained where he was bound she concentrated on a spot above and to the

Right of his head where a piece of molding had torn loose and dangled listlessly.

Her wandering gaze concerned him, but he dared not turn his face from hers

As she wondered how long the house had been in such a state of disrepair. 

Days? Months? Years, perhaps? Why did it matter now that he was leaving?

In spite of his reassurances, she knew she’d be gone before he returned.

“Coward,” she thought and continued contemplating the plaster. 

Any time I’m sick I imagine this horrible scenario in which I’m left alone to die. Thank you, Stephen King for planting this morbid idea in my head.



Twice as Nice

Second Time Around

Tell us about a book you can read again and again without getting bored — what is it that speaks to you?

Generally when I’ve finished reading a book I’m done with it, regardless of how wonderful or well-written it was. There are two books, however, that I’ve read multiple times and will read again: Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird and Stephen King’s The Stand.

To Kill a Mockingbird should be mandatory reading for every citizen of this country. If one ever doubted the existence of white privilege Ms. Lee spells it out in this tale of racism and heroism in a small southern town. 

King’s The Stand is the most frightening book I’ve ever read. Good and evil literally battle for dominion of the earth in this post-apocalyptic thriller. Often I joke that I read portions of it with my eyes closed. 

In both cases movies have been made from these novels, and I believe a remake of The Stand is in the works. By all means watch the films, but the books are worthy of reading and reading again. 

Note: I’ve also read all of the Harry Potter books numerous times, but I’d already broken the prompt’s rule and didn’t want to go to Daily Prompt prison.

Peace, people.



Without You

Daily Prompt: What’s the most time you’ve ever spent apart from your favorite person? Tell us about it.

Studly Doright and I have been married for 39 years, and he’s one of my favorite people. Thanks to eight job transfers, all for his career, we’ve spent quite a bit of time apart. 

Physically the longest period of separation was during our last move. He headed to Tallahassee in July of 2012 while I stayed in Mahomet, Illinois, to sell our home. It was Thanksgiving before we were reunited. He did fly me down for a long weekend, though, to house hunt. As separations go, it wasn’t too awful.

The toughest time we had to deal with was our move from New Salem, North Dakota, to Great Bend, Kansas. Studly left us in November to begin his new job while the kids finished the school semester at New Salem (Home of the Fighting Holsteins), and I readied the house for sale. It sold quickly, and we made arrangements to move, but then both kids and I came down with the flu. 

We finally recovered only to have one raging blizzard after another paralyze our part of the country preventing the moving truck from getting to our home. The crew got through to pack up our belongings, but couldn’t get the big truck up to the house. 

Finally fed up with delays, I packed overnight bags, stuffed the kids and the cat in the car and headed due south, leaving detailed instructions for the movers. I could barely see the road for the snow, and every now and then I’d have to skirt around abandoned vehicles stuck in drifts. I prayed a lot. 

As soon as we crossed into South Dakota the skies cleared and the temperatures warmed. I felt like we’d escaped from a Stephen King novel, The Shining 2.0.

With all my heart I hope we are through with moving and the separation it brings.  I’ve told my family I’ll consider going to an assisted living community some day, as long as Studly comes along.

Peace, people!

A little Harry Nillson for your listening pleasure. Damn, I love this song.


To Sleep, Perchance to Dream

When our first son was very young, perhaps not yet two, he and I were snuggled under the covers on a cold, snowy morning. Studly Doright had left for work, so little Doright and I were catching a few precious zzzz’s.

As we basked in that delicious laziness that comes with sleeping in, little Doright asked sleepily, “Mommy, who is that man?”

I said, “What man, sweetie?”

“That one, Mommy, in the curtains.”

I saw nothing, but my heartbeat sped up just the same. Who knows who or what little Doright saw.

On another occasion I awakened from a nightmare in which Studly was chasing little Doright and me with a knife. I’d just finished reading Stephen King’s The Shining, so that dream was something of a logical consequence. However, from his crib in the room next to ours I heard little Doright crying, “Daddy, don’t hurt us! Daddy stop!”

Whoa! That was a surreal moment! Written in response to The Daily Post’s Daily Prompt.

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