Snow, Woe and Micro-Tales

We’ve had a fair bit of snow this past week; our world is quite dazzling white now. And it has been COLD! Yesterday our grandson, now working for his dad doing snow removal, came with a loader and cleaned out our driveway. Hard to realize he’s big enough, and mature enough, to operate such big machinery. How the years do fly!

I’ve been besieged by a new ailment this week. Old Arthritis in disguise. Monday morning my right foot — particularly my big toe — started to hurt. The pain has gotten worse, the swelling increased. Looks and feels like a genuine “club foot” now as I limp around the house. Not very nice.

Heading into Week Two of NaNoWriMo today and I’m well on the way as scenes keep coming to me for my story. Since I’ll be doing a lot of sitting this week anyway, maybe I can aim to have my 50k words written by Sunday night. 🙂 Then comes the edit — though I am editing a bit as I go along. Even if it reduces my overall word count, I will take out unwanted words and fix typos. Don’t like leaving a mess to clean up later.

Speaking of writing, I just got an e-mail telling me that one of my newest 100-word stories was published on The Drabble this morning. You might call this crime fiction — or you might not. You can read it here: “I Confess”

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Books: Stand In The Wind

Something Old, Something New — Part A

This book has been around a long time, but is well worth reading:

Stand in the Wind
© 1975 by Jean Little
Puffin Books

Martha, the protagonist of the story, wanted so badly to go to summer camp and be with her friends. However, she’s an impulsive girl. A mad dash into the kitchen, followed by a sudden slip and bone-cracking fall, puts an end to her plan. The camp won’t accept her with a newly broken arm.

Then she and her older sister Ellen, find their plans change drastically. They were supposed to go to the city with their parents and younger brothers to hang out with the daughters of their mom’s best friend. But in a sudden flip, they find themselves stuck at the family cottage entertaining these two other girls. Snooty Rosemary, the elder, and her mousy baby sister Christine — or Kit, as her Dad calls her — couldn’t be more different from each other, or from Ellen and Martha.

The first day together is a total flop as the four of them realize their differences are too great to ever be friends. So now what? they decide to stick it out for three days. “Just until Wednesday,” they remind themselves, then their mothers are coming back to get them and end the icy silence.

Meanwhile, the girls make attempts to bear with each other. There are fireworks at times but little by little they loosen up and let their hair down. This book details their adventures and disasters as they cope with each other and with the circumstance of being without parental supervision.

Jean Little has penned a number of winning children’s books and this is one of them. Well written, well told, very believable, and a satisfying conclusion.

Books: Reed Ferguson, PI

This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies
The Reed Ferguson Mystery Series, Book 1

by Renee Pawlish
Click here to view on Amazon.com

Reed Ferguson has always wanted to be a Private Eye and it looks like he’s finally getting his chance. Thanks to an inheritance from his grandparents he’s opened an office and hung out his shingle. Being a devoted fan of Humphrey Bogart and noir detective movies he hangs up a poster of Bogie and Lauren Bacall, as they appeared in The Big Sleep, on his wall “as a sort of inspiration.”

Enter his first real customer: a woman with a missing husband. Peter Ghering disaappeared on a business trip and his wife, Amanda, claims she wants him found. But does she really? Reed has some serious doubts by the time he’s heard her story. An inner voice is telling him to fear this femme fatale, but it’s his first real case, his first serious crack at being a professional gumshoe.

At least he tried to be professional but he’s new to this game and his skills are pretty amateur. Long on bravado, short on forethought. To complicate matters, what starts out as a simple investigation opens up a writhing can of worms for the new Sam Slade wanna-be. The wife hasn’t been up-front with all the facts; she’s actually hired him to expose the women her husband’s been dallying with on his business trips. Little by little Reed uncovers a plot and subplot that would tax Philip Marlowe’s private eye skills.

What really happened to the successful businessman? What will happen to his wife, who wanted him to disappear so she could inherit? And what will happen to Reed if he continues to be involved in this case? Some late night visitors make it plain that they won’t tolerate his efforts to ferret out the truth.

A very well written, well edited book. The writer obviously knows her craft and has constructed a plot that will keep a reader up late at night trying to find out how this story ends. No erotic or immoral scenes in this book, but some off-color language.

I’ve read several books now by this same author and one thing I do like about them is the paucity of dead bodies. There are some, but in the books I’ve read Reed mostly engages in finding lost spouses, pets (The Maltese Felon), etc. In that sense these stories remind me of the Hardy Boys. So if you like a tamer “noir fiction,” tones of Bogie mixed with the wit of Peter Falk and the impulsive courage of Frank & Joe Hardy, you will probably like this series.

Personal Note:
Up late last night typing up this book review when, around midnight, I started to notice a skunk-ish aroma. It grew increasingly powerful, must have had a disagreement with some other critter very nearby so we spend a pretty restless night trying to escape the smell. And with the temp outside almost freezing, you don’t open windows to air things out. 🙂

We’re also besieged by box elder beetles, a.k.a. “maple bugs.” They summer outdoors and once cool weather comes, thousands of them crawl into houses and other warm places to spend the winter. We vacuum them up steadily but there are always a dozen more when we look again.

Burying my head under the covers last night, I was wishing the skunk odor would at least fumigate the bugs. 😦

Why Does God Give Some Parents Children?

Why does God put innocent little babies in lousy homes? Why doesn’t He put babies in some really good homes?

One day a young man, recently divorced in the States, used his visiting privileges to take his son away from his ex-wife and fled to Canada. His intention was to stay in Canada until the statute of limitations ran out and he could no longer be charged with abduction.

It happened that we met this fellow and he told us his story. He felt his ex-wife was a very poor mother, living a wild life, and had wanted custody of the boy for pure spite. To make matters worse, he said, she had joined a well-known religious group/cult. He was sure God wouldn’t want his little boy to be raised in that setting so he kidnapped him and fled.

I asked him, “Why does God give children to those people then, if He’d never want a child raised by them?” The fellow had no reply to this. He and the boy disappeared before we could learn the outcome to this sad story.

And what about all the just plain bad parents out there? People who have been scarred themselves, who have no parental skills, people who are druggies or mentally ill? It seems most of these folks can reproduce, yet I’ve known some really good parents who were only able to have one or two children, or who adopted children because they weren’t able to produce any.

Do you sometimes ask, “Why is God not more sensible? Why does He allow this?”

But how should God remedy this? Just never allow sinners to have children? God is extremely fair. “He maketh His rain to fall on the just and the unjust…” We were damaged ourselves and far from perfect parents, but we thank God for our lovely daughter who has grown us up as well as been raised by us.

Sometimes it’s the very innocence of a child that brings conviction to a hard heart. Having a baby brought a very dear friend of mine back to God.

Our society has developed the mind-set that if I’m not happy, someone else is to blame. It’s how I was raised, the home I came out of , the insults and abuses I suffered, that determines my happiness or lack of it. But there are a lot of people who’ve grown up in very bad homes that made something of themselves, and those that grew up in horrific settings who turned to God as adults, found the strength to overcome past abuse, and are spiritual leaders today.

The theory is that if you raise a child in a nurturing setting, you’ll have a well-balanced child who will go on to live a successful life, but we’ve all seen adults who grew up in good homes with the best parental input and made bad choices so their lives have turned out rotten.

Joshua says to the children of Israel, “Choose ye this day…” The Bible gives us to understand that our own happiness is up to us: it’s a consequence of the choices we have made and are making today.

I believe God set this world in its order and it basically continues that way without Him straightening it out or cracking the whip over us all the time. He rather works by calling all the hurting people –which is every one of us– to find healing. “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matt 11:28

It’s amazing what God has done for those who, in all sincerity, sought His mercy. If we become angry and bitter at God for what life has handed us, our hope for improvement is thwarted and we tend to become our parents all over again. Then our own children will tell the same sad tales of their upbringing.

Those of us who have found this rest and felt His healing would like to shout it out to the world: “It’s true! It’s beautiful! It’s free to all.”

That’s why some of us blog. 🙂

Book Review: Tangled in Time

TANGLED IN TIME

Miss Main Street Book 1
By Angela Castillo

Although the book description hints at a mystery, I found no suspense and not much tension anywhere in the story. The pace is day-by-day leisurely with lots of setting details. Romance isn’t the main focus of the book, either. I see this more as chick-lit or general fiction with a romantic interest and elements of Christian fiction.

The main character, Darcy, has inherited her grandmother’s antique store in Wimber, Texas, and is determined to make it a viable business. There first few chapters are full of description, as recalls past summer holidays here, settles into her new property and prepares for opening day. Thoughts about God, his plan, a scripture verse and/or prayer are mentioned now and then.

Mention is also made occasionally of her grandmother’s secret closet and Darcy’s determined to open it and discover the contents; I guess this is the mystery angle. Another is the annoying town merchant who causes trouble and worry to the new owner. But why? Plus Darcy has the general stress of getting her store up and running and dealing with past and present love interests.

I think she comes across as wimpy when she’s avoids breaking up with her LA boyfriend. She thinks “It’s over” and he should realize it, yet she doesn’t voice her thoughts, dodges the unpleasant good-bye, ignores his calls, then sends him a “break-up text.” When he shows up wanting to know what gives, she thinks he’s self-absorbed and rude — labels that could apply to her behavior as well at this point. However, all we learn about the men in the story is through her feelings about them. This is what makes me think chick-lit: events are told only through her eyes; no other perspectives are given.

The book is well written and edited; I found only three minor typos. As a bonus, this book brings to light some interesting Texas history. The story flows along smoothly, if rather slowly — which suits the small-town feel — and the conclusion is satisfying. It’s light, clean reading for those who don’t want a lot of drama, terror, or sexual details.

I was given a free copy of this book from the Story Cartel in exchange for an honest review.

Who Needs School

Luanna was finding her first year of school quite a problem. She didn’t like getting up so early to get ready and then sitting for twenty minutes on the school bus every day. In class she struggled to remember all those sticks and balls and which one said which sound, all the shapes of the numbers and how many circles to draw for each.

So much work! Why did she have to know all that when her Mom already did and was so good at reading stories to them? She liked colouring and recess, but really she’d far rather stay at home and play with her little brother.

One day she was at Grandma’s for a cookie-bake and tea party; as they sipped their tea she told Grandma all about it. “So you see, Grandma, school is too hard. I wish I didn’t have to go.”

Grandma tried to encourage her. “Try your best, Sweetie, ’cause someday you’ll be big and you’ll want to get a job and earn some money for yourself. Then you’ll need to know all these things.”

Luanna puzzled over that for a minute, then her little face lit up. “I know! I can just stay at home and get a pension like you and Grandpa.”

smile-421163_640

Found the perfect solution, Grandma.

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Originally posted on my poetry blog, Swallow in the Wind.