On Thursday, July 16, writers around the world were inspired by NaNoInspiredDay. On that day, writers encouraged each other by posting words, quotes and actions meant to inspire: to inspire words, to inspire the completion of works, to inspire turning on the computer or picking up the pen, to inspire the prioritization of writing, etc. I found the inspired postings on Twitter and Facebook did just what they were intended to do–inspire. I was inspired to honor a truth concerning a short story I had been struggling with. I was inspired to write more words. I personally did not post anything on Thursday, but I am today. A friend sent me the link below and I am sharing it with you in an effort to keep the inspiration going. Click on the link and after you’ve read the 25 quotes, let me know the ones that move you. The ones that moved me? #2, #3, #9, #13, #16 and #25. Be inspired! Happy writing!
Back in the ‘90s, author Evelyn Palfrey started a new thing. She wrote romance stories with lead characters who were “marvelously mature;” a term she crafted to describe her sheros and heros–adults in their fifties and sixties; some retired, some not; some with children who were “grown and gone,” some who were raising grandchildren, but all confronting love in their latter years, which made for plots that were unfathomable in the more traditional romance stories.
I read every one of Evelyn’s books and enjoyed them thoroughly. This spring when I learned she had a new release, I jumped online and downloaded my copy of Going Home. Like her other books, I devoured each page and when I reached the end, I was not happy about saying good-bye to the characters. I don’t write and post book reviews on every book I read but this one – yes. Because I want readers to learn about and read Evelyn’s works (if they haven’t already). And as we all know, in this cyber literary world, book reviews are important.
My brief comments about Going Home follow and if you want more information about Evelyn or her other works, click here.
Going Home is a contemporary romance story set in Austin, Texas. The heroine, retired office worker, Thalia Allen specializes in taking in orphans—her granddaughter Mishay and a father/son combo, Joe Lambert and Kyobe, who ended up in Austin after Hurricane Katrina ran them out of New Orleans.
The story opens with a snapshot of Thalia and Mishay in their routine home/school/church/life activities; a routine that quickly alters when Thalia allows Joe and Kyobe to move into her home. Thus starts a slow, respectful buildup to romance and love between the adults while the two teenagers struggle with their own teenage issues: school work, peer pressure, cliques, dating, violence, college, etc. Encapsulating all four story lines is the natural evolution into a family unit; an outcome that makes them all emotionally stronger, secure and happy. Just as the family is strengthening and everyone is settling into their natural place, Joe blows the family apart with an announcement: he is returning to New Orleans to resume his life there. It’s a heartbreaker for Kyobe and Mishay, but especially for Thalia who has given Joe her heart and has come to rely on him. Joe moves back home and is in New Orleans for several months before he comes to the realization that his life, his happiness, his heart is not in New Orleans, but in Austin. Acknowledging this, he returns to Austin to immediate acceptance by everyone except Thalia. She maintains a hard line with him until he proves he’s there for good by asking her to be his wife. They reunite, the family reunites, and they all live forever in love.
Like most romance stories, this is not action-driven but character-driven. We see a satisfying arch of the major characters, including the teenagers. By the end of the story they are more expansive, changed and for the better. The storyline follows a logical line of progression with plot twists in appropriate places, valid emotional ups and downs, and realistic behavior. The settings and descriptions enhance the story and the pacing is appropriate for a romance story. Of course the ending worked. It is after all a romance and the boy always gets the girl.
A plus I think readers will enjoy is the cast of characters. There was enough diversity—from thievin’ thug to sassy, low self-esteem teen to independent contractor to retiree—to make me wonder how Thalia was going to make a family of this rag-tag bunch. I should have known love conquers all.
The one hole in the story was the missing conversation between grandmother and granddaughter regarding her sexual status after being on the road with a hormone-driven young male. I also did not care for so many church scenes but that’s just me and my personal reading preference.
I believe readers will enjoy this story. It is an intelligent read that can easily jump off fiction pages to represent real life.
I took a breather from handling my mom’s medical appointments, traveling, marketing the new book and making a major technology transition and realized the summer solstice had come.
And me with no summer reading list.
I looked up from painting my house, writing book reviews, crying about human losses, bemoaning all the rain, and making beautiful memories with my four-year-old nephew and realized summer had arrived.
And me with no summer reading list.
I paused from texting friends, making friends, losing friends and hanging with friends to say “good-bye June; hello July.”
And me with no summer reading list.
So dear readers, I have no choice but to lean on you. Would you kindly suggest a book or two? Good summer reads that will keep me company until the fall. Books I can read on the coast, on a plane, at coffee or lunch, in the office or at the park. Stories I can fall into and linger at the end. Tales I can, in turn, pay it forward and share with friends.
For your very generous reply, I promise to pray a fun, relaxing, book-filled summer for you and yours.
And now me, with a summer reading list!
I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase, “I didn’t choose it, it chose me.” That phrase applies to me and paranormal writing. I grew up reading romance novels—the old school romances with covers that depicted revealing bodices for heroines and exposed chests for heroes. Fast forward to adulthood and my love for reading romance novels continued. So it was quite natural that when I decided to become a novelist, I turned to the romance genre. I wrote three romances and then something unexpected happened…my next love story went dark. Yikes! What happened? I’m trucking along writing about love and eternal bliss and then a stalker, death and violence inserts itself into one of my stories. That story introduced a change.
Oh, I still believed in love, happiness, and all that sugar and spice stuff, but those dark elements forced me to acknowledge the influence that murder mysteries, thrillers, horror and science fiction had had on me as well. I had read just as many Stephen King, Edgar Allan Poe, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle books as I had romance novels, and that horror/thriller/mystery genre had risen up, demanding to be represented.
So in 1999, I shelved the romance stories I had been developing and turned to paranormal writing. Well not completely. I decided I would write a paranormal then write a romance; write a paranormal, then write a romance. A rotation, you see, but my intuitive creative self said, “no, no, no,” and to prove it meant what it said I started having personal encounters (yes, plural) with spirits. I had my first run-in in 2000 with a spirit. Then in 2011, I had my second spiritual visit and since then I have seen an angel and have been visited by a deceased relative. Needless to say, many of my writings are now devoted to the paranormal genre. Such as my most recent book titled, Lyrical Darkness. I am honored to be one of ten paranormal writers featured in this collection of short stories that are based on dark song lyrics.
I’m curious about you though. What has chosen you? Have you been chosen to take your writing more seriously and work toward publication? Have you received the call to join a book club? Have you felt the urge to sculpt, draw, paint? Maybe thoughts about pursuing a voiceover, design or music career? If so, have you answered the call or turned your back to it? If it chose you and you’re being stubborn, let me reiterate that there’s no escape. Make it easy on yourself and go with it. And always remember, it chose you; hence, all the support you’ll ever need is yours just by asking.
Honor the choosing!
I am so excited!!!
Today, Lyrical Darkness, an anthology of short stories based on songs which have dark lyrics, is available for pre-order. I’ve had other book releases (2014 – Voices from the Block & 2013 – Fuller’s Curse) so why am I even more excited about this book? Because Lyrical Darkness is my first attempt to create a story from a song.
When Donnie Light, the publisher of Lyrical Darkness contacted me about participating in this anthology, I of course said yes, yes, yes, but I was very nervous. I had never created a story from a song before. My previous stories were all culled from life experiences, inspiration and imagination; they were never so intentional.
To make it easier for us, Donnie allowed us to select our own song and he put a 10,000 word limit on the stories. The ten contributing authors, all paranormal writers, scurried to find the right dark song that would generate 10,000 words, a plot and characters. And our work continued at a feverish pace through the holidays to meet the February 2015 deadline.
Below is the cover for Lyrical Darkness. Beyond this inviting cover are eleven dark short stories based on disturbing song lyrics; samples of which include “Angie Baby,” “Hotel California,” “Smooth Criminal,” and “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” (this is the song I chose, click here to listen). I am proud to be a part of this collection and I hope you will read our take on these songs. May I suggest a visit to YouTube before or after reading so you can compare the story to the song?
You can order the ebook today and the print/paperback version will be available June 15th.
Thanks for being part of this journey with me and oh, by the way, happy Black Music Month (June)!
The Washington Post hosted its annual Mensa Invitational, a contest that invites readers to take any word from the dictionary, alter it (by adding, subtracting or changing one letter) and then supply a new definition. I got a kick out of the creative words and definitions the contest generated. At one point, I was laughing so loud and so hard that I had to stop reading to catch my breath and wipe tears from my eyes. I hope you enjoy these winning entries as much as I did.
1. Cashtration (n.): The act of buying a house, which renders the subject financially impotent for an indefinite period of time.
2. Ignoranus: A person who’s both stupid and an asshole.
3. Intaxicaton: Euphoria at getting a tax refund, which lasts until you realize it was your money to start with.
4. Reintarnation: Coming back to life as a hillbilly.
5. Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
6. Foreploy: Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid
7. Giraffiti: Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
8. Sarchasm: The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn’t get it.
9. Inoculatte: To take coffee intravenously when you are running late.
10. Osteopornosis: A degenerate disease. (This one got extra credit)
11. Karmageddon: It’s like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it’s like, a serious bummer.
12. Decafalon (n):The grueling event of getting through the day consuming only things that are good for you.
13. Glibido: All talk and no action.
14. Dopeler Effect: The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.
15. Arachnoleptic Fit (n.): The frantic dance performed just after you’ve accidentally walked through a spider web.
16. Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito, that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
17. Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a worm in the fruit you’re eating.
Oh, but wait, there’s more. A second word contest sponsored by the Washington Post asked readers to supply alternate meanings for common words. This word list is just as entertaining. Enjoy!
1. Coffee, n. The person upon whom one coughs.
2. Flabbergasted, adj. Appalled by discovering how much weight one has gained.
3. Abdicate, v. To give up all hope of ever having a flat stomach.
4. Esplanade, v. To attempt an explanation while drunk.
5. Willy-nilly, adj. Impotent.
6. Negligent, adj. Absent mindedly answering the door when wearing only a nightgown.
7. Lymph, v. To walk with a lisp.
8. Gargoyle, n. Olive-flavored mouthwash.
9. Flatulence, n. Emergency vehicle that picks up someone who has been run over by a steamroller.
10. Balderdash, n. A rapidly receding hairline.
11. Testicle, n. A humorous question on an exam.
12. Rectitude, n. The formal, dignified bearing adopted by proctologists.
13. Pokemon, n. A Rastafarian proctologist.
14. Oyster, n. A person who sprinkles his conversation with Yiddishisms.
15. Frisbeetarianism, n. The belief that, after death, the soul flies up onto the roof and gets stuck there.
16. Circumvent, n. An opening in the front of boxer shorts worn by Jewish men.
In 2008, author Dan Buettner introduced the world to the Blue Zones, five pockets of civilization where people live for really long times, longer than most.
The Blue Zones are:
Loma Linda, California
and Nicoya, Costa Rica
In Buettner’s research, which was facilitated by National Geographic, he sought reasons why people in these areas live up to ten times longer than people elsewhere. Out of that research he came up with the “Power of 9,” nine characteristics these communities share that lead them to live long, healthy lives.
I looked up the Power of 9 because I had a scare recently, two scares really. A cousin was rushed to emergency and was told her kidneys were only operating at 10%. She is now on dialysis. And, I was recently told that my kidneys were trying to lock on me. I was drinking water but not nearly enough and I was ingesting too much sugar. My body was not happy about this neglect.
So now I am drinking more water and ignoring the siren call of ice cream, but with these improvements I was curious about what else I could do to improve my longevity and health. After all, I have many more books to write and many more stories to tell so I need to live as long as possible. Additionally, as a writer, I need the use of my hands, the creativity of my mind, the connectivity of my soul to Spirit to carry out my life’s work. So I perused the Power of 9 and you can too. Just click on the link below or keep reading.
POWER OF 9
1. Create an environment where you move without having to think about or plan for it.
2. Know your purpose. Know why you get out of bed every day.
3. Shed stress as much as possible.
4. Control your eating.
5. Eat healthy: beans, fruit, less meat, avoid processed food, drink water.
6. Wine is fine. Drinkers outlive non-drinkers when the drinking is done socially. (I promise I didn’t make this one up.)
7. Faith-based living, attending faith services (regardless of denomination) is crucial.
8. Family first; keep grandparents, grandchildren, other loved ones near.
9. Surround yourself with people who promote healthy behaviors.