Pass the Word on Gloria Teague’s New One

They say word of mouth is the best advertising in the world, and I tend to believe it. When someone says, “This restaurant is great,” I’m much more likely to try it than if I see an ad saying the same thing. Ditto for books, music, stores, etc. (Not so much for movies. I’m not a movie-watcher. I’d much rather be reading or writing.)

So, anyhoo, let’s test the word-of-mouth theory. Today I’m going to tell you about Gloria Teague’s newest book,Through the Shadows.I’ve been a fan of Gloria’s since I met her. She’s one of the nicest, friendliest down-home people you’ll ever meet — exactly my kind.

The first book of hers I read was Saturday Night Cocoa Fudge, an all-too-fun collection about her childhood. The last was Safe in the Heart of a Miracle: More True Stories of Medical Miracles — stuff in there to make the hair on your neck stand up.

Her current is a paranormal called Through the Shadows. The heroine is a romance author — ah, I liked her just for that. Trust me, writing romances is not for the faint of heart. There’s also the heroine’s mother (a healthy mother-daughter relationship in a book — yea!!), her agent, her ex-husband and, of course, a to-die-for hero who travels from his own time to hers for their happily-ever-after. I love the idea that we’ll each find our own perfect mate even if we’re born centuries apart. Sigh . . .

So, now the word-of-mouth . . . Go to Amazon and buy this book, then tell all your friends to tell all their friends. Life is too short to miss a lovely story like this.

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BINGE READING

Yes, I know. I forgot to post last week. I just got through a five week period of family drama. And, no, I won’t bore you with the details, but it left me emotionally exhausted.  When I go through various emotional whatevers, I tend to binge read.

That’s where you sit and do nothing but read. You eat a lot of cereal so you don’t have to cook.  You work your job, but if they ask for volunteers to go home early, you always stick up your hand. You turn your underwear inside out so you can wear it one more time before washing.  Okay, that last isn’t true, but when I’m binge reading, I do THINK about it for awhile.

Most times, my binge reading is one author.  Sometimes, it’s Anne McCaffery and the first 10 or 12 books in her Dragonriders series. Or when I need some kick-ass, it’s J.D. Robb’s In Death series. Occasionally, I’ll read a new author and binge read on their entire back list.

This past couple of weeks it’s been Betty Neels. For those of you who have never read her (or have and don’t understand the allure), she writes sweet English romances. There are many episodes where the hero and heroine do nothing more than talk about commonplace things while walking the dogs over five miles of fields. And she does it by telling, not showing, yet there is something about the ambling pace of the story that calls to me in those times of emotional stress.

I binge read Betty when I was stressed over finances during the early years of my divorce. And she was there for me after many a hard and long winter season of RSV. And she’s here for me now when I need quiet green English countryside and rambling conversation between hero and heroine. I drown myself in the English dialogue, usually understandable in context, but I’m still unclear about beans on toast for lunch??

In the end, this binge of reading will end then same way all the others do.  I’ll be relaxed, fulfilled, and in love with romance again. Best of all, usually after my binge of reading, I go on a binge of writing. Well worth the few weeks I lose doing nothing but read, every spare minute I can get.

Happily in the Hereafter

As I replied to Jackie’s comment to last weeks’ Retreat to Creativity, I realized  that had it not been for that retreat, I might not have begun writing the short stories that make up SCARY MONDAYS. The work we did that weekend gave me the confidence to put my work out there for people to read. The following is an excerpt from SCARY MONDAYS, an anthology of flash fiction and poems written by me and my daughter KT, now available at www.amazon.com. With our next retreat nearing, I thought this story would be appropriate.

“This is stupid,” Laura complained. “Every year it gives me the same name.  Rafe.”

“Oh, hush.” Susan patted the carpet next to the coffee table.  With affection, she ordered, “Sit your butt down and spin.”

Huffing out an irritated sigh, Laura nudged Kathlyn and Sandy’s rear-ends.  Making space on the floor, she plopped down. Every year their local romance writers group spent a weekend in retreat. Perfecting their craft, they sat through seminars on plotting, characterization, and the business of selling romance. Over the years it’d become a tradition to end the workshop with pizza and wine, gossip, and a goofy game played only by the single members of the chapter called, “Who’s your prince charming?”

“So here’s how it works,” Linda explained to Jennifer, the newest member of the chapter. “We put the Ouija Board on the table.” Linda tapped the board. “But we don’t use a planchette. We use an empty beer bottle.”

“It’s kind of a twisted version of Spin the Bottle,” Meg added. “So you spin the bottle. Each letter the spout lands on spells out the name of the guy you’re going to marry.”

“Who came up with this game?” Jean asked.

“I don’t remember.” Marilyn laughed as she elbowed Jackie, the chapter president. “I just remember being a little tipsy.”

“We’ve been playing this game for thirteen years,” Deanna said. “And for thirteen years, it’s been the same name for Laura.”

“Rafe.” Laura shook her head. “I’m mean seriously! Have you ever met a guy in real life named Rafe?”

“Lots of writers use the name Rafe. It’s sexy,” the other Jackie in the group countered.

“I think it’s Irish.”Ashley grinned and wiggled her eyebrows. “I almost named one of my pirates Rafe.”

“It means Tough Man,” Annie put in.

“Whatever.” Laura rolled her eyes. “Year after year, I get the same name. Why can’t the Ouija Board  give me a common name, like George, or John, or Paul? Someone I might actually meet. But oh, no. I get an exotic name like Rafe.”

Peggy pointed her cane at Laura. “Just spin the bottle, dear.”

With a flick of her wrist, Laura gave the bottle a turn as her fellow writers looked on. Just as it had for thirteen years, the Ouija Board offered up the same name: R. A. F. E. Disgusted, Laura rose, walked over to the kitchen counter. “I need another glass of wine.”

“Cheer up.” Judy patted her shoulder. “This could be you’re lucky year.”

On Sunday morning, they packed their cars, promised to see each other at next month’s meeting, and headed home. On the drive back, Laura’s cell phone began to play her ringtone, Sweet Child of Mine. She reached for the phone sitting on the passenger seat along with her purse. Fumbling the phone, she dropped it on the floorboard. She should’ve safely maneuvered her Jeep to the side of the road. But the phone was just within reach. If she unfastened her seatbelt, she could get it.

Laura surfaced hovering just inches above someone’s nicely manicured front lawn. Confused, she chewed a fingernail. A crowd had gathered. Her Jeep was wrapped around a big, solid oak. Her body had smashed through the windshield. Her head and part of her torso lay on the hood of the car. The rest of her was draped over the steering wheel.  Sirens wailed as paramedics arrived.

“That probably hurt.”

Turning, Laura found herself facing Tall, Dark, and Wow! Just wow!  Mr. Gorgeous grinned apologetically. “I think you’re dead.” He pointed toward the crash. Laura swiveled her head in time to watch the EMTs pull both halves of her body from the wreckage.

Crossing her arms over her chest, Laura narrowed her eyes. “If I’m dead how can you see me? How can you talk to me?”

His smile just got wider and sexier. Laura pointed a once well manicured finger at him. “You’re a ghost.”  She frowned, looked at him, back to the accident scene, then back to him. She tapped her chest where her heart no longer beat. “And I’m a ghost.”

There was no mistaking the attraction in his eyes.  He looked her up and down, eyes traveling with approval over her curves. “Yep.”

She moved toward him, glided, she realized with awe. Hand outstretched she offered, “I’m Laura.”

“Rafe,” he said as he accepted her hand.

She dropped his hand, and started to giggle. Embarrassed, yet amused by Fate’s upturned middle finger, she looked back as the ambulance carrying her body to the morgue drove away. “Of course you are, because this is my lucky day and there are no Rafe’s in real life.” Seeing the puzzled look on his handsome face, she stifled a laugh, waving her hand. “It’s a long story.”

He twined his fingers with hers. “We’ve got time.”

Again, Laura began to snicker. “So tell me, Rafe,” she asked as they began to float away. “How do ghosts have sex?”

That oh so kissable mouth, bowed up. “I don’t know. But we’ve got an eternity to figure it out.”

Memorial Day 2012

Susan did a good blog about the history of Memorial Day last Saturday. I thought I’d show you pictures from Oklahoma’s National Cemetery. If you’ve never been to your states national cemetery, you should go. It’s very humbling to stand among all of these white markers and not dwell on the fact that a good portion of the people buried there gave their lives during a war or conflict. The others served in the military, fighting to preserve your freedom.

But on Memorial Day, just standing in the middle of the cemetery will make you shiver. There are flags everywhere. Lining the drive, the walkways, paying homage to each and every veteran buried there. You won’t find your states flag there, just the flag of the United States.

YOUR flag.

I grew up just down the road from this cemetery so it has always held a special place in my heart.

This section was opened up in the late 60’s during the VietNam war.

These small squares are where people have been relocated (after the cemetery was established) but their identities were lost. Some go back to the early 1800’s.

This is the walk up to the main flagpole. There’s also an MIA flag there.

I love this cemetery and all that it represents. AMERICA.

God bless all those that have served, and are currently serving, in our military. God bless America.

Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead

Mierlo War Cemetery, Mierlo, The Netherlands -...

As far as I know, there aren’t any songs pertaining to it. And I can’t think of one movie that’s built around it. But this is the Memorial Day Weekend.

You can tell it’s the beginning of summer holiday weekend, can’t you? The weather’s warm–at least here in Okie Land–people are crowding the grocery stores in preparation for get-togethers, getting their boats ready to take off for the lake and it seems everyone is busy getting ready to play.

Even here on the blog, only three sluts posted this week, and that’s if you count me. 🙂

Most of us work, work, work and hurry, hurry, hurry, just to get ready for this holiday weekend. And that’s just a little bit strange when I think about it.

It’s not as if we’re going Europe or Hawaii for the celebration. So why do we do it? Why do we stop our lives and neglect whatever we can that won’t cause us too much trouble, so we can get ready? Especially when we know there’ll be just that much more to do when we get back to normal?

To be honest when I was a kid (yep, gonna show my age here) Memorial Day–we called it Decoration Day–passed and hardly caused a bump in the road.

I remember going to a country cemetery that didn’t have perpetual care to clean up around our relatives’ graves, but I don’t remember a big hoopla happening over the weekend.

Memorial Day became the last Monday in May in 1971. Before that, Decoration Day was on May 30th, and I’m not sure if people got a day off from work or not.

A little history: Did you know that Decoration Day started in the South just after the Civil War? Of course, it makes sense. Often people in the south had family cemeteries, that were not far from the house. Even if their loved ones had died on a battlefield far away and were buried there, they put up a memorial tombstone for them in the family plot.

And those who lived in cities, who didn’t have private cemeteries, wanted their war heroes’ graves cared for.

Think about Gone with the Wind, toward the end of the movie.

 

*Do not tell me you’ve never watched GWTW. It’s a wonderful movie! Maybe not a “romance,” per se, but it has a uber great hero–Rhett–and a bigger-than-life KA heroine–Scarlett!*

Okay, those of you who’ve watched GWTW (the rest of you–get it! Watch it!) remember the discussion between Dolly Merriwether and the doctor’s wife about how great Rhett was? Dolly talks about him giving a lot of money to the Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead.

That was Decoration or Memorial Day. The point to the holiday was to have a day to decorate the graves of war dead. Now we hurry to decorate the graves (if we believe in that sort of thing, and yes, my family does) so we’ll have the rest of the weekend to do whatever.

Since 1971, when we started planning to have that three day weekend, family dynamics have changed. Most have two working parents in the household or a single parent that has to work.

Having an extra day and a chance to spend quality time together is a great reason to work, work, work and hurry, hurry, hurry.

It’s a time to make happy memories, and spend time laughing and playing. We can teach our children to swim or fish or ski and that Mom or Dad isn’t just about work.

BTW: If you have a few moments this weekend, drive through a cemetery even if you aren’t decorating. It’s beautiful. The stones with all those flowers sitting on them look like a church full of ladies, wearing their Easter bonnets.

Oh, wait. I’m showing my age again. 🙂

Two questions for you–

  1. How are you spending your Memorial Day weekend?
  2. Do you or don’t you decorate?

A Retreat to Creativity

Our writers group is planning a retreat.  For me personally, I always enjoy our retreats. They are a great opportunity to get better acquainted with my fellow authors, other people like me, who listen to the voices in their heads and aren’t ashamed to admit it.  I can’t tell you how life affirming that is to know that if I am crazy for listening to the voices in my head and writing down all they tell me, I’m in VERY good company.

At one of our retreats several years ago, Jackie Kramer presented a wonderful day-long workshop.  My favorite part was when she gave us this sentence, “Toby looked across the crowded room.”   Then she told us we had ten minutes to write the beginning paragraph to not one, but three separate stories.  Trust me – it’s not as easy as it sounds.  The point of this exercise, I think, was to teach each of us how to first, trust our writing instincts, and two, not to dismiss any story idea.

So below are my three separate story beginnings. (As you can tell, I was in the mood for a ghost story.) I’ve posted my story ideas below. Now I invite you to post too. But you’re on the honor system – you get ten minutes to craft your beginning.

Clock’s ticking.

#1.  Toby looked across the crowded room. He saw the ghost of a young child holding a heart-shaped box. The child beckoned with her eyes and held the box at arm’s length. As Toby crossed the room, a green-eyed demon stepped into his path and snatched the box away.  “You can’t have that. It’s mine,” the demon jeered. “But it’s my heart,” Toby said.

#2. Toby looked across the crowded room. A painting of a white house with green shutters hung on the wall opposite him. The picture tugged at his heart, although he’d never seen the picture or the house before. But he knew it was where he belonged. Urgently, he scanned the gallery looking for the artist. He had to know who painted the picture and why this house called to him.

3. Toby looked across the crowded room. The woman standing near the base of the stairs stood out from all the other mourners at his mother’s funeral.  The woman was dressed in a wedding gown. He threaded his way past the groups of family and friends who gathered today pay their last respects. As he reached the foot of the stairs, the woman turned and started up to the second floor. He followed her. “Who are you?” he asked.  At the top of the stairs, the woman in white turned and without a word reached out to gently stroke his face.  She stepped back then vanished before his eyes.

Turning Pages

There’s nothing like turning the page of a good book to see what happens next. To see what adventures the characters will explore. What obstacles and adversities they will overcome. To see them tested before they finally claw their way to success to find their happily ever after.

During this time of year, life will imitate art. Thousands of high school seniors are leaving the security of their basic education and embarking on a new life, one they eagerly anticipate. They don’t know what awaits them (of course, none of us really do), but they’re shedding their childhoods and becoming adults. Some will go on to technical schools, some to college, some to the military. Some will walk down the aisle to say their vows, then starting their own families.

Whatever their paths, their lives will be like a new page, a new chapter or even a new book. They know what they’ve left behind as it has shaped them as a person. Everyone they’ve come in contact with from their families, to fellow students, to their teachers have influenced them in one fashion or another. Now it’s up to them to write the next chapter of their lives. To work toward the goals they’ve set for themselves.

I hope they never stop. Never stop learning…never stop growing.

Never stop turning those pages.