Book Review – The Inside Passage by Carl Brookins

Posted by Maryann on October 23, 2016 |

insidepassageThe Inside Passage

Carl Brookins
File Size: 2587 KB
Print Length: 252 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publisher: Brookins Books (February 4, 2014)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English


The Inside Passage is an adventure thriller set primarily on the waters between Campbell River, British Columbia, and Seattle, Washington. It is the story of one man’s successful effort to find justice and peace after the murder of his wife and her friend by ruthless gun runners. It offers moving descriptions of magnificent mountain scenery and the sea, storms, explosive action, murder, loss, love, and redemption.


Michael Tanner, a successful business man who owns a public relations firm, had no intention of becoming an investigator. It is only after the fateful event that killed his wife Beth and a friend, Alice George. They had taken a sailing vessel, the Queen Anne,  up the waterway between Puget Sound and the northern end of Vancouver Island along the western edge of British Columbia. It was to be just a few days of peaceful sailing but it ends in tragedy when a large white boat deliberately rams the small sailboat. Tanner is the only survivor.

Authorities do not believe him about the other boat, and he is on his own to discover who was on that boat and why they rammed his.

It is obvious that the author is well-versed in sailing experience, and the scenes on the boats were written with that expertise very evident. Still, the sailing jargon was very understandable to those of us who have done nothing more than sail a paper boat in a rain puddle. I especially liked the tension in a scene where Tanner is trying to get to a safe harbor in a storm, and the drama was never lost in sailing terminology.

While some of the narrative was well-done and interesting, there were places where I thought too much detail was given that slowed the pace of the story.

Still, it is a good sea adventure, and Tanner is a likable character. He is a much different man at the end of the story than he was at the beginning. No longer drowning in grief and guilt, but standing strong and capable. It will be interesting to see what comes next for him.


Before he became a mystery writer and reviewer, Carl Brookins was a counselor and faculty member at Metropolitan State University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Brookins and his wife are avid recreational sailors. He is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.

He writes the sailing adventure series featuring Michael Tanner and Mary Whitney. The third novel is Old Silver. His new private investigator series features Sean NMI Sean, a short P.I. The first is titled The Case of the Greedy Lawyers. Brookins received a liberal arts degree from the University of Minnesota and studied for a MA in Communications at Michigan State University.

Find out more about Carl on his WEBSITE an follow him on FACEBOOK


Brookins is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Private Eye Writers of America. He can frequently be found touring bookstores and libraries with his companions-in-crime, The Minnesota Crime Wave.


Do come back on Wednesday, when Carl will be my Wednesday’s Guest. His post reveals how he discovers characters that are like old friends. 

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Friday Odds and Ends

Posted by Maryann on October 21, 2016 |

First your Friday fun meme.


Courtesy of We Know Memes.com

Now some exciting news. I have finally finished the romance novella I’ve been working on for months. “And why did it take so long to write a novella?” you might ask.

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you know that I have been plagued with severe head and eye pain from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome that has limited my writing time. Not to mention my reading time, and reading is just as important as writing. This has gone on since January, and most of the winter I could not write at all. It has only been the last few months that I can spend more than an hour a day at the computer. Now, some days I can do three to four hours if I space it out.

So that is why it took months and months to write a novella, and you can imagine the thrill it was for me when I finished One Perfect Love, the sequel to One Small Victory, a few weeks ago and sent it off to be edited. I hired a graphic artist to do a cover, got the edited manuscript back, and put the book up on Amazon for Kindle. It will release November 8, and is available for PRE-ORDER now at the discount price of just 99 cents. After release the price will go up to $1.99.

Here is the terrific cover.


And here is an excerpt:

Jenny knelt in front of the small headstone, reaching out with one finger to lightly trace the inscription — Michael Jasik 1996 – 2014 – Beloved Son. It had been two years since the funeral, but there were times she forgot it wasn’t just yesterday. Those were days when the grief snuck up behind her and then slammed her in the gut like a battering ram. Those were the days when she was a total wreck. Unable to work. Unable to do much of anything except maybe breathe.

And even that was a challenge.

She didn’t know why she kept coming here. She knew Michael wasn’t here. At least not in spirit. According to the preachers of her childhood, Michael was either in heaven or hell. There was no in between with those men who spoke of a God who would rain fire and brimstone down upon the sinners of this world. Jenny always had a hard time relating to a God like that. Perhaps that’s why she stopped going to church as soon as she could move away from home and escape the mandate that “you will go to church as long as you live in my house.”

Even though she never acknowledged it, a small part of her did know exactly why she came here so often. Besides the officers at the Little Oak police department, Michael was the only one who knew that Jenny had shot a man two years ago.

Her grief was split between the loss of a son and the loss of a piece of herself.

She could share that with Michael.

She had also been able to share that with Steve. Warm, wonderful, wise Steve who had been the first man since Ralph that she had even considered as someone who could be a permanent fixture in her life. The chemistry was there. They both recognized it as they worked together on that drug task force. Then, it had been professional boundaries that kept them on either side of a distinct line. Afterward, they had tried to build something, but they both just found it too hard to try to be normal, when nothing was normal in either of their lives. So she had gone back to being a single woman without a relationship.

Most days, that was tolerable. She had her kids. And her friends. And her work. And her wonderful business partner. But it had been a long time since she had a companion, in bed and otherwise. That one person you would call first with good news, or bad, who was not your girlfriend. And someone to snuggle against in bed on cold winter nights.

A cool October breeze brushed across her face, drying the tears that had run down her cheeks in a great warm river. This was a safe place to let the tears pour out. She couldn’t do that at home in front of her other kids. They were dealing with mountains of grief in their own way. She knew that, and if they still cried, they hid it well. Not like the first year when tears cluttered the house like old newspapers and magazines that should have been thrown out months ago. The crying couldn’t continue indefinitely. She realized that, so she had started hiding her tears, trying to establish a different kind of normal that didn’t include losing emotional control at odd moments in time.

Until remnants of a white powdery substance had been found at the scene of the accident that had claimed her son’s life, she’d had no idea that the use of cocaine was so prevalent in the town. She was too busy raising three kids by herself and trying to run a business. Then the accident. Then the awareness. Then the task force. She still couldn’t believe she’d done it. When she’d joined the task force, she was numb with grief and not thinking well at all, a fact of which her mother and her best friend kept reminding her. But she’d persevered, passed the physical and helped bring down the main drug supplier for North Texas.

That’s all for today, folks. I have a busy weekend ahead of me. First an art fair where I will set up to see if folks would like autographed books for people on their holiday gift list, then Sunday visiting family all day. What are you up to this weekend?

Have you entered the Fabulous Fall Giveaway Contest? $400 worth of Amazon Giftcards are being awarded to several lucky winners. The contest ends October 24th, so don’t forget. ENTER HERE

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A Visit With Jesus

Posted by Maryann on October 19, 2016 |

Today, author João Cerqueira is here to interview our special Wednesday’s Guest, Jesus. What an honor! Last Sunday I reviewed João’s book, Jesus And Magdalene, and you might want to check it out after you read the interview. It is quite an interesting book.

In trying to decide what to offer as refreshments, I first thought of loaves and fishes. Then maybe wine. Jesus did like wine in his first appearance on earth. However, in light of the fact that Jesus is here in the 21st century, I thought He might like to try a latte. You can have one, too, if you’d like.



And now, here is the interview. Enjoy….

João – How did you find the world after your second coming?

Jesus – In some things, like technology and human rights, humanity has progressed a lot and that makes me happy. But in others, such as intolerance and violence, nothing has changed. I found a group of ecologists that seemed to have good intentions, but they were willing to use violent methods in the fight for their cause. I found myself involved in a dispute over the construction of a resort in a protected forest and the result was disastrous. Finally, I tried to avoid a racial conflict, but in the end all hell broke loose.

João – And why did you get involved in these disputes?

Jesus – Well, I met a very beautiful girl full of good intentions, Magdalene, and I let myself go…

João –But she didn’t recognize you?

Jesus – How could she recognize me, if I am a man like any other?

João – Why didn’t you identify yourself?

Jesus – Men have difficulty in changing their ideas. People will only be truly honest with us if they do not know who we are. Preconceived ideas, although favorable, distorts the perception of reality.

João – However, someone did identify you.

Jesus – Yes, it was Professor Kacimba, an excellent person, a true Samaritan…

João – A con man who deceived poor people…

Jesus – That is prejudiced. Writers think they are above it, but do not escape this human characteristic.

João – I didn’t know you were also a literary critic…

Jesus – All of the histories that writers invent were already told in the Bible. Passion, betrayals, kidnappings, crimes, monsters, destruction of cities…

João – Let us return to Magdalene. She says there is an ecological message in the Christian religion. Do you want to comment on that?

Jesus – She is right. The Bible appeals to the respect for plants and animals. San Francis of Assisi was the first environmentalist. And I make reference to animals as an example for men. Who is not good for the animals, also won’t be good for the people.

João – So, we must love all creatures? Even viruses and bacteria?

Jesus – Well, to be honest I don’t like cockroaches very much.

João – And I hate mosquitoes.

Jesus – Me, too, but please don’t tell anyone about it…

João – Sure. But why didn’t you have a cat or a dog?

Jesus -It takes time to care for an animal. As you know, I was always too busy…

João – Magdalene could have taken care of them.

Jesus – And you? Do you have any animals?

João – I have two dogs and four cats, but one is missing.

Jesus – So, you are not a responsible pet owner?

João – I gave them freedom, they go where they want and then I wash my hands.

Jesus – What is this? An interview or a trial? Are you an admirer of Pilate?

João – I am an admirer of you.

(Jesus takes a deep breath.)

Jesus – Well, if people like you admire me, I suppose there is hope for humankind.

João – One last question: did you fall in love with her?

Jesus – I am in love with all human beings. Go find the cat.


Jesus returns to earth.
After meeting activist Magdalene, who is fighting for a better world, he becomes embroiled in three problematic situations.
He meets an extremist ecological group, which is plotting to destroy a maize plantation it believes to be genetically modified. Then, he observes the rise up against a tourist development that is to be built in a forest reserve. Finally, he witnesses an armed conflict between blacks and gypsies.
Using irony and satire, the Second Coming of Jesus to Earth broaches recent phenomena of social and political conflict.



João Cerqueira has a PhD in History of Art from the University of Oporto. He is the author of eight books. Blame it on too much freedom, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Devil’s Observations, Maria Pia: Queen and Woman, José de Guimarães (published in China by the Today Art Museum), José de Guimarães: Public Art.

The Tragedy of Fidel Castro won the USA Best Book Awards 2013, the Beverly Hills Book Awards 2014, the Global Ebook Awards 2014, was finalist for the Montaigne Medal 2014 (Eric Offer Awards) and for The Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2014 and  was considered by ForewordReviews the third best translation published in 2012 in the United States.

The second coming of Jesus (A segunda vinda de Cristo à Terra) won the silver medal in the 2015 Latino Book Award and was considered by the unheard-voice.blogspot one of the best books published in 2015.

See all of João Cerqueira’s books at his Amazon Author Page

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by Maryann on October 17, 2016 |

Those of you who have read my books know that I often write about social issues, drugs and violence and racism. I explored aspects of racism, especially as it applies to the interactions of police officers with people of color in my Seasons Mystery Series that debuted with Open Season.


However, I barely scratched the surface of what it means to be on either side of that color line and try to be safe, let alone relate.

In her latest book, Small Great Things, Jodi Picoult does that admirably.


Jodi has a reputation for writing books about difficult situations and experiences and in her author’s notes for  Small Great Things she shares what prompts her to write about difficult topics.

It is an attempt to shed light on things that some people have never experienced to help them become aware.

Twenty years passed  from the time Jodi first thought of writing about racism to pen this wonderful book. Thinking about why it took so long and why she found writing a book about racism so different from those other books, she shared,  “Because race is different. Racism is different. It’s fraud and it’s hard to discuss, and so as a result we often don’t.”

Jodi did extensive research in putting this story together, talking to many people of color to find out what it is like to be black and the differences between being black and being white – differences that go so deep that most of us on the white side of that line don’t even stop to think about them.

Things like the fact that we can go into a store and not have a sales person trail us because we might be a potential shoplifter. The fact that should we ever be arrested for a crime, we will probably not face the indignity of being thrown on the floor and handcuffed. Our houses won’t be routinely ransacked by police, nor would we probably face the danger of being shot on the spot just because of the color of our skin and the fear ingrained in the officer on the other side of that gun.

In the author note, Jodi writes that she expects that there could be push back from the book. She might have people of color challenge her for writing about something that they don’t think she has no right to write about. She will probably have white people challenge her for calling them out on their racism. But she concludes by saying,

“Believe me I didn’t write this novel because I thought it would be fun or easy. I wrote it because I believed it was the right thing to do and because the things that make us most uncomfortable are the things that teach us what we all need to know. As Roxana Robinson said,  ‘A writer is like a tuning fork: we respond when were struck by something. If we’re lucky, we’ll transmit a strong, pure note, one that isn’t ours but which passes through us.'”

In the final paragraph of the author note Jodi writes,

There is a fire raging, and we have two choices: we can’t turn our backs, or we can try to fight it. Yes, talking about racism is hard to do, and yes, we stumble over the words – but we who are white need to have this discussion among ourselves. Because then, even more of us will overhear, and then – I hope – the conversation will spread.

I agree with Jodi. There is a fire raging. We see it every time a person of color is killed by police who react too quickly. We see it every time a city is looted and burned after such an incident. We see it every time a police officer is shot by a sniper.

There is no way to condone any of those acts. They are all inappropriate responses. But we most certainly have to find a way to do something about the underlying causes of those actions, or we are destined to repeat and repeat and repeat until….? I don’t know.

One of the things that Jodi challenges us to think about is our own racism. Like so many others, I was proud to always say I wasn’t racist. I have lots of Black friends. I believe in equality. I don’t see color.

But Jodi says we should see color. We should see it and respect it and understand it.

When I saw that message in her book, I thought of Mr. Charles. An elderly Black man I knew in Omaha years ago. He was my neighbor, a retired minister, and a very nice man. He once told me that he could not ask me to do something, like go fishing with him, because a black man could not ask a white woman. I was shocked. This was in the late 1990s, not the 1890s.

I had to stop and think about the history and the messages that he had been brought up with before I could fully understand.

Instead of hanging on to the narrow-minded messages we all grew up with, perhaps it is time that we took a step toward that person of a different color and tried to connect person-to-person with mutual respect.

What do you think? Do you consider yourself racist? Are you willing to take a long hard look at your attitudes and see where there could be change? Is there a need to?

And now, since I prattled on so long, I will leave you with a funny meme to start the week off with a chuckle.


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Book Review – Jesus and Magdalene by Joao Cerqueira

Posted by Maryann on October 16, 2016 |

jesus-and-magdalene-197x300Jesus and Magdalene

Joao Cerqueira
Paperback: 324 pages
Publisher: Line By Lion Publications; First edition (July 6, 2016)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1940938775
ISBN-13: 978-1940938776

BOOK BLURB:  Jesus returns to earth.
After meeting activist Magdalene who is fighting for a better world, he becomes embroiled in three problematic situations.

He meets an extremist ecological group, which is plotting to destroy a maize plantation it believes to be genetically modified. Then, he observes the rise up against a tourist development that is to be built in a forest reserve. Finally, he witnesses an armed conflict between blacks and gypsies.

Along this journey, he meets a series of characters: the ecologists already mentioned, a priest who forces him to take confession, a corrupt local politician, unscrupulous contractors, a police commander forced to play Pilate, the inhabitants of run-down neighbourhood, a wizard who solves all the problems, and a black boy and a gypsy girl in love (Romy and Julian).

However, although he limits himself to accompanying Magdalene attempting only to pacify those on bad terms, even then Jesus is unable to escape the fury of mankind.

REVIEW: Some Christians might take offense at the humanization of Jesus, but that is one of the aspects of the book I liked best. A God who is far removed from us, living somewhere in a place we have never seen, is so hard to relate to. But a God who we can sit down with and have coffee is so easy to talk to.

The focus of the book Is on environmental issues and other social problems that Jesus encounters after he teams up with Magdalene and her organization. The author doesn’t hold back on the specifics of some of the problems we face in today’s world, as evidenced in this quote from the first part of the book. Magdalene and the members of the environmentalist group, Green are the Fields, are entering a farm where genetically modified corn is being grown. In the description of the corn that looks much different from what is grown naturally with normal fertilizers and water and the sun’s rays. Magdalene says, “The sap of capitalism was flowing through those plants: greed, deception, toxicity.”

It’s quite interesting to meet Jesus in the 21st century, and the story is most engaging when there are actual scenes with Jesus talking with Magdalene and the others. Some of the in between narrative that is very detailed about the environmental problems, of which we are all aware, do tend to go on a little too long, but the story is always saved when we go back to actual scenes where people are talking and acting. That’s where the reader can most relate to the characters and what they say and do.

It is evident that a great deal of research went into this book, and the reader can learn a great deal about the genetically modified foods as well as the circumstances that fuel bigotry and racism. In that sense the book can be read almost as a textbook that is blended into a novel.

The book is written as a satire, and there is plenty of humor to soften the hard edge of the messages of what is wrong in our society. So I would recommend the book to people who like a good satire.


João Cerqueira has a PhD in History of Art from the University of Oporto. He is the author of eight books. Blame it on to much freedom, The Tragedy of Fidel Castro, Devil’s Observations, Maria Pia: Queen and Woman, José de Guimarães (published in China by the Today Art Museum), José de Guimarães: Public Art.

You can see information about all of his books on his AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE

Joao will be my Wednesday’s Guest this week, so do stop by for a fun interview with Jesus.

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Friday’s Odds and Ends

Posted by Maryann on October 14, 2016 |

Welcome to Friday everyone. I saw this meme and couldn’t resist. I remember when I worked at the hospital, we all looked forward to Fridays and having the weekend to recoup physically and emotionally. While I was blessed in so many ways by my work as a chaplain, it did take a toll. 

And who can resist this darling face? I dare you. Tell me it is not the cutest thing.



IN THE NEWS – A story at Newsmax shows that Donald Trump is being affected by the recent news about how he has treated women. At a rally last Wednesday in Florida, he wondered aloud why some women aren’t backing him.

“I see all these ‘Women for Trump’ signs. I love this,” Trump said. “I see hundreds of women for Trump, then I see a poll. ‘He is not doing well with women.’ I don’t know.”

Caught in a tornado of political trouble, with daunting poll numbers, rebukes from his fellow Republicans over his sexist comments, and mounting allegations of unwanted touching by women from his past, Trump clearly has the prospect of losing the 2016 presidential race on his mind.

“If we don’t win this election, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t know,” he mused at his Wednesday campaign rally in Ocala.

Meanwhile in the Clinton camp – According to a story on Fox New, the FBI and Department of Justice still think that Clinton should be prosecuted for the e-mail debacle. One person who worked on the year-long investigation told Fox News:

… that career agents and attorneys on the case unanimously believed the Democratic presidential nominee should have been charged.

The unnamed source said:

FBI Director James Comey’s dramatic July 5 announcement that he would not recommend to the Attorney General’s office that the former secretary of state be charged left members of the investigative team dismayed and disgusted.

Early in 2015, news broke that Clinton had used a private email server in her home to conduct government business while serving as Secretary of State from 2009-2013. The emails on the private server included thousands of messages that would later be marked classified by the State Department retroactively. Federal law makes it a crime for a government employee to possess classified information in an unsecure manner, and the relevant statute does not require a finding of intent.

It’s important to note that the messages were not classified when she was corresponding via the server at her home.

This from the Libertarian ticket – Third party candidate, Gary Johnson  seems to be gaining some traction, according to Inquisitr.com

Johnson’s popularity with vets may have something to do with reports that Trump dodged the Vietnam War, or because of the fact that he mocked Sen. McCain for being captured during his tour in Korea.

Additionally, many millennials who once saw a messiah in Bernie Sanders might now be turning to Johnson as a possible alternative. Sanders’ would-be voters clearly have grievances against Clinton, and many may be loath to vote for Trump as he’s touched a lot of sensitive points.

If you would like a look at the latest polls by Rasmussen, here is a LINK

I will admit that I will not vote for the Trumpster. There is just too much that disturbs me about him and the reasons he is running for president.

That said, I am not sure who I will vote for between Clinton and Johnson. There are things I like about each candidate, but also things I do not like. I will just continue to try to stay informed and make a decision on November 8.

Okay, enough of that. 

FRIDAY FUNNIES – Beware, the first one is a little naughty, but it made me chuckle. The jokes were borrowed from The Laugh Factory where you can read lots of other jokes, some naughtier than others, but all funny.

Reporter: “Excuse me, may I interview you?”
Man: “Yes!”
Reporter: “Name?”
Man: “Abdul Al-Rhazim.”
Reporter: “Sex?”
Man: “Three to five times a week.”
Reporter: “No no! I mean male or female?”
Man: “Yes, male, female… sometimes camel.”
Reporter: “Holy cow!”
Man: “Yes, cow, sheep… animals in general.”
Reporter: “But isn’t that hostile?”
Man: “Yes, horse style, dog style, any style.”
Reporter: “Oh dear!”
Man: “No, no deer. Deer run too fast. Hard to catch.”

You are on a horse, galloping at a constant speed. On your right side is a sharp drop off, and on your left side is an elephant traveling at the same speed as you.

Directly in front of you is another galloping horse but your horse is unable to overtake it.

Behind you is a lion running at the same speed as you and the horse in front of you.

What must you do to safely get out of this highly dangerous situation?

Get your drunk ass off the merry-go-round!

That’s all for me folks. Have a great weekend. Do you have things to do and places to go? My weekend is going to be quiet, so I plan to get some writing done.


Before you go, don’t forget to enter the great contest I’m sponsoring with 39 other authors of thriller and suspense novels.

The Halloween Contest gives readers a chance to win a $200, $100, or one of four $25 Amazon gift cards. It’s easy and FREE to enter the Fabulous Fall Giveaway. Just click on the LINK and enter at the #1 site for reader giveaways–The Kindle Book Review.

Enter now; giveaway runs Oct. 10 – 24.

One Small Victory, is my featured book in the contest, and I have temporarily lowered the price to only 99 cents. Grab your copy now at the super low price.

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Need a Worm?

Posted by Maryann on October 12, 2016 |

First a Happy Birthday shout out to my son, Michael. Where have the years gone? Hope you have a wonderful day.


Slim Randles is today’s Wednesday’s Guest, and he has a story about good ol’ Dewey. It’s been a while since we heard about how the worm business is going, but we can join the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop and get caught up. Everyone is probably drinking coffee – that’s what the guys like – so we can have a cup, too. Enjoy….



Dewey Decker showed his new business cards to the other guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop’s philosophy counter, and each member of the world dilemma think tank got to keep one.

Steve, our owlish-appearing cowboy, scratched his head as he studied the card.  “Okay, Dewey, I’ll bite … what’s a verm-a- ….?”

“Vermiculturist, Steve,” Dewey said, proudly. “It means I raise worms.”

Dewey, the beloved accident-prone member of the think tank, began his new career with just a shovel and his pickup, spreading manure in people’s yards. Now, thanks in great part to the genius of his girlfriend, Emily Stickles, (she of the magnificent cheekbones) he was earning a decent living. Back when they fell (literally … he tripped) in love, she took this crash-and-burn disaster and molded him into a multi-dimensional businessman, while still keeping him away from sharp objects or things that crush.

Dewey has branched out now into compost, worms (excuse me … vermiculture) and fertilizer tea. The tea goes on the lawn, not in the tea cups.

“Dewey,” said Doc, “this vermiculture stuff now … how much work is it, really?”

“That’s the good part about it, Doc. You see, I don’t have to do anything at all, really, except keep them in … product, you know. They reproduce without any outside help, and turn manure into the best compost in the world. Then you can sell them to other people to work their compost piles, or to fishermen.”

“Well, Dewey,” said Herb, “it looks to me like simply being a vermiculturist doesn’t really cover the subject. Wouldn’t those red wigglers also make you a compostocologist?”

“Hadn’t really thought about …” Dewey said.

“And when it comes to selling them to fishermen,” Doc said, “wouldn’t you be an ichthymasticatiousdietician?”

“I … I …”

“Yes, Dewey?”

“I refuse to be anything I can’t spell.”


Gift idea: signed copy of “Complete Cowboy Bucket List” by Slim Randles. 


The Home Country radio show with Slim Randles will be coming soon to a radio station near you! New, from Syndication Networks.

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 370 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by Maryann on October 10, 2016 |

First I want to announce a Fabulous Fall Giveaway

I’ve teamed up with 40 other authors of thriller and suspense novels to sponsor this Halloween Contest, giving readers a chance to win a $200, $100, or one of four $25 Amazon gift cards. It’s easy and FREE to enter the Fabulous Fall Giveaway. Just click on the LINK and enter at the #1 site for reader giveaways–The Kindle Book Review. Enter now; giveaway runs Oct. 10 – 24.

One Small Victory, is my featured book in the contest, and I have temporarily lowered the price to only 99 cents. Grab your copy now at the super low price.

And don’t forget to enter the contest.

And check out the other titles being offered at discount prices. There are lots of good deals to be had.


I wasn’t going to do it anymore, honest. I was going to back off on posting things about the Trumpster, but what was revealed late Friday changed my mind. An audio tape was recently released that has a conversation in which Trump was talking in very lewd terms about women. The conversation took place in 2005  between Trump and Billy Bush, then of “Access Hollywood,” on a bus, and apparently neither man was aware that there was an open mic nearby. Using extremely vulgar language, Trump bragged about kissing, groping and trying to have sex with women.

Trump says it was just “locker room banter.”

Okay, maybe it was, and maybe he’s not the only political candidate who has talked in such vile terms, but it is his attitude, more than even the words, that distresses me. He was making light of sexual assault.

The following is just a segment of that conversation between Trump and Bush:

“And when you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

“Whatever you want,” says another voice, apparently Bush’s.

“Grab them by the p—y,” Trump says. “You can do anything.”

You can read more at The Washington Post, if you care to.

This has created a flurry of responses from both sides of the political line, and Trump was criticized by members of his own party. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who said he is “sickened” by Trump’s comments, said the Republican presidential candidate will no longer appear with him at a campaign event in Wisconsin on Saturday.

More responses have varied between some men who have said they have never heard such talk in locker rooms – which I doubt – and others who say it is common. I suspect it is common in high school and college locker rooms at a time when hormones are particularly charged for young men, but as maturity sets in, most men realize how demeaning that kind of talk is and find nicer things to say about women.

At least that is what the idealist in me believes. And the men in my family, and those I call friends, would never talk that way.


Since I know I am not the only one who has had a number of significant losses in recent years and struggle to write despite the emotional stress, I thought this recent post by Barbara Claypole White at Writer Unboxed would be helpful for all of us. In Ten Tips for Writing Through Family Stress Barbara offers great advice.

While her family stress is different from what I have experienced, the ways to deal with it are the same across the board, and the first tip really resonated with me:

Laugh like you mean it

I was having a good rant the other day when I overhead my husband ask our son, “Is she talking to us?” The Delinquent replied, “Nah, Dad. She’s just venting.” “How can you tell the difference?” my husband said, at which point I cracked up. Real laughter, the kind that snorts out through your nose, annihilates stress.

We used humor in our family to deal with many a crisis, and I agree that a good belly laugh makes you feel so much better. It also diffuses conflict.

I remember one particular incident with my oldest son, who at age 15 thought he could intimidate Mom with a steely glare. I burst out laughing, and he didn’t quite know what to do.

Should I keep trying to intimidate Mom?

Should I stomp off in anger?

In the end, he just smiled. “I meant to make you laugh,” he said.

finalcover-optimizedOkay folks, that’s it for me today. Lots of work to do. I am getting ready to release One Perfect Love, the sequel to One Small Victory, so I have edits to deal with and a cover to approve. Jenny won’t be so angry in the new cover. 🙂

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Friday’s Odds and Ends

Posted by Maryann on October 7, 2016 |

Earlier this week I received a phone call from my niece, Pat, telling me that her father had died a few weeks ago. Somehow in the confusion of the sudden death there was a mix-up in the phone calls, and I was not notified at the time.

George Watson was married to my husband’s sister, Mary, and news of his death made my heart ache and the memories flood in.

George H Watson

George and Mary were the first ones in the Miller family to warmly welcome me into the family. I was from the wrong side of their tracks, so while the other two brothers and Mom Miller were cordial, they were less than enthused about Carl marrying poor white trash.

Over time, the rest of the family came to accept me – I guess they figured the marriage would last after we passed the 20 year mark. That’s how Carl and I joked about it for so long, but really, after a few years the rest of the family did warmly embrace me.

The Miller family was, and still is, a supporter of St. Clement church and school in Centerline MI, and George was a member of Dad’s Club, as was Carl and his two brothers, Dick and Gene. Every Friday during lent the Dad’s Club would hold a fish fry, and we would all work there. The men cooking fish, and the wives making sides.

George was a snorer. A very loud snorer, and one of the stories we loved to tell about him concerned a hunting trip that Carl and I took with George and my sister’s husband, Robert. We all enjoyed bow hunting and were out on a beautiful, crisp fall day tramping through the woods. At one point, we split up, Carl and I going in one direction and Robert heading in another with George.

Apparently at one point, George decided to snuggle up to a log and take a quick nap. When we all joined up again, and Carl asked Robert how it had gone with them, Robert said, “”Well, George here snored so loud, he chased all the deer away.”

I have a million other wonderful memories of trips and holidays and card games and the annual Miller picnic to celebrate the end of summer and have one last hurrah before school started. It was always held over Labor Day Weekend, and we would rent a space in a local park to hold all the Millers.

So today, my heart is heavy and tears mist my eyes as I think of all those lovely people who are gone, Mom, Carl, Shirley (Dick’s wife), Mary, Gene, and now George.

If they can connect up with one more up there, they have two tables for euchre.


It’s only fitting that I share some of the last jokes that George sent me:


You can’t trust dogs to watch your food..
Don’t sneeze when someone is cutting your hair..
Never hold a Dust-Buster and a cat at the same time.
You can’t hide a piece of broccoli in a glass of milk.
Don’t wear polka-dot underwear under white shorts.
The best place to be when you’re sad is Grandma’s lap.


Families are like fudge…mostly sweet, with a few nuts.
Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut that held its ground.
Laughing is good exercise. It’s like jogging on the inside.
Middle age is when you choose your cereal for the fiber, not the toy.
It’s frustrating when you know all the answers but nobody bothers to ask you the questions.
Time may be a great healer, but it’s a lousy beautician.


For #felineFriday – a picture of John, one of our favorite cats.


I’m currently reading an ARC of Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult which releases next week. Ruth, the central character is a nurse who has spent most of her life trying to get along with white people, doing whatever she has to in order to be accepted as a person and not be judged by the color of her skin. She is a labor and delivery nurse, good at her job, but the only black nurse in the unit.

A couple, members of the KKK, demand that Ruth be barred from touching their baby, and the nursing supervisor capitulates. Ruth is stunned that her colleagues do not step up to defend her, but she swallows her hurt and anger and does her job.

The baby suddenly codes and Ruth is part of the crash team, giving the baby chest compressions, and the baby’s father sees her. After the baby dies, the father files charges and Ruth is arrested for negligent homicide and murder.

Unlike white professionals who are notified of the charges and allowed to turn themselves in, the police swarm into Ruth’s house in the middle of the night, guns brandished. They push her down on the floor and handcuff her roughly. When her teenage son runs out to see what’s going on, the police put him down and handcuff him as well.

Other than occasions when people made comments that were insulting, or Ruth was treated badly by some of her white school friends at the prestigious boarding school she attended, she has never come so starkly face-to-face with this type of ingrained hostility toward black people.

Her sister, on the other hand, has experienced the hostility many times. After Ruth is released on bail, she is having lunch with her sister; the two of them trying to figure out what she’s going to do. Ruth’s nursing license was suspended so she can’t work, and her sister suggest that Ruth connect up with a preacher and activist, who is frequently on the news, talking about one injustice or another.

Wallace, the preacher, always talks loud and gestures wildly and Ruth asks, “Does he have to be mad all the time?”

Her sister laughs, “Well hell, girl, I’m mad all the time. I’m exhausted just from being black all day.”

I thought that closing statement was very revealing. The story offers insights from both sides of the color line, which is something I tried to do in Open Season, but it was only a subplot in that story. This book attacks the issue head on and is a must-read book for anyone who would like to see what it is like to be black, or white, and face the bigotry that is still so rampant.

This is it for me folks until Monday. I have another busy weekend at the Winnsboro Center for The Arts; first an author appearance by Stanley Nelson, who will be discussing the research for his book, Devil Walking, which focuses on the racially-motivated murders in Mississippi in the 60s by a splinter group of the KKK. Then on Sunday there is a classical concert featuring the vocalist, Jared Schwartz, and pianist Mary Dibbern.

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Not a Typical Golf Tournament

Posted by Maryann on October 5, 2016 |

Slim Randles is today’s Wednesday’s Guest with some humor from the guys down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop. The Autumn chill is definintely in the air now, at least in the early-morning air, so a hot cup of coffee tastes great after chores are done. And a little something sweet to go with it hits the spot. Help yourself and enjoy….


It’s fall, and time once again for the Chipper Invitational Golf Tournament here in the valley. You remember Chipper, Doc’s imaginary squirrel? The one who was imaginarily squirrel-napped?


Just in case you have a hard time imagining Chipper.

Doc named the annual golf tournament after good ol’ Chipper. The tournament is used to raise money for coats for kids who need them. And it’s only fit and proper it be named for Chipper, since the golf tournament itself is just about as genuine as the squirrel.

There isn’t a real golf course here in the valley, you know. You have to go to the city for that. So Doc decided to just wander around with a shovel, digging holes here and there and putting flags next to them. The flags, in civilian life, sure look a lot like metal t-posts.

Another thing that makes Doc’s tournament unique is that there is absolutely no way to practice for it. That’s because the “golf course” is usually laid out a day ahead of time each year, and every fall, Doc picks another spot for it.

The holes are different, the fairways are non-existent, and the hazards … oh, the hazards. After the first tournament, when one of Harold Brewster’s cows got hit in the butt, there are no longer any four-legged ambulatory golf hazards. Farmers are allowed to move them, happily, into bomb shelters or corrals for the duration of the madness.

But have you ever tried to hit a golf ball that parked itself beneath an old, rusty hay baler? Such things make the course … challenging? Yes, and fun.

This year, Doc’s theme was what he called trans-oceanic. This means, in valley talk, having the tee-boxes on one side of Lewis Creek and the holes on the other. It will be interesting to see how many errant golf balls hit the tire swing at the swimming hole and vanish forever into the depths.

Chipper would approve, I’m sure.


Children’s gift idea: signed copy of “Ol’ Jimmy Dollar,” by Slim Randles. LPDPress.com

 *** 2016 SPUR Book Awards, Western Writers of America ***
Finalist Western Storyteller, Illustrated Children’s Book: “Ol’ Jimmy Dollar” by Slim Randles and illustrated by Jerry Montoya


The Home Country radio show with Slim Randles will be coming soon to a radio station near you! New, from Syndication Networks.

Slim Randles writes a nationally syndicated column, “Home Country” that is featured in 370 newspapers across the country. He is also the author of a number of books including  Saddle Up: A Cowboy Guide to Writing. That title, and others, are published by  LPD Press. If you enjoy his columns here, you might want to check out the book Home Country. It has some of the best of his offerings through the years.


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