From the Heart Award

Blogger Kristian Fogarty bestowed this award on me. apparently there are NO requirements, but I’d like to pass it on, so will take this opportunity to mention some other bloggers I find interesting and you might, too.

WHAT IS IT?

This award goes to bloggers who primarily focus on personal writing. These posts are often from the writer to the world at large, or from the writer to the writer themselves and they just allow us access to their mind.

RULES:

There are no rules, no questions, no participation requirements for this award. It is given from bloggers to other bloggers. It was designed by the Haunted Wordsmith and is given to other bloggers as a gesture of thanks and appreciation for their work.

I won’t do this all in one session — I know quite a few bloggers who write really interesting posts — but will start with a few.

Alistair at dralimanonlife, tells us a bit more about himself every weekend, doing Cee’s Share Your World Writing challenge. He also likes doing Flash Fiction with a neat little twist at the end. Here’s one of his stories.

Keith at keithsramblings.net is another devotee of flash fiction with a bit of humor woven in, like this tale of a poor Cassidy missing his leg.

Rochelle Wisoff-Fields at rochellewisoff.com is the lady who hosts Friday Fictioneers and sends out the photos for writers to concoct stories about. she herself is a history buff. She likes presenting neat biographical background info about well-known people.

By now this post is full of links and my coffee’s getting cold, so I’d better quit. Wishing you all a great weekend.

Mini-Review for Mini-Tales

Beginnings and Endings: a Selection of Short Stories

© 2017 by Jane Suen

This book contains four short tales, nothing profound or suspenseful; just everyday scenes in the lives of several people — and one growing thing. A quick read, interesting and well edited. I noticed several wordings that made me wonder if the writer’s first language is English, but over all it’s very well done. Makes you want to read the longer background story or the “what happens next?”

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Going through my Kobo e-reader this afternoon, taking a look at the books I’ve downloaded. A number of these are coming from new authors, giving away their books in the hopes the recipients would write a review. So I’d best do my part. 🙂

Inquisitive

A Hearty Vintage

Our neighbor down the street’s a hoot
an early 30’s vintage,
witty, spry and curious
despite a little shrinkage.

She’s tasted drought and war and loss
no life of ease was given;
that hasn’t slowed her down a bit
she says life’s for the livin’.

Her husband was the sort to dwell
on everything that’s missing
and thought the world’s a sorry place,
while she claimed life’s for kissing.

She keeps track of the latest news
hears all the gossip cooking;
some folks say she’s seen it all
but she says she’s still looking.

She’ll Scrabble you with awesome words
at touring she’s a pro;
no lazy days in rocking chairs —
she’s off to Mexico.

Funny Hat Woman

🙂
I wrote this poem last Wednesday when the Ragtag Daily Prompt word was VINTAGE, but never got around to polish & post it.
Today I’ll be lazy, give this a tweak and post it as my response to the prompt from Your Daily Word: LAZY.

Book Review: The Nose Knows

A Bugle Boy Crime Caper (Duane & Bugle Boy Book 1)

by DeForest Day

Bugle Boy, a clever bloodhound pup, was put through the TSA Canine Training Center in San Antonio, TX, and graduated at the top of his class. He became part of the TSA airport security team, able to sniff out a many different narcotic and explosive substances on a baggage carousel.

However, Bugle Boy was not trained to distinguish between average citizens and politicians. So when he saw a man trying to slip past the security screening, Bugle Boy howled about it. And further, he notified his handler about an illegal drug he was sniffing in the man’s pants’ pocket. The fellow turned out to be a Republican congressman; he was outraged and demanded the handler be fired and the dog euthanized.

A higher-ranking security officer was called to deal with the complaint. Alas for the congressman, the officer was not only a stickler for the law, but a Democrat to boot. When he insisted on a strip search, the Republican congressman pulled a baggie of marijuana from his pocket and tossed it at him.

This was apparently legal, but not apt to be well tolerated should this revelation come to the ears of his rather conservative Idaho voters. Charges and counter-charges were quietly dropped. The politician did insist the hound be fired, but Bugle Boy was officially a Federal Civil Service employee and you can’t fire a civil servant without a public hearing — which was apt to adversely affect the senator’s popularity at the polls. So Bugle Boy found himself part of a package deal — a new SUV being the other part — shipped off to a tiny Pennsylvania town with a three-person police force.

Here he was partnered with Duane, a local cop who perhaps wasn’t the brightest bulb in the chandelier, but did well at catching speeders. Bugle Boy’s bored after the excitement of a busy airport but when they get called to a shooting of sorts he finally gets his chance to sniff out some local excitement. Which gives the police chief some anxious moments in his campaign for re-election.

I enjoyed this story, a rather short one as novels go — Amazon says 42 pages. I liked the small-town setting and gentle spoof on local characters, politics and politicians. It was never uproariously funny, more like chuckles all through. The language is mild for the most part; there are a few expletives, off-color jokes and insinuations.

I got this e-book for free with the idea that I should write an honest review. If you’re interested in reading it, right now this first-in-the-series book is free on both Amazon and Kobo.

This book review is my response to the Ragtag Daily Prompt word: SPOOF

Books: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine

I downloaded an e-book from the local lending library a couple of days ago and read it yesterday evening. Now I want to tell you about it because I thought it was a really neat novella and well worth reading.

The title: Sweet, Thoughtful Valentine
Book #13 in the Isabel Dalhousie series

© 2016 by Alexander McCall Smith
Publisher: Penguin Random House

This is a unique story about ethics.

Isabel Dalhousie, a young wife in Edinburgh, owner and editor of the Review of Applied Ethics meets a friend at an art previewing prior next week’s auction. As they visit and look around at the upcoming sale items, Roz draws Isabel’s attention to one picture. She shares a bit of vital information about its value — and extracts from Isabel the promise that she’ll not tell a soul. Since the auctioneer obviously doesn’t realize the painting’s true worth, Roz plans to get it for a song, resell it, and make a small fortune.

The story’s maybe a bit wordy in places as Isabel muses over the ethics of this and other sticky situations she encounters during the week. She tries to sort out what she should do, if anything, with the help — or dissuasion — of her husband. He calls her his “sweet, thoughtful valentine” and wishes she would stay out of other people’s problems.

The art drama intensifies when she meets another friend by chance one day. Ruth’s in a financial bind, having to sell her home, also her mother’s belongs, to pay for her mother’s stay in a nursing home where she’s getting really good care. Ruth has sent a few of her mother’s paintings to an upcoming art sale. They likely won’t bring much, but…

The awful truth dawns — and Isabel is really in the treacle.

The writer has done a great job of squeezing poor Isabel between a rock and a hard place, between one friend and another, between promise and conscience. Will she practice the ethics she preaches or mind her own business? I found the solution intriguing  and unexpected.

This author has also written the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency Series, the 44 Scotland Street Series and the Portuguese Irregular Verbs Series and others.

Time to Turn Around

Have you ever had a dream in which some truth was revealed that you really needed to hear? I’ve had many a vivid dream in my day and most are just a jumble. They may affect me emotionally, but nothing positive settles in once I’m awake. However, if the dream tells me something important about myself or the way I’m going, I wake up with the understanding that “this is the truth.”

Well, I had a dream a few nights ago that told me something important about my writing, and I woke up getting the message clearly.

Dreams often incorporate bits of reality and so did this one: the Dept of Highways is building a road not so far away and we’ve seen gravel piles where they are preparing to fill a low spot. My imagination worked this into my dream.

In my dream, my husband and I were driving a large pickup truck down a two-lane highway when some lady told us, “If you take that road you’ll get to a fair. (Or amusement park?) She gave us directions and we decided to check it out. So we took the turn off she indicated, and the graveled country road was easy for awhile. We made the turns as she instructed — or thought we did — but our road petered out to more of a trail, with scrubby trees close on either side.

Did we miss a turn or did she tell us wrong? At any rate, our trail ended abruptly at the edge of a ravine. We stopped and got out to survey the situation. This ravine — perhaps once a brook but now dry — wasn’t deep. A 20-ft drop maybe? But impassible.

Half a dozen truck-loads of gravel had been dumped in at our side, obviously an abandoned effort to build a road across. I thought, “If we had a shovel we might smooth out some of these mounds of gravel, maybe make it flat enough to drive on for a bit, but where would that get us?

There was no fair or amusement park in sight. We saw a clearing on the other side of the ravine, an acreage with a house, a large grassy area, a couple of horses grazing. Not where we wanted to go. Looking uphill beyond this yard we saw a highway curving past. We watched a few cars and realized that’s where we SHOULD be. On that highway.

So near and yet so far, with no way of getting there from here!

We were negotiating a rather difficult U-turn when I woke up, still with this sense of being in the wrong place, on the wrong road. A person could apply this many ways, but the thought came to me just as I awoke: this is where my writing has been going lately.

For over a year now I’ve been into writing flash fiction and have really enjoyed it. You learn a LOT about being concise when trying to write a story with a very limited word count. I don’t regret having taken this route. But I woke up with the sense that this is becoming a dead end for me. I need to get back on the main road again.

Unlike the road in my dream, writing flash fiction is an easy road, takes an hour or so, as opposed to “nose to the grindstone” book writing and editing. Though I did use some of my flash fiction stories in my recently published book, Silver Morning Song, most of them were done just for fun and a bit of exercise.

I started writing with the goal of producing stories for children and teens, for my grandchildren. I did publish one book, The Rescuing Day, and have several others half done, sitting in my “soon, soon” file. But writing time is limited; I’ll need to devote myself to the main goals or it will be used up on side avenues.

Yes, I’ve enjoyed the scenery but, it’s time to turn around. I’ll still write some short fiction for this blog, but it’s time I got back to working on the stories that initially inspired me. Otherwise I could spend many more hours pursuing something amusing that won’t, in the end, take me where I want to go.

That’s what my dream said to me. Road closed ahead. Turn here.

Book Review: Finding Sky

Book #1 in the Nicki Valentine Mystery Series
by Susan O’Brien
Published by Henery Press

I just finished reading this book and I’ll say it has a satisfying conclusion. This is the first book in a new series so the writer will gain confidence and in turn give her protagonist a little more confidence, in the next books.

I expect mysteries to be fairly fast-paced and suspenseful. This book isn’t. It’s more like chick-lit with a mystery element. Nicki Valentine tells us her story, explains her situation — a widow with two children — talks about her children’s personalities and behaviour, her fears and issues with safety, food, dirt, and germs. If you enjoy following friends’ day-to-day lives on Facebook, you’ll probably enjoy these open-hearted accounts of where they went, what they did, what they ate, games they played.

Nicki tells about her best friend and neighbor, Kenna, whose desire to have a baby adds the mystery angle to this tale. Andy and Kenna plan to adopt, but the eighteen-year-old mom-to-be has disappeared. Pregnant and alone, where did she go? Is she safe? Kidnapped by a teen gang? Kenna asks Nicki to help find this girl and we read of her efforts at interviews, stake-outs, and searches. Her search gets her involved with troubled teens and a gang member, understandably bringing yet more anxieties.

You see, Nicki is taking classes to become a private investigator. This is a huge stretch for her type. At the best of times she struggles with almost neurotic anxieties for herself and her children, has little self-confidence, and is rather a klutz. Her conscience prods her if she tells a lie in the course of investigating. Can she become a successful PI? She’s attracted to her hunky instructor but resists the attraction. Low self esteem kicks in. Why get her hopes up when he’d never be interested in her?

There’s a good story in here if you’re patient. I’m more a fan of classic mysteries where the sleuth is occupied with the whodunit puzzle rather than angst about herself and her abilities. But all this self-analysis is common in modern cozies. I found it easy to scroll through all the angst and day-to-day stuff and read the parts that actually deal with finding the missing girl. (Spoiler alert: Nicki does get her answers in the end.)

In my opinion the book could be cut by at least 30% — and I’d encourage the writer to get to know Miss Marple, who’s kind and clever, not always sure, but never floundering in self-reproach.

Nicki reminds me a lot of Salem Grimes, another new sleuth with a lot of down-to-earth issues and angst. She stars as The Trailer Park Princess, a series written by Kim Hunt Harris