Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Meet Susan Mary Malone

Please welcome Susan Malone to It's Not All Gravy as today's Wednesday's Guest. Susan is an author, editor and a regular guest at The Blood Red Pencil.  I am so happy to have her here today as she shares a bit about family and writing with a family member.

Thank you for inviting me to be your guest, Maryann. I’m both an author and an editor, with five traditionally published books (one novel and four works of co-authored non-fiction) to my credit.  Mainly I write literary fiction, but of course, have to eat! I’ve also had a litany of short stories published. As a freelance editor, over forty books I’ve edited have been sold to Traditional publishers, with two more coming out this year. 

 Q. Two of the books you have written have been collaborations with your brother. How did that come about?
  Fifteen years ago, I was sitting with my sister-in-law at their kitchen table, bemoaning how difficult men were. My brother (a psychiatrist) sauntered through and said, “Men are easy to understand. If you just know these five things, you can not only understand them, but learn to predict their behavior.” I said, “We should write a book!” 

Q. Is it harder to work with a family member, then perhaps working with someone you don't know as well? Pros and Cons?
Not for us.  Gary and I have been close since we were little kids, and this is actually our third business venture. When very young, we made and sold potholders. Gary was the biz guy and I was the cute little-girl front person! Then of course I’d ask him for change or something and he’d have to come out of his hiding place. Through our teenage years, we had a swim school. I’ve actually found it easier working with him than any of my other co-authors.  

Q. In reading this latest book, I had a hard time trying to discern which parts were written by you and which were written by your brother. Describe how the writing process worked.
 A couple of reasons exist why folks are having trouble discerning who wrote what.  First off, Gary dictated his theories, and I got a big sprawling amoeba of stuff to work with, mostly in jargon and clinical-ese.  I rewrote (and translated) everything he gave me, tossed away a ton when he rambled into the ozone, and identified huge holes that weren’t discussed at all, or glossed over, including adding chapters and organizing everything.  Gary actually writes very well, however, when I can get him out of psychiatrist mode, and he wrote his personal vignettes, and many of the others as well.  I did very little to those except clean up the grammar and spelling, etc.

The second part is a bit more nebulous.  I’ve co-authored enough that I learned a very long time ago to write in the other person’s voice.  It’s really weird (and somewhat schizophrenic!), but a gift of mine.  That truly helps me in editing as well—once I get into a manuscript, I edit in the other person’s voice. 

Q. Are there plans for more books together?
 Yes.  We have a list of ideas, and haven’t had time to narrow that down yet!

Q. Would you ever collaborate with anyone else?
 No.  That part of my life is done.  

Q. In addition to writing, you offer editing and coaching services. How do you balance your time between the various jobs?
 God alone knows!  I work a lot. More than I should. Sometimes I take the time to just write. Sometimes I write in the mornings and edit the rest of the day. Sometimes I just edit. 

Q. Now, just for fun, what is your family's favorite story to tell on you?
 Once my elementary-school friend and I climbed the big oak trees at the farm and hid, and when we were found we told this long tale about how the deer chased us up there and wouldn’t let us come down.  Everyone still calls that grove of oaks "Susan’s Trees". I started telling stories early J

Q.  What did it say about you in your high school yearbook?
 I honestly don’t remember! 

Q.  If you weren't a writer and editor, what job would you be doing?
 Investigative journalist. That was my original training, and I was editor of my university newspaper. I still miss it!

Book Blurb
Family.  We all have one.  And with the many gifts they bring, along come at least a few lumps of coal—from some friction to downright anger and dysfunction.What’s a healthy family anyway?  What’s a toxic one?  Where is the middle ground? And how do you navigate your own family relationships to negotiate conflict resolution? 

What’s Wrong With My Family explores the problems stemming from even the healthiest to the most destructive ones.  Most important, it teaches what issues within you may arise from your own family of origin, and how you can heal from the wounds.  A book of hope, it shows that no matter where you came from, you can live your best life anyway.  

Visit Susan on her Website  * Blog  *  Twitter  * Facebook 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

I'm happy to be part of a cover reveal for Laura Eno's upcoming book Jewel of Shaylar. This is a terrific cover and proves once again the importance of a truly great cover.

Here is a bit about the book:
Archaeologist David Alexander investigates the cave where his father disappeared and hurtles into another world, one filled with magic and bizarre creatures. The mad ravings in his father's journals of icemen and dragons may not be fantasies after all.
Convinced his father may still be alive, David begins a treacherous journey to find him and discover a way home. Along the way, he encounters a few unlikely friends. A Dreean warrior, a beautiful thief and a satyr join him as he searches.
David's arrival into this new world sets off an explosive chain reaction of events. Faced with powerful adversaries and few clues, he may not get the chance to rescue his father before disaster strikes, condemning both of them to death. Or worse.
 Find Laura on: Website - Blog - Facebook - Twitter - Goodreads
In Oscar news, "Argo" won best picture and Daniel Day-Lewis won his third Oscar for best-actor for his performance as Abraham Lincoln in  "Lincoln." The award for best actress went to Jennifer Lawrence for her performance as a young widower in "Silver Linings Playbook." Anne Hathaway won the supporting-actress Oscar win as a doomed mother-turned-prostitute in the musical "Les Miserables."

Christoph Waltz won his second supporting-actor Oscar  a genteel bounty hunter in "Django Unchained." Tarantino also won his second Oscar, for original screenplay for "Django."

In a big surprise Taiwanese director Ang Lee won the best-director trophy, when many people expected it to go to Steven Spielberg  for "Lincoln." Another neat surprise was when Michelle Obama appeared to be one of the presenters for the best-picture award.

Normally I try to see most of the films nominated for awards, but this year I was not able to. Looking forward to seeing them on DVD in the future. What about you? Did you see them? Agree with the awards?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Book Review - What's Wrong WIth My Family by Gary L. Malone MD and Susan Mary Malone

What's Wrong With My Family? And How to Live Your Best Life Anyway
Gary L. Malone & Susan Mary Malone
Paperback: 172 pages
Publisher: Authorlink (January 7, 2013)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1928704425
ISBN-13: 978-1928704423

This book opens with a quote from Viktor Frankl, from his wonderful book Man's Search for Meaning. "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms- to choose one's own attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way."

Showing people how to put that into practice is the main point of this book. As the product description says, we can't escape our families and the foibles that come with many people interrelating, so we have to find a way to live an emotionally healthy life despite the issues we bring from our past. "A book of hope, it shows that no matter where you come from, you can live your best life anyway."

The progression of the book is from introducing the varying levels of dysfunction in a family that can stem from parenting issues, difficulties with blended families, sibling rivalry, and in-laws, to finding normalcy. Each chapter ends with a "What you can use" section, which is a summation of the points made in the chapter with suggestions on how to put those points into action.

Even though the book is written by a mental health professional, Gary L. Malone, it is not heavily laden with wordage that makes a reader stop and say, "huh?" The language in the book is easily understood, lively, and very engaging.

I especially liked the fact that the authors used examples from literature to make a point. For example: "Each person must make it in the big water on his own. As Hemingway's fisherman thinks in The Old Man and the Sea; 'His choice had been to stay out in the deep dark water far out beyond all snares and traps and treacheries. My choice was to go there and find him.' The operative word here being choice. To live your best life, navigating the far seas must be an acceptable option in your own psyche."

There is also plenty of sound advice in how to make good choices. For instance, in the chapter on parenting, the authors promote finding a good balance between being a "Tiger Mom" and leaving a child on his own so much that it appears nobody cares whether he succeeds or not. The authors encourage this balance as well as boundaries; a child needs to be a child first, then an adult.

There is much to be learned from this book no matter your age or circumstance. Since we all come from families and have to deal with those pesky family issues that continue to influence us, we can find good advice within these pages.

Please come back on Wednesday when Susan will be my guest here. She will share a little bit about how this book came to be and what it is like to write with a sibling.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday's Odds and Ends

Kudos to the 89-year-old woman who has been broadcasting for blind listeners for seven years in North Texas. Adell Campbell has a general-interest program, The Eyes of North Texas, that has about 2,000  subscribers. The show,  which is broadcast twice a week, 9 a.m. on Monday and 11 a.m. on Saturday, is on North Texas Radio for the Blind, which is part of a local nonprofit Reading & Radio Resource.

The general programming at the station focuses on reading newspapers and magazines to the subscribers, but Adell likes to add some entertainment. She starts each show by reading a cartoon, usually one that pokes fun at politics. (I knew there was a reason I liked this lady.) Then she will often have a guest. 

She enjoys doing the shows and has no plans to stop any time soon, although she admits that her age is beginning to have an impact. In an interview with  Eden Stiffman in The Dallas Morning News she said, "Getting old is a very humbling process. And I'm not inclined to be humble." 

One of my favorite cartoon characters is Crankshaft from the strip written by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers. He's a curmudgeon, like my husband and I, and we both can relate to his world view. In a recent strip he is looking out the window at the bird feeder in his front yard. "The bird feeder is full of squirrels again," he says. "Maybe I'm going about this all wrong. If I put up a squirrel feeder, I wonder if only birds will come?"

In another strip, Crankshaft is shoveling snow and his neighbor looks over the fence. "Hey there Crankshaft," he says. "Snowy enough for you?"

The last panel shows the neighbor ducking a snow shovel that is flying through the air.

Finally, this from Dilbert. He is walking along the sidewald with Dogbert and says, "Studies show it takes ten thousand hours of practice to be great at anything."

To which Dogbert replies, "I would think a willingness to practice the same thing fro ten thousand hours is a mental disorder."

Dilbert says, "That makes me feel better about my mediocrity."

"You're welcome."

Literary Lessons:  This one is from Thornton Wilder, "You see, imaginative story telling consists of telling a number of lies in order to convey a truth; it is a rearrangement of falsehoods which, if it is done honestly, results in verity."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Fracturing Words

Today's Wednesday Guest, Slim Randles, brings us another glimpse into the lives of the crew down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. If you can figure out what some of the crazy words mean, let me know.  

If you are looking for some good e-books to read, check out the featured books at Julie Kenner's website.

For some good tips on writing dialogue head over to The Blood Red Pencil. Good discussion going on over there. But do come back and read this fun piece.

 When Windy walked into the Mule Barn during that cold snap last week, we knew he was getting frantic for an audience. He has a hard time getting us to listen to his version of history, his notions of what was going on now, and his prognostications of the future of mankind.

But it was cold, and sitting out on the bench and ambushing listeners didn’t work too well right now for Windy Wilson, so here he came. We gave each other the wink and dragged out a chair for him.

“What d’you know, Windy? Cold enough for ya?”

“Cold? You think this is cold? Why, one time up on the high line, I was disappropriating firewood for the crew on the railroad, and it come over me, then and there …”

“We weren’t talking about the cold this morning, Windy,” said Doc. “We were discussing the future of microbes.”

“Microbes? Ain’t they like choir robes? Why, this one time I was singing barleytone in the Presbytoolian church, and there was this guy named Mike all right, and …”

“Now Doc,” said Steve, twitching his walrus mustache, “Don’t you remember? We’d finished with the microbes and went sailing on into February. Sorry, Windy, Doc didn’t mean to disrupticate your dissemination of events, but he’d just forgot. It was February.”

“February? You mean like Leap Year kinda February paraphernalium where you only get olden on one day every four years? That kinda February?”

Dud and Herb were trying hard not to laugh.

“No, Alphonse,” Doc said. He sometimes got formal with our friend. “We were discussing whether or not to leave out the first r in February. No one uses it …”

“But just because something isn’t used,” Windy said, waving his empty coffee cup at Mavis, “doesn’t mean we have to completely immolify it, does it? If we occasionally sloop over the top of a letter, that doesn’t braggandize it. That doesn’t codify its lesserness, does it?”

“So you’re saying we should keep the first r in February, is that it?” asked Steve.

“Absotively,” said Windy.

“OK, now,” Doc said, “who will stand up for the h in school?”

Some people think we’re just having coffee each morning there in the truck stop.
Brought to you by The Backpocket Guide to Hunting Elk, an e-book. Read a sample at

Monday, February 18, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

If you enjoy the etymology of words, you might like to see how Debby Harris explains "fantasy" at The Blood Red Pencil. I did not know some of the connotations of that word.

A couple of weeks ago I read a story by Kathleen Parker about a woman from Burma, Zin Mar Aung who was placed in solitary confinement for trying to organize students in 1999. Zin Mar Aung is just one of four Burmese women who are visiting the U.S. this month for leadership training, sponsored by Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Women program, in partnership with the George W. Bush Institute, the McCain Institute and the Meridian International Center.

 For her 'crime' of publicly reading a collection of revolutionary poems, Zin Mar Aung was arrested and imprisoned. For eleven years she lived in 8-by-8-foot cell alone with nothing but a small water jug and a 'sink'for waste. Once a day, for 15-minutes, she was allowed to take a cold bath in a communal tub. She and the other female prisoners had no shoes and no access to personal hygiene necessities such as sanitary napkins.

Finally, after the eleven years of imprisonment, she was let go. She went back to school, earning a degree in botany, and is now in law school, majoring in international law. She established the Yangon School of Political Science and co-founded Rainfall, an organization that supports empowerment of women.

Zin Mar is working with three other women to stop the culture that suppresses women in so many parts of the world. Hla Hla Yee is a mother, an attorney and former political prisoner. She provides counseling to  marginalized women. Shunn Lei Swe Yee brings young people together to work for a more civil society. Ma Nilar OO worked for the International Red Cross for 18 years, primarily as an advocate for political prisoners.  Her more recent efforts have focused on  finding jobs for at-risk girls and young women. Female teens in Burma are often sold by their parents to men who value virgins. There is even a term in Burma for the breaking in of a virgin, “to open a new envelope.”

It is hard for those of us who live in a free society that has more equality between sexes to imagine what the lives of women must be like in these other cultures. Rape, assault, harassment, and the possibility of imprisonment are real fears that too many women live with every day. 

That is what Zin Mar and many other women are fighting to change. That is also why Zin Mar received the 1012 International Women of Courage Award from Michelle Obama and then Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in March.

I join them in saluting Zin Mar, and all the courageous women working for an end to the suppression of women.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Book Review - Shelter by Harlan Coben

Harlan Coben
Age Range: 12 and up
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (August 21, 2012)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0142422037
ISBN-13: 978-0142422038

First I have to say that I am a huge Coben fan, and have read almost all of his books and enjoyed them a lot. I have always liked Myron Bolitar as a character and was intrigued when I heard about this book featuring his nephew, Mickey Bolitar.

The book was written primarily for teens, but it is promoted for adult reading as well. The basic plot revolves around Mickey, a sophomore in high school, moving in with his uncle, Myron. This happens after Mickey's father is killed in an accident and his mother is put in drug rehab. Mickey and Myron have never gotten along, so Mickey lives in the basement of Myron's house, interacting with his uncle only when necessary.

At the new school, Mickey meets a girl, Ashley, and decides that maybe this new school will work out after all. Then Ashley mysteriously disappears, and Mickey is compelled to try to find out what happened to her. He discovers that Ashley is not who she said she was, and the investigation leads to danger and secrets from Mickey's father's past.

A nice premise, but it doesn't always work. There were several times when things happened that were unbelievable. At one point Mickey, who is over 6 feet tall, is hiding from bad guys behind some pillows. Ummm. Those had to be really big pillows. (smile) There were other places where no logic seemed to be applied to the plot, which was a surprise to me as Coben is normally so good at weaving an intricate, plausible story.

Mickey is an interesting character, and for the most part his dialogue fits a teen, as does the narration, but in other places it is too adult-sounding. Two supporting characters, Spoon and Ema, are nicely drawn and just quirky enough to pull the reader in. They are a bit of a cliche, but not enough to turn a reader away. One problem I found with the "voice" in the story is that there are times the narration reads as if Coben was in the mind of an adult. The book is written in first person, so everything should read like it is coming from a teen.

On the positive side, the interaction between Myron and Mickey reads well, as do the scenes between the teens. Coben is a master of good dialogue, and that is true in this story for the most part. The first half of the book was quite good, which is why I kept reading. It was toward the end that the plot line started to unravel.

As I said in the beginning, I normally love Coben's books, but this one was not his best effort. Perhaps he should stick to what he does best and leave the YA market to others.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Odds and Ends

This will be a short post, as I woke up not feeling well this morning. It is a cold, nasty day here in my part of the world, so I see hot tea and an afghan in my near future. Maybe not in a cup as pretty as that one. I'm more of a mug person. You can hold a mug close to you and keep warm with it.

Here is something to amuse from Mother Goose and Grimm:

Grimm is reading from a book, and Mother Goose is working with her computer. Grimm says, "See? Right here in this dog book, 'Dogs are owners' best friends.' We're loyal, faithful, devoted. The bond between dogs and owners can never be broken."

In the final panel, Grimm shouts, "So why did you unfriend me on Facebook?"

Literary Lesson from Shelter by Harlan Coben  "Evil exists. You can't have an up without a down, a right without a left - or good without evil."

So true.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Wednesday's Guest - Cupid

Since tomorrow is Valentine's Day, I thought we should visit a bit with Cupid today, if he is not too busy to answer a few questions. But before I flag him down, I want to let you know that my friend Slim Randles is sharing some of his thoughts on love and Valentine's Day over at The Blood Red Pencil. If you have a moment, hop over and see what love and fly fishing have in common.
Courtesty of Valentines Clip Art 

Hi, there Cupid. Can you stop just a minute so my readers can meet you?

Don't you know this is the worst day?

Sorry. I didn't know.

Well, I've got to fly all around the world and remind everybody that they need to get their candy and roses and diamonds for their sweethearts. You know those guys are always forgetting.

I don't think it's fair to single out the guys. Plenty of women forget, too.

Not as many as the men. Trust me. I've been doing this for centuries.

But you look so young.

Good genes.

Oh, I see. You know, I've always wondered.  Do you have a sweetheart?

Are you kidding. Who has time for their own love life when they are busy taking care of everyone else in the world.

The whole world? I thought maybe you had help. You know, a whole team of cupid assistants.

Nope. Just me, shooting arrows into every heart.

Wow, that's a lot of responsibility. I don't know how you manage it all.

Sometimes I don't know either. But a cupid's got to do what a cupid's got to do.   I'll tell you, though, I'm really ready for Valentine's Day to be over.

What are you going to do then?

I'm going to Disney World. 

Since I won't be posting tomorrow, let me wish everyone a Happy Valentine's Day just a bit early. Hope your day involves lots of chocolate. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Monday Morning Musings

Recently I read an interesting article in The Dallas Morning News written by Emily Esfahani Smith, an associate editor at The New Criterion, about happiness. We all know the importance of happiness in our lives. We strive for it every day, but happiness is not all we should be looking for.

In her article, Smith said that in addition to happiness, we should strive for meaning in our lives: That in the long run, meaning will help us over the difficult times more than happiness. To support her point, she cited the example of Viktor Frankl, a prominent psychiatrist in Vienna who was put in a Nazi concentration camp in 1942, along with his whole family.

Frankl survived the three years of imprisonment, and went on to write a book in 1946, Man's Search for Meaning. In the book, he outlines what he believed was the difference between those who survived and those who didn't, and that difference, in most cases, was "meaning." Frankl wrote, "A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the 'why' for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any 'how.'"

When I read Smith's article, it reminded me of what I learned when I studied to be a hospital chaplain. We learned that having a sense of being worthwhile is as important for humans to thrive as food and water and shelter. At the time I took the classes, that surprised me, as I had never thought anything was essential beyond the three basics.

However, as we explored the concept, it became clear that people are more content, and able to face life's challenges better when they feel significant, when their life has meaning. Finding meaning in life can take many forms. It might be as simple as being part of a loving relationship that is nurturing, not destructive, or having a job that brings as much satisfaction as income, and/or sharing time and talent helping others. It is something that feeds your spirit and makes you smile and say "ahhh" at the end of a busy day.

I wasn't surprised when I read Smith's article, and I join her in urging people to strive for meaning as much as happiness. Happiness can be fleeting, but meaning stays with us.

The important things in my life that feed my spirit are my family, my current gig as farmer, and my creative outlets.

What are some of yours?

By the way, Frankl's book is still in print. Well worth the read. 

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review - The Originals by Sarah Byrn Rickman

    The Originals: The Women's Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron of WW II
    Sarah Byrn Rickman
    Paperback: 412 pages
    Publisher: Disc-Us Books (June 2001)
    Language: English
    ISBN-10: 1584442646
    ISBN-13: 978-1584442646

    Back in March, 2010 I wrote a blog piece about an honor the WASPS - the Women Airforce Service Pilots of WW II - received many years after their actual service. I have had an interest in these ladies from the time a good friend, Marianne Verges, wrote her book, On Silver Wings, that chronicled some of the exploits of these amazing women who played such an important role in the war effort. The women were finally being recognized in a major way by receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.

    Marianne's book was published in 1995, and in it she focused on how the ladies came together to form the WASPS, then took them through the war and the years following. Those early women pilots were women of wealth as flying was a hobby only for the rich. Jacqueline Cochran, who was married to a millionaire tycoon, was the impetus behind recruiting the female pilots and convincing the military to use them.  By the early 1940s, almost 2000 women had earned their wings and became indispensable to the war effort, ferrying planes around the country. The WASP was disbanded in late 1944 and the personnel were denied military rank; this they were finally awarded in 1973. An inspiring tale of a winning fight against prejudice.

    In this latest book about these amazing women, The Originals, the author introduces the women one by one, giving the reader a lot of biographical detail leading up to the momentous moment when they joined other female pilots in the WASPS. It was nice to get to know more about each of these women and their lives before the WASPS formed. Then the documentation of the achievements of these women pilots showcased the courage and spit that they brought to their missions. It is all written in a style that is engaging and easy to read. There are also lots of pictures that help tell the story of the women and what they accomplished.

    In visiting Ms. Rickman's website, I noted that she  serves as the editor of the WASP News, published twice a year by Texas Woman’s University (TWU) in Denton, the home of the official WASP Archives. Since 2003, she has been a WASP oral historian for TWU, recording many of these ladies’ stories on audiotape.

    For anyone who is interested in reading about some of the strongest women in our history, I highly recommend both books. They complement each other nicely.

    Friday, February 08, 2013

    Friday Odds and Ends

    Today I am also blogging over at the Venture Galleries blog. Interested in what makes a criminal's mind different from ours?

    Heard on the news the other day that Saturday mail deliveries will be discontinued starting in August. The media is all over this in a big way already, from national news shows to local. Some people sure are hot about the topic, with some predicting dire consequences, like senior citizens dying because they can't get medications delivered that day. 

    Granted, timely medication deliveries could be an issue, but instead of ranting about it, why not just step back a moment, take a deep breath, and figure out a way for medications to be delivered Monday through Friday. It could happen.

    Concern over business mail that would be delayed was also voiced. Bills might be paid late. Hmmm, maybe we could plan to handle that differently, too.

    Just think, years ago, we didn't have Saturday deliveries, and we all did just fine. Even more years ago mail deliveries were on a weekly, or monthly basis, and everyone did just fine.

    We will survive this latest deprivation. Trust me.

    Raise your hand if you can relate to this from Sherman's Lagoon: Megan is tending to a potted plant and Sherman asks, "So Megan, you're also entering this tropical plant contest?"

    "As a matter of fact, yes."

    "When did this come about?"

    She gives him one of those looks. You know the one I mean. "I've entered it every year since you've known me!"

    "And yet this is the first time I'm hearing about it?"

    "I discuss it every year."

    "While I'm paying attention? You know, during comercials?"


    This Literary Lesson is from The Weeping Chamber by Sigmund Brouwer   "… the distance between us makes my heart ache with sentiment, and it is easier to be weak for you when you cannot see how I tremble."

    Sometimes emotions are easier to handle with some distance between us.

    Wednesday, February 06, 2013

    Wednesday's Guest - A Surprise

    While I was taking my walk this morning, one of my characters, Samantha Rutgers from Play it Again, Sam, started talking to me. She insisted she wanted the floor, so to speak, so here she is to share some thoughts with you. I figured if I let her have this space, she would then hush and let Sarah and Angel talk to me. It's their book I need to be writing now.

    While Maryann did a pretty decent job telling my story in fiction.

    Um, excuse me?

    Okay, maybe a bit better than decent. Satisfied, Maryann?

    Now where was I? Oh, right. I just realized that Maryann has never shared much about the story behind the story. Play it Again, Sam is fiction, but it was inspired by a true story, and, boy, did Maryann ever make me relate to that poor lady who had to hear her husband say he didn't love her any more.

    Can you imagine what a kick in the gut that can be?

    Unfortunately, there are a lot of people out there who are getting kicked, men as well as women. Their spouses decide for some reason or another that they would be happier with someone else.

    The problem with that thinking is that we shouldn't be counting on others to make us happy.  It is ultimately up to us to decide that we will be satisfied with our lives.

    That's a hard concept to live. Sometimes we just want to be a child again and have a mommy come and fix what is wrong and put a band-aid on our emotional sores. It takes a lot of courage to grow past that childhood impulse and charge through whatever adversity comes our way.

    In my story, I have as much growing up to do as my fictional daughter, Melissa. I relied too much on my husband and our life together to give me happiness and satisfaction, and I had to go out and find it for myself.  It wasn't easy, but I did it, and I can be proud of that.

    I am also proud to be patterned after a strong lady who did the same. Authors make happy-ever-after happen in fiction, we make it happen in real life.

    For another week Play It Again, Sam, is featured in a special sale at Untreed Reads. It is just one of a number of romance novels available for a 30% discount through February 14. Click on the title link to take advantage of the sale. To see all the novels offered by Untreed Reads, click on their link.

    If you take advantage of the sale, I hope you will let Maryann know. She will tell me.

    Thanks for listening... er, reading.

    Monday, February 04, 2013

    Monday Morning Musing

    So what was your favorite Super Bowl commercial? Which one(s) would you give a thumbs down to? For me, some were easy to dislike, like the GoDaddy one that had the couple kissing. Sorry, GoDaddy, I like your site, but that commercial was awful.

    I liked the Doritos ad that featured the man and the goat. Maybe I related because I have a goat, and I could see her plotting to kill me if I stopped giving her treats. But the commercial that I loved was the Dodge Ram commercial celebrating farmers, narrated by the late Paul Harvey. I know that one resonated with me because I play at farming here on my little piece of East Texas, but I have also loved and respected farmers my whole life. They are in my family and my circle of friends. The ad told of all the reasons "God made a farmer," and it was very poignant.

    Inspired by the commercial, I went out and planted potatoes and peas in my garden this morning.

    I'm not even going to join the debate about the half-time show, as I did not watch it. I don't care for that style of music, so I cleaned up my kitchen while the show was on. This morning I discovered that there has been some backlash from folks who did not think the show was family-friendly. Well, not much in our pop culture is anymore.

    Oops, I just joined the debate. Sorry.

    On another note, my publisher for Play It Again, Sam, Uncial Press, has partnered with Untreed Reads for a special sale event, offering books for a 30% discount through February 14. Click on the title link to take advantage of the sale. To see all the novels offered by Untreed Reads, click on their link. 

    BLURB: Life as she knows it ceases to exist for Samantha Rutgers when her husband of twenty-plus years decides he no longer loves her. The challenges are myriad. Can she build a life without him? Will her daughter always blame her? Can she ever trust a man again?
        And what is she going to do about sex?

    Sunday, February 03, 2013

    Book Review - Sticks and Stones by K.J. Larson

    Thanks to Carl Brookins for sharing another review. 

    Sticks & Stones                     
    By K.J. Larson
    ISBN: 978-1-59058-921-2
    2012 Poisoned Pen HC
    229 pages

    This is one triple threat novel. It is fast. It is raunchy. It is punchy. Bonus is it’s written by three sisters. Yes, the title refers to that old nursery rhyme. Second in the Cat De Luca series, the novel continues the adventures of a smart, sassy, saucy, Chicago P.I. Her agency is called “Pants on Fire.” She’s a member of a large and useful if somewhat un-functional family of Italian Chicago cops. Their attitudes and sometimes mis-guided attempts to aid or thwart De Luca’s usually spur-of-the-moment actions in pursuit of her current cheating husband-target add a good deal to the general hilarity.

     The novel surges back and forth and up and down, in and out of second story windows and costumes. It never loses sight of the main goal and for the most part, is well-written with excellent pace. Disregard a few sags in the middle in which peripheral characters heat up the pages with drink and dalliance.

    With tongue firmly planted, Cat De Luca, in the capable hands of her grinning authors, sashays through the urban landscape to an inescapable conclusion. A fine American cozy novel and I look forward to a long run with leggy De Luca.

    Carl Brookins  BLOG:  -BOOKS:  Case of the Great Train Robbery, Reunion, Red Sky

    Friday, February 01, 2013

    Friday's Odds and Ends

    The media has coined another new phrase - Whiplash Weather - referring to the extreme changes in temperature and weather conditions that the upper midwest and the east have been experiencing recently. Obviously those journalists have not been in Texas very often for long periods of time. There has been an expression here - if you don't like the weather, just wait a day - for as long as I have lived here, and that has been over forty years.

    It is not unusual at all to have temperatures in the 60s one day and snow the next.

    Granted, our weather and climate changes have been wonky for some time now, and only a few people are still convinced we aren't experiencing climate change due to global warming. I just find it ironic that so many people don't recognize a serious issue until the media puts some kind of label on it.

    Now for some fun with the comics. This from Baby Blues I can so relate to. Wanda is in bed sleeping and Hammie comes in and taps her on the shoulder until she wakes up. "Hammie, what's wrong?"

    "Nothing. But as log as you're up, will you get me a drink of water?"

    And here's another good one from Wiley's Dictionary at B.C. The definition of "babbling brook."

    "What Brook becomes after her second glass of wine."

    Literary Lessons:  This is from The Weeping Chamber by Sigmund Brouwer  "A man is a fool if he thinks he rules his own house."