The Best of Friends

To An Old Friend

by Edgar A. Guest

When we have lived our little lives
and wandered all their byways through,
when we’ve seen all that we shall see
and finished all that we must do,

when we shall take one backward look
off yonder where our journey ends,
I pray that you shall be as glad as I
shall be that we were friends.

Time was we started out to find
the treasures and the joys of life;
we sought them in the land of gold
through many days of bitter strife.

When we were young we yearned for fame;
in search of joy we went afar,
only to learn how very cold
and distant all the strangers are.

When we have met all we shall meet
and know what destiny has planned,
I shall rejoice in that last hour that I
have known your friendly hand.

I shall go singing down the way
off yonder as my sun descends
as one who’s had a happy life,
made glorious by the best of friends.

From Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest,
©1934 by the Reilly & Lee Co

A Light, Enjoyable Series

Over the Christmas holidays I discovered a new series and have been reading through them one after the other. This is the Markham Sisters series by Diana Xarissa, who also does the Aunt Bessie (An Isle of Man Cozy Mystery) series.

The Markham sisters are two retired teachers who spend their little inheritance windfall on a bed & breakfast in what they think will be a calm little English village. Which it is, for the most part; the locals do their best to make the sisters welcome. The constable drops in often just to check on them—and is easily persuaded to stay for a bite to eat, seeing what a great cook Joan is.

Owning a bed & breakfast has been Joan’s dream since she was young, and since she’s the older, she’s persuaded younger sister Janet to go along with the plan. But running a business and dealing with customers sometimes proves intriguing. Joan has a stronger sense of propriety — which means “no snooping.” It’s Janet who gets quite curious about people who are acting suspiciously or whose stories don’t add up. Joan tells her to mind her own business, but Janet can’t resist doing some investigating.

This series is quite tame, more along the lines of Nancy Drew mysteries. Just what I like: no dead bodies discovered, but smaller crimes like art fraud, an odd shortage of narcotics at the drug store, counterfeit money being passed, and people who aren’t who they claim to be. The novel “cases” are named alphabetically and each book is a short, easy read.

There are ordinary day-to-day details some might find rather boring, but I enjoy the setting and characters. I’d take away one star, though, for the way the sisters interact sometimes. They are in their 60s but Joan is still bossing Janet like a teen older sister — at times this seems overplayed. And Janet, when she’s miffed, still sticks her tongue out behind Joan’s back. I’d think if they’ve lived together all their lives they’d have developed more of a respect for each other, show more of an accepting, “live-and-let-live” attitude. (Mind you, I’ve never lived with a sister for years, so I can’t say what roles they might fall into.)

There is a certain “ghost” angle written into these tales that, for my part, could have been left out. In the stories I’ve read so far it’s only been references to sounds Janet hears and occasionally a strange wind slamming a door.

Anyway, I’d give this series four stars. I read each book separately, but I see the author has published collections now, available free to those of you who have Kindle Unlimited. Here are first four cases:

A Markham Sisters Collection - ABCD by [Xarissa, Diana]

 

Birds, Books and Verses

Hello Everyone!

I’ve been dropping in here and there on other people’s blogs this month, but haven’t posted much of anything myself. It feels like “too long” but my time has been devoted to going over and polishing an acquaintance’s book.

Some great writer once said, “A book is never finished; it’s finally just abandoned.” Well, coming to the end of my fifth edit, I’m ready to abandon this book to the marketplace. I still have to set it up on Amazon and insert the images, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel.

Hari & Rudi in the Land of Fruit is a Christian allegory along the lines of Pilgrim’s Progress. The main characters are two young teens who find themselves on an intriguing journey through a strange land. Here they meet creatures who represent the fruit of the Holy Spirit: Joy, Peace, Love, Goodness, Patience, etc.

Doing this work has given me a good idea of that final drive necessary to get a book “out there” in a short time. (I’ve written a few of my own that are just waiting for that kind of commitment. 😉 )

To get some idea of teen fiction, I’ve been reading some very interesting books for teens, like the first book in Gordon Korman’s Kidnapped series. He’s a very good writer and this book is WELL done!

Last night, for something different — and because I enjoy reading haiku — I downloaded a book through Kindle Unlimited. The title is Redbird tree: one thousand haiku, and it’s written by James Dildine. I really like his introduction, about how the great haiku poet, Basho, didn’t limit himself to a rigid form, but wanted each verse to share a mini- experience with his readers. Then the author shares his own verses, not fussing about exact number of syllables and such. Which is fine, but…

What I’ve learned from this book so far is how important it is to get the formatting right — and if you can’t, then hire someone who can. Poetry is as much visual as sound, so when verses look like this…

86.) Afternoon rain The afternoon

rain
was cool and very welcome
spirits damp, not wet 87.) Neighbors

leaving

Storms came after noon,
with antlers high
they both left,thun-
der followed them

…it makes your eyes cross!
Note: This writer numbers and titles each haiku, and about half of his verses come out normally.

I took a break from editing Thursday and we went into the city to meet some writer friends for coffee and do some shopping. This afternoon and tomorrow dinner I’m cooking at the Villa, the seniors’ residence where I work on a casual basis. While in the city I saw this neat little car, so of course had to write a verse about it:

Mercedes
cherry red
executive class

Another treat we had yesterday: around 5 pm I looked out the back bedroom window and saw the Grand duke himself — our resident great-horned owl — sitting on a branch behind our property. He sat there awhile, so we got quite a clear look at him, all puffed up for the -20̊C evening.

We’ve actually had a very mild winter this time around, but right now the temp has dipped low. Supposed to be much milder next week. And a SUPER-moon + lunar eclipse tomorrow, I hear!

Thinking of birds all puffed up from the cold reminds me of the magpies we’re seeing hanging around our feeder. Which led me to write this verse last night and post it on Tree Top Haiku:

Winter Magpies

winter magpies
fat from feasting at the feeder
parade past the cats
🙂

And one more bird I’ll leave with you as a smile this morning. Apparently this is an aracani +/or tucano. The “thought” is mine. 😉
unique aricari

Books: Rescuing Finley

I have great news for readers who like an inspiring contemporary fiction story. Dan Walsh is one of my favorite writers and the first book in his Forever Home Novels, Rescuing Finley, is FREE today on Amazon. NOTE: Last Day of giveaway.

Rescuing Finley CoverMy Book Review:

Two people in desperate situations, one abandoned dog.

Amy Wallace was a recovering meth addict, who lost her job and needed friends. Sad to say, two “friends” had in mind some shoplifting: they wanted to steal an expensive ring from a department store’s jewellery section. And they had in mind Amy should be the one to pocket the goods. Which meant Amy was the one who got caught and sent to prison.

Ever since he finished high school Chaz wanted to sign up with the Marine Corps. His mother protested angrily when he told her, “I signed up today. It’s for two years — but they’ll go fast.” She needed him to help her survive. And what about his dog, Finley? Did Chaz expect her to look after him?

Chaz was Finley’s whole world, the one human who loved him. Chaz’s mother barely tolerated Finley in her small apartment. We understand through his eyes how abandoned and confused he was when Chaz left — and never returned. Finley couldn’t know his master’s life ended on a battlefield, but he knew something was very wrong. Lost in her own grief Chaz’s mother couldn’t deal with a dog — especially a huge one like Finley. Feeling guilty but desperate, she dropped him off at an animal shelter.

Chris Seger’s life as he knew it also ended while on a mission in Afghanistan, when he stepped on a land mine. A permanent ticket home — minus one leg. Stateside, after months of therapy, he found work with an understanding and flexible employer, but he wrestled constantly with PTSD, depression and the nightmares. Then a pal suggested he look into this new program: service dogs for the disabled.

Dan Walsh does an excellent job of taking us through Chris, Finley, and Amy’s lives as they struggle to start again. Then he brings them together in a winning story of forgiveness and healing. At the same time he walks readers through a great program where prisoners work with dogs, training them as companions for veterans with PTSD.

I found this a terrific, heart-touching book and shed quite a few tears as I watched the story unfold. Five stars from me.

Writing Delights

Writing is a delightful pursuit. As some great author once said, “It’s easy. You just sit down at the typewriter and open a vein.”

And then there’s the joy of editing, which I’ve tried to capture in this senryu:

editor slings red ink
bloodied words fly here and there
novel shavings
🙂

Alas! Those days are long gone when writers handed their books to an editor and the editorial staff did the fixing. Now it’s up to the writer to have the manuscript error-free and print-ready. Which usually means hiring a freelance editor.

Self-Publishing Options:
Print-on-demand companies like Amazon make publishing a price-painless proposition. Download a pdf, hit publish, and you’re good to go.

Now comes the joy of marketing. If a traditional publishing company is selling your book, they expect hands-on involvement from you. If you’ve self-published with Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, or any similar company, your hands are the only ones working the Ads & Sales desk. Unless you have kin and friends who’ll help promote your book, you’re on your own.

Thankfully companies will help in small ways. I recently made a deal with PrairieView Press, the printer/seller of my children’s book, The Rescuing Day, to list it in a flyer they are sending out to bookstores.

Rescuing Day cover.jpg

Plus, I’ve just made an agreement with Amazon.com to do a special free book offer for my e-book, Silver Morning Song.

SMS Cover page
As you see in my side bar, my book will be free on Amazon.com this coming weekend, November 22 to 26. So if you enjoy my blog, with it’s mix of short fiction tales, poetry and micro-poetry, take this opportunity to get your free copy. Here’s the LINK.

NOTE: I wasn’t given the option to list this on Amazon.ca, so I’m not sure if you’ll find the FREE COPY listed there. If you’re a UK reader, I plan to make the same offer on Amazon.uk next month.

And of course, if you do pick up a copy, I’m really hoping you’ll leave an honest review on Amazon. Even a couple of sentences will help. Thanks much!