It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Book Review: Only Charlotte by Rosemary Poole-Carter

Posted by mcm0704 on August 18, 2019 |

Only Charlotte
Rosemary Poole-Carter
Paperback: 458 pages $15.00
Publisher: Top Publications, Ltd. (July 22, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1733328300
ISBN-13: 978-1733328302
Also available for Kindle $7.99

BLURB: Lenore James, a woman of independent means who has outlived three husbands, is determined to disentangle her brother Gilbert from the beguiling Charlotte Eden. Chafing against misogyny and racism in the post-Civil War South, Lenore learns that Charlotte’s husband is enmeshed in the re-enslavement schemes of a powerful judge, and she worries that Gilbert’s adoration of Charlotte will lead him into disaster.

Inspired by a production of Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale”, Lenore adopts the role of Paulina for herself to discover how far Charlotte’s husband bears the blame for his wife’s fate and whether or not he is capable of atonement. In her process of unraveling the intricacies of the lives of others, Lenore finds that Gilbert’s love for Charlotte is, indeed, his saving grace while Lenore’s passion for creative expression is her own.

REVIEW:  This novel is an enjoyable read on so many levels, and it has some of the best descriptions that I’ve read in quite a while. Just one example is this visual of a flock of sparrows feeding in a graveyard in the fall. “The sparrows’ brown feathers had been indistinguishable from the withered leaves through which they sifted, and in the next, their wings lifted clear in a gust, stirring the air in their upward passage before they reconfigured themselves like a cluster of Autumn leaves miraculously returned to the branches of an oak.”

And in another passage, “The rain itself would cling in various stages of dispersion along his coat sleeves, the newest drops holding their spherical shape another moment before breaking open and spilling their contents into the weave of dark gray wool.”

The use of language to paint word pictures, as well as the author’s deft hand at characterization, reflects her background and experience in dramatics and visual arts. Using Shakespeare’s “The Winter’s Tale” as a parallel to the plot of Only Charlotte is a literary device that works seamlessly and quite well, and while reading I looked forward to the next time the two plot lines intertwined as quietly as “A noiseless patient spider.” ACT IV, Scene IV

At just the right times throughout the story, that allusion of the spider was used effectively as a harbinger of the next unexpected plot twist.

Lenore is by far my favorite character – the closest in personality to the author I suspect – with Gilbert only slightly behind. His kindness and compassion makes him a true “healer” and that is displayed quite effectively in how his heart breaks when seeing people, especially children, suffering unnecessarily as the result of the difficult time in which people were living in those years following Reconstruction.

Lenore is a more pragmatic character as reflected in the reverie she has about her late husband, Bartholomew James, who shortly after marriage changed from a considerate romantic to a self-centered elitist. Her musing ends with, “Well, he has gone to his reward. My Equanimity returned.”

Charlotte, around whom the entire story revolves, is a little harder to label. Through most of the story she is a weak, rather hapless person and things happen to her as opposed to her making decisions and taking action. But here again, the author does not disappoint. At just the right time Charlotte does take charge of her life, showing some backbone I always suspected existed.

Overall, this was a delightful book, and I highly recommend it.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Rosemary Poole-Carter explores aspects of an uneasy past in her novels Only Charlotte, Women of Magdalene, What Remains, and Juliette Ascending, all set in the post-Civil War South. Her plays include The Familiar, a ghost story, and The Little Death, a Southern gothic drama. Fascinated by history, mystery, and the performing and visual arts, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, Mystery Writers of America, and the Dramatists Guild of America. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, she was a long-time resident of Houston, where she practiced her devotion to reading and writing with students of the Lone Star College System. She now lives and writes by the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina.

You can find out more about her on her WEBSITE and visit with her on FACEBOOK

Do plan on coming back on Monday when Rosemary will be my guest with a fun exchange between herself and Lenore.  

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Meet the Author: Erin-Claire Barrow

Posted by mcm0704 on August 14, 2019 |

Help me welcome Erin-Claire Barrow as today’s Wednesday’s Guest. She has written and illustrated the delightful book, The Adventurous Princess and other feminist fairy tales, which I reviewed here this past Sunday. This is a long post, but it’s all quite interesting, especially the history of fairy tales and the men who first wrote them. 🙂

Hi Maryann, thank you so much for having me here, it’s a real pleasure to chat with you about the book, and thank you for your thoughtful review! I’m so glad you enjoyed the exchange between Ella and her fairy godmother in Cinderella, that was a scene I particularly enjoyed writing.

Q. First, I have to say your book was a delight to read. How did you come up with the idea to write the fairy tales with a feminist twist? Do you have an agenda?

A. That’s an interesting choice of words, because it is arguably impossible to tell stories without an agenda of some kind, and people have been retelling fairy tales with many different agendas for hundreds of years. From the 16th to the 19th century, fairy tales were deliberately retold, sometimes in written form for the first time after being an oral tradition for hundreds of years, with a focus on prescribing how people, and children in particular, should behave. Authors also used fairy tales to critique powerful people and institutions, as well as social norms. For example, the subtle critique of the French Court of Louis XIV by late 17th century fairy tale authors, or Madame de Villeneuve’s critique of restrictive marriage practices in her original version of Beauty and the Beast.

I have always loved fairy tales, but many of the traditional ones I grew up with, from the Grimm brothers, Charles Perrault, and Hans Christian Andersen – through to Disney, don’t truly represent the society we live in today. The heroes of these stories are usually either expressly, or implicitly, straight, white, young, able-bodied and conventionally beautiful. In addition, many of the tales reinforce traditional gender roles and stereotypes, with women being rewarded for their beauty, obedience, and passivity, while men are rewarded for taking risks, being brave, clever, and active.

Today we recognise the diversity within our society and value equality in a way that wasn’t the case when many of these fairy tales were written. In my book, I’m continuing a long tradition of retelling fairy tales to fit the norms and values of the current time. Through this book, I hope more people will be able to see themselves represented in fairy tales.

ODESSY BOOK

Q. Why did you choose these nine fairy tales in particular?

A. I chose them for two reasons. First, I hoped readers would recognise them and enjoy the twists in these retellings. Second, I chose tales that had always sat a little uneasily with me because of the expectations placed on women to be obedient, beautiful, and gentle, with little opportunity to actively change their own stories. A resolution is largely achieved because the woman is the passive recipient of someone else’s ability to resolve the central conflict of the story, often through marriage, and there were sometimes undertones of sexual violence.

For example, in “Allerleirauh”, the hero of the traditional fairy tale first runs from her father, then is reluctantly revealed to another King who declares his intention to marry her regardless of her attempts to pull away or to hide her identity. In the “Swan Maiden”, the title character is kidnapped by a huntsman who immediately marries her because of her beauty; she is forced into a relationship against her will and escapes as soon as the opportunity presents itself.

The Princess from “The Princess and the Pea” is delicate to the point of ridiculous, her only purpose is to prove that she is royalty by being unsuitable to be anything else. The story never questions whether the Prince’s desires align with those of his parents, who want him to marry a delicate princess, much less whether the Princess wants to marry the Prince.

Interestingly, if you consider the history of retelling fairy tales, these characters have not always been depicted this way. Cinderella was a much more active hero before Charles Perrault retold her story in 17th century France. He had very particular ideas about how women should behave – they should be obedient, gentle, and focus on their beauty and how they could best support and please their husbands.

Q. Will there possibly be more fairy tales to come?

A. I hope so! I would be interested to explore a more adult retelling of fairy tales, exploring the subversive potential and darker themes of the traditional stories a little further.

Illustration for “The Beauty & The Beast” story.

Q.  If you could go through a wormhole, would you go into the future, the past, or stay right here? Why?

A. Although I worry that it might be very bleak, I would love to go into the future. I wish I could jump forward a few hundred years, spend a while there getting to know what’s happened, and then jump forward again. I’m eternally curious about what comes next!

Q.  Have you always wanted to be a writer, or have you come to writing after another career? What was that career?

A. I’ve always loved writing, but I’m also an illustrator and much more of my time is spent on illustration than writing. Having said that, neither of these is a full-time career – I’ve always worked full time in other jobs while illustrating and writing. I currently work in policy around supporting vulnerable children and families. I hope one day the illustration or writing will be a full-time career, but I suspect that day is still a while off!

Q.  What is your family’s favorite story to tell on you?

A. When I was little, I was playing outside with my younger brother, and came running into the house screaming for mum to come quickly. Mum thought something terrible had happened to my brother and raced outside. It turned out I wanted to show her the beautiful sunset before it disappeared!

Q.  What other creative things do you do?

A. I love to paint watercolour illustrations. If I had all the spare time in the world I’d love to practice my digital art and my acrylic painting. There are so many things to learn and experiment with!

Q.  What do you do for fun?

A. I really love hiking and getting out to wild places, the wilder the better! I am fortunate that I live within an hour or so drive from some really lovely mountain wilderness, with stunning scenery and challenging hikes. My favourite walk has a lyrebird halfway up the mountain who is always singing, except when it snows!

Photo courtesy of The Australian Museum

Photo of the Lyrebird Courtesy of the Australian Museum

Q.  Do you have a pet?

A. I feel like I need to prove I can keep a plant alive for more than a few months before I can trust myself with a pet! I am currently working hard looking after one little fern and a tiny lichen garden that was a present from my scientist sibling.

You can find out more about Erin-Claire and see her wonderful artwork on her WEBSITE * Visit her on FACEBOOK ** TWITTER **  INSTAGRAM & TUMBLER

BUY LINK FOR THE BOOK

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Book Review:The Adventurous Princess by Erin-Claire Barrow

Posted by mcm0704 on August 11, 2019 |

澳洲森林ODESSY BOOK-儿童书-精装本-钢刀

The Adventurous Princess And Other Feminist Fairy Tales
Erin-Claire Barrow

Paperback: 60 pages $14.95
Publisher: Odyssey Books (June 1, 2019)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1925652726
ISBN-13: 978-1925652727

BOOK BLURB: What if Beauty stood up to the Beast, the Princess never tried to sleep on the pea (and wouldn’t have noticed it if she had), and the Swan Maiden took her revenge on the hunter who kidnapped her?

The Adventurous Princess and other feminist fairy tales is a retelling of nine traditional fairy tales with a feminist twist. Fairy tales open up new worlds full of enchantment and adventure, but many of these traditional stories also reinforce rigid gender roles and norms, perpetuate stereotypes, and lack diversity in their characters.

In The Adventurous Princess, the charm, whimsy, and magic of traditional fairy tales remain, but the diverse characters challenge stereotypes about who they should be or how they should act, stand up for themselves, and shape their own futures.

REVIEW: The Adventurous Princess is a charming book with delightful illustrations, and I absolutely love the feminist twists on the traditional fairy tales. Not that I’m a raging feminist, but for so long these stories, with only a few exceptions, had the strong male character in the lead and the hapless young maiden who falls victim to whatever skulduggery the men were about. And the diversity of the characters in this new look at the old stories is presented in such an engaging way that this lover of fairy tales didn’t mind at all.

The writing is marvelous, and I really like how the style matches that of the traditional stories in a way that immerses the reader into the spirit of the older versions, while providing the twists. There are humorous moments in each story, and I especially liked how it was done in the second story, Cinderella. It features an older character, Ella, who has to persuade the King to hold a ball and has a clever exchange with her Fairy Godmother.

This is a book for all ages. For mothers and fathers to read to their daughters and sons – perhaps switching genders so Mom reads to a son and Dad reads to a daughter. There are great messages that are artfully woven into the story through words and pictures, and I highly recommend this book.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erin-Claire Barrow is an author and illustrator originally from the Adelaide Hills in South Australia. She paints in watercolours to create whimsical scenes, storybook illustrations, and bring to life the strange creatures of fairy tales and folklore. Erin-Claire is always on the lookout for ways to combine her passions for art and equality, and is particularly interested in how art can be used to raise awareness of social justice issues. In 2018, she spoke at TEDx Canberra on retelling fairy tales for our diverse, modern society to challenge stereotypes and encourage young people (and especially young women) to see themselves as the heroes of their own stories.

Come back on Wednesday when Erin-Claire will be my guest.

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What We Do For Love

Posted by mcm0704 on August 7, 2019 |

After a somewhat stumbling start to my week, I’m happy to let Slim Randles entertain us all today with a bit of levity. 

First I’m in great need of chocolate. How about you? Want to join me in some decadence? Help yourself and enjoy…

When you have a teenage relative, and the minimum age is 21 to go to a certain rock concert, and this relative has to go to the concert or die. Seriously. Die. Because life isn’t worth living if she misses it. And, if someone under 21 can go to the concert only if an adult accompanies them. And … if the only adult who will listen to the begging and the crying and the gnashing of teeth happens to be a semi-old cowboy, well … say hello to Starving Chickens.

I figured, with a name like Starving Chickens, this band probably wouldn’t have the strength to do more than a few numbers before breaking for burgers and fries.

Well, that was just about as wrong a job of figuring as was the rest of my figuring. You see, I also figured the music wouldn’t really hurt your ears, because they would want it to be a pleasant experience. I also figured that with three electric guitars on the stage at one time, at least one guitar player would hit the right chords.

Furthermore, I figured there would be some friendly banter between the group’s leader and the audience. You know, “Hi, how are you, having fun tonight? Now here’s one of our most-requested tunes,” things like that.

The older I get, the wronger I get.

Oh, the head screamer of Starving Chickens (I call him Tattoo Boy) came out to say something to all the impressionable minds waiting for his droplets of wisdom, friendship, and gratitude for coughing up admission. He looked around and then told them to do something quite rude, as well as anatomically impossible.

This brought down the house.

Impressionable Teen looked up at me with the stars of the universe in her eyes and yelled, “Oh wow! Did you hear what he said? And he looked right at me when he said it!”

Then it was two hours of throbbing before we got better. When it was over, we asked each other in sign language if we’d had fun. One thumbs up, one thumbs down.

Sometimes you have to work to stay current with what’s going on in life.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can join me now in saying, “Poor Slim.” And he did change the name of the rock band. Just to save you an unnecessary Google search, I did it for you. There were some pretty sad stories about actual chickens starving. ICK!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare  in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program.  

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Mass Shootings – Mass Hatred

Posted by mcm0704 on August 5, 2019 |

My Heart is Heavy Today

I thought my weekend was horrible because I spent Friday in ER with head pain that had gotten out of control. But the pain that lingers is nothing compared to the pain of the families who lost loved ones in the two mass shootings on Saturday. Nor does it begin to touch the pain of those who were injured.

Mass shooting in Dayton Ohio

Mass shooting in El Paso, Texas

When will it ever end? When will we ever learn? I keep asking those questions over and over on my blog, and I’m not alone.

And then we see posts like this on Facebook. Shared with permission:

On Dave’s birthday in 2012, the nation mourned the children and adults killed at Sandy Hook Elementary.

On my birthday in 2017, the nation mourned the 58 who died at a concert in Las Vegas.

Today, on my son’s birthday, the nation mourns the 20 killed in El Paso and the 9 killed in Dayton.

Marking birthdays with mass shootings is a uniquely American possibility.

Does the hateful rhetoric from White Nationalists hold part of the blame for recent tragedies?

Beto O’Rourke spoke out Sunday Morning answering that question, saying unquestionably that it does. And the hate speech starts at the top in Washington D.C.

“We also have to acknowledge that that the open racism and intolerance and hatred that we are seeing throughout this country Being echoed  by the President of the United States who encourages this kind of hatred,” he said.

Does the proliferation of guns, especially assault-type weapons hold part of the blame?

Yes it does, and we can thank Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader of the Senate who has refused to bring gun control bills that the House has voted on to the Senate floor.

And we must lay part of the blame on the gun-manufacturer whose advertising says that men must have assault weapons to be a real man.

Jennifer Rubin had this to say in an opinion piece at the Washington Post

For decades now, Republicans have insisted mass murders with semiautomatic weapons are not reflective of a gun problem. I can no longer comprehend how such a ludicrous assertion is remotely acceptable. But in one sense they are right: It’s not merely Republicans’ indulgence of the National Rifle Association that puts Americans’ lives in jeopardy; it is the support and enabling of a president that inspires white nationalist terrorists — and even denies white nationalism is a problem.

That’s all for me for today, folks. I do hope we can go forward from here and find real solutions for the problems that all play a part in these horrible events. In the meantime, be safe – I really mean it. And be happy. I mean that, too. 

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All-American Names

Posted by mcm0704 on July 31, 2019 |

Did you listen to the Democratic Presidential Candidates Debate last night? I did not, even though I’m very interested in what the candidates stand for. The problem with so many debates is that they turn into attacks on the other candidates, and that is not what a true debate is supposed to be. 

So, I chose to skip the coverage and wait until today to catch the highlights. While I’m scouring the Web to find reports, I’ll let Slim Randles entertain you again. This is a post that can make one stop and think about the problems some immigrants have in being accepted as American citizens. It’s got a cute punchline, too, so it’s worth the read. 

Grab a glass of some refreshing iced tea and enjoy…

Iced mint tea

The Bahdziewicz clan trooped into the Mule Barn for lunch the other day, happily and noisily as only eight Americans totally in love with summer can do. The patriarch of the clan, Abraham Lincoln Bahdziewicz, led the way to a large round table and seated his wife, Sally, before pointing to which chairs the kids should use. Some people can make a celebration out of sitting down to eat, and Abe’s gang knows how to do it.

The children, clockwise, were Woodrow Wilson Bahdziewicz, Betsy Ross Bahdziewicz, Neal Armstrong Bahdziewicz, John Kennedy Bahdziewicz, and Franklin Delano Bahdziewicz. Sally got a high chair for the youngest family member, Laura Bush Bahdziewicz.

We watched them order four meals for the seven of them, along with some empty plates for divvying things up. Then we took bets on whether or not they would have to ask for a “to go” box or two to take home with them. They didn’t. Laura Bush Bahdziewicz had to have chocolate cream pie wiped from her face twice during dessert, too.

Before they packed up to go, Abe came over to shake hands with the members of the world dilemma think tank here at the philosophy counter. He always looks as though he’s just headed home to open Christmas presents, and we envied him that wonderful zest for life.

“Abe,” said Doc, when it was his turn to shake hands, “we’ve been wondering. You’re named after a president, and all your kids are named for famous Americans.”

“That’s right,” Abe said. “My brothers and sister, too. All of us but my wife, Sally, and I call her Sally Ride Bahdziewicz sometimes, just for fun.”

“How did all that naming come about?”

“Well,” Abe said, “my dad came from Poland as a kid, and the other kids at school teased him about not being a real American, you know? So he decided his kids would never have that problem. They may have some trouble pronouncing the last name, but at least they know we’re Americans.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Monday Morning Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on July 29, 2019 |

Yesterday I was at the Winnsboro Center for the Arts for the latest Women In the Arts Exhibition. What fun it was to be there and see all the lovely works and meet the artists, and I was thrilled to be part of the show with my book, Evelyn Evolving. Thanks to my friend, Jane St. Romain for taking the picture of me next to the display.

This morning, while I was trying to think of what else I might write about here on the blog, I was coming up with nothing, so I decided to hop over to The Blood-Red Pencil blog to see the latest post there. Interestingly enough, the topic was how the negative aspects of current affairs has many writers feeling emotionally exhausted. We need emotional energy in order to put passion and excitement into the stories we write, because without passion, everything is flat. The settings, the characters, the plot and the narrative.

The post, Is the State of the World Affecting Your Writing? by Polly Iyer, and all the comments, are worth reading if you would like to get into the minds of writers and learn a little more about how we work that is so different from most other jobs. A writer friend, Melanie Jackson, summed it up quite well with her comment, “My writing has always come from a place of hope and that is a location very hard to find these days.”

And now, because I still haven’t thought of anything else to say here, I’ll turn the blog over to my friend Slim Randles and his pal, Dud. Enjoy…

“I took Duckworth to the dog show up in the city last weekend,” Dud said.

The other members of the Mule Barn truck stop’s world dilemma think tank and philosophy counter just looked at him.

Doc put it gently. “Dud? Was this so he could get some inspiration on looking good?”

Duckworth was a medium-sized dog that found Dud while Dud was walking and thinking about the novel he’s writing. No one answered the ad he put in the Valley Weekly Miracle, so he bunked in with Dud and, for some reason Dud seemed to want to keep to himself, the dog was henceforth known as Duckworth.  And, to be honest, Duckworth looked like he fell out of the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down.

“No, I was going to enter him in the dog show,” Dud said. “Took him right up to the registration table and tried to get him in a class. The lady there looked at ol’ Duck and asked to see his papers.”

Dud grinned. “I told her they were back home on the floor of the laundry room. She didn’t think it was funny.”

Now Duckworth had been introduced to the other dogs in the group at the sale barn, as is the custom, and Dud’s pals had been hesitant to ask much about him. Duckworth looked like something put together by a committee with a sense of humor. Oh, he was a dog … no doubt about that. But what kind of dog was he? It made for interesting coffee speculation, that’s for sure.

“You know,” Dud said, “Anita was against me getting any kind of dog until Duckworth came along. When I explained to her that Duckworth was a bird dog … a duck dog, actually, and that he’d help me bring more birds home, she finally gave in.”

“He’s a bird dog?” Steve said. “What kind?”

“Now that’s what that dog show lady asked me, you know? I had to explain to her about canardly terriers, because she wasn’t familiar with them.”

“Canar…?”

“Canardly terriers, you betcha,” Dud said, grinning, “why, I’ll bet you canardly tell what kind of terrier he is!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ 

Brought to you by Merrick Petcare  in Hereford, Texas. “We know it’s not just food in that bowl, it’s love. And that’s why it has to be the best.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at www.slimrandles.com, and in better bookstores and bunkhouses throughout the free world.

All of the posts here are from his syndicated column, Home Country that is read in hundreds of newspapers across the country. I am always happy to have him share his wit and wisdom here.

Slim Randles is a veteran newspaperman, hunting guide, cowboy and dog musher. He was a feature writer and columnist for The Anchorage Daily News for 10 years and guided hunters in the Alaska Range and the Talkeetna Mountains. A resident of New Mexico now for more than 30 years, Randles is the prize-winning author of a dozen books, and is host of two podcasts and a television program. 

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Flaunting Our Riches

Posted by mcm0704 on July 26, 2019 |

Happy Friday everyone. Remember the game Where’s Waldo? I have one for you. Where’s the Butterfly? You don’t have to look too closely to see the purple bunnies in this picture, but where’s the butterfly?

These flowers are planted in the front flowerbed just outside my office window, and I delight in seeing how many butterflies it attracts. Most of them are tiny, but I keep hoping to see a Monarch one of these days.

Now on to  the topic of this blog post.

Jacksonville Jaguars’ Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey arrived in training camp earlier this week in a Brinks armored truck; his message, “I want more money.” He actually didn’t say that, but the message was clear, and you can read the full story reported by Debbi Taylor at Forbes.

Ramsey is entering the fourth year of his four-year $23,351,000 rookie contract with the Jaguars that includes a $15,182,546 signing bonus, $22,901,000 guaranteed and an average salary of $5,837,750.

And he thinks he should get more? His rationale is that he should be paid as much as other top cornerbacks in the NFL.

I didn’t know about this incident until I saw a Tweet by a fellow-writer, William F. Aicher yesterday morning. He posed the question on Twitter, “Can we start hating overpaid athletes as much as we hate overpaid CEOs?”

I responded to Bill by saying that while I don’t promote saying we should hate people, as there is way too much hate being thrown around in our world today, I did agree that the amounts of money being made by some athletes and entertainers and top CEOs of large corporations is totally obscene.

How did we get to this place where salaries keep rising, and the gap between the wealthiest and the middle class keeps getting wider and wider?

Perhaps it all started when it became okay to talk about how much money you made. When it became okay for a person to ask this question at a  party, “Well, Joe, how much money did you make last year?”

There was a time when that was considered the height of rude behavior. Now it seems like people want to brag about their annual salaries as much as they brag about their kids. Maybe more.

I spent my entire life not knowing how much money my father made in a year. It was just never said, or asked. And I remember being stunned when the question of how much money I make was asked during a presentation at an author event. I stuttered and then finally blurted, “Enough.”

But I digress. Let’s get back to football.

It’s true that salaries for athletes who only have a short time to earn money on the field needed to improve from the earliest years of football when a player might make $6,000 a year. That was back in the 50s and early 60s. Then in the late 70s and 80s conditions improved with players getting an average of $750,000 a year, more benefits, and a piece of the revenue pie normally eaten by the owners alone.

It was during the 70s and 80s that I learned to enjoy watching pro football on television. It seemed like the players were there because they loved to play the game, not just for the money. They seemed to really enjoy being part of a team that pulled together to win. Not an individual resenting the fact that someone else on the team made more money.

What if nobody knew what players made? Then a new recruit might be more focused on the game and not the money he’s missing out on.

In the Twitter conversation, many folks posted the opinion that players deserve these high salaries because they play such a risky game, putting their lives on the line. Plus they only have a few years to earn what would be their retirement fund.

Both statements have veracity, but do the players need $15,000,000 a year in order to do that? What if they were as fiscally responsible as many of us have to be in order to have a retirement fund?

I think my friend Bill’s primary concern, which is also my concern, is where does this end? Or is there even an end?

It’s worth noting that we are not the only ones alarmed about escalating salaries. In 2014, I wrote a blog post “Too Much Money” in which I quoted a former hedge-fund executive, Sam Polk. He wrote a column in The Dallas Morning News, in which he was honest about how he, and others like him, made money in 2008, when so many of us were watching our retirement fund wither away to practically nothing. He thought that that disparity was perfectly okay until he heard a callous remark by his boss about the financial crisis. “All I’m concerned about is how this affects our company.”

Then he noticed “the vitriol that traders directed at the government for limiting bonuses after the crash.”

Polk then wrote, “I’d always looked enviously at the people who earned more than I did; now, for the first time, I was embarrassed for them and for me. What had seemed normal now seemed deeply distorted.”

Polk referred to his, and others, desperate need for more and more money, as a greed addiction. Have we become a country filled with people who are addicted to money?

That’s a good question for us all to ponder as we move into the weekend. I’d love to know what you think? And whatever you you have planned for this weekend, I hope it is fun and restful. Be safe. Be happy.

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Try, Try Again – Guest Post by JoAnn Wagner

Posted by mcm0704 on July 24, 2019 |

I’m welcoming JoAnn Wagner as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a fun post about never giving up when faced with a huge challenge. We’ve all been there, so we can all take heart from her experience.

PERSISTENCE PAYS OFF

Yes it does! I’ll tell you how in a little bit, but let me start with a big thank you to Maryann for reviewing my latest bookBook 8: Sir Pigglesworth’s Adventures in Pigeon Forge and for inviting me to be a guest blogger today.

Before I tell my ‘persistence pays off’ story (don’t worry, I won’t forget), I’d like to tell you a little bit about my author journey.

Sir Pigglesworth came into my life out of the blue and turned my world upside down. The pastor of my church gave the congregation a pink stress ball pig one Sunday in May, 2014 and asked us to post pictures on Facebook so everyone could see where we spent our summer, kind of like Flat Stanley…remember him?

Instead of posting pictures of myself with the pig, I asked everyone I met if I could take a picture of them with the pig. Everyone loved my little pink friend…no one turned me down! As a matter of fact, my postings became hugely popular and people wanted more. I had to give him a name by then and came up with Mr. Pigglesworth, but one day I thought…he looks like royalty. Before you could blink, the Queen knighted him, and Sir Pigglesworth was born!

I have been incredibly blessed in my journey, and I’m forever grateful to my pastor and my church family for their continued support, encouragement, and love. I wouldn’t be where I am without them! As I always say, my success is a God thing.

My hoofed hero became an unstoppable life-force early on, and he was thrust into the limelight right from the first book. My life has changed in many ways since I started my author journey. As a generally shy person, I’ve come out of my shell (somewhat) and I have become more open to talking to groups at schools, libraries, and churches. I have been featured in a national magazine, given radio and internet interviews and even do a live stream on Facebook every Tuesday. I have made many new friends including authors and fans. I love my new life!!

OK…now back to ‘persistence pays off’.

Book 8 in the series features Sir Pigglesworth’s adventures in Pigeon Forge, TN. As you probably know, that area is all about Dolly Parton. Since many of the tourist attractions are Dolly Parton related, I had to get permission to be able to highlight all the Dolly venues in my book. I searched the internet and contacted a gentleman who assured me he could get me the permission I needed.

Well…that’s where the problems started.

For four long months, I went back and forth with Steve…weekly and then daily phone calls that went unreturned, emails that were unanswered, except to tell me that he was ‘still working on it’. Grrrrrr…very frustrating.

Finally after four months, we drove to Pigeon Forge to talk to Steve in person. He was shocked when I walked in requesting (demanding?) an answer. After two days, he told me “no, I can’t give you permission to use Dolly’s name.”

Imagine my disappointment. But I wasn’t ready to give up!

Back to the internet, where I found the name of the managing partner of the Dolly Parton Foundation. There, I hit pay dirt! Two weeks after first talking with him, I got a phone call saying I have permission! I did a happy dance all around my house…my husband thought I was crazy…LOL.

If I had given up at the first ‘no’, my book wouldn’t have happened…after all, you can’t write a book about Pigeon Forge without mentioning Dolly! So the lesson here is – never give up the fight, believe in YOU.

Stay #pigalicious.

(I love her tagline – Stay #pigalicious. She ends all correspondence with it and it makes me smile when I see it. I dare you not to smile!)

JoAnn Wagner is the author of the popular Sir Pigglesworth Adventure Series for children ages 6-9.

Sir Pigglesworth has become an unstoppable life force since her first book was published in 2014. JoAnn has continued the piglet’s mission of sharing smiles around the world through a series of fun illustrated chapter books for children.  She has published eight adventures so far, all of which won First Place in the Royal Dragonfly Awards for Children’s Chapter Series in 2016. She also won First Place for Children’s Series from the Texas Authors Association in 2017. Two weeks after Book 8 was released in July 2018, it won the Pinnacle Book Achievement Award. She and Sir Pigglesworth have a full itinerary of new travels and more exciting adventures coming soon.

Sir Pigglesworth Adventure Series is available at this website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and wherever books are sold.

You can connect with JoAnn on Twitter    Instagram     Facebook

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Book Review: Sir Pigglesworth’s Adventures in Pigeon Forge by JoAnn Wagner

Posted by mcm0704 on July 21, 2019 |

Sir Pigglesworth’s Adventures in Pigeon Forge
JoAnn Wagner (Author)
David Darchicourt (Illustrator)
Age Range: 6 – 10 years
Grade Level: 1 – 4
Series: Sir Pigglesworth Adventure Series (Book 8)
Paperback: 82 pages $8.95
Publisher: Sir Pigglesworth Publishing; June 2018 edition (April 1, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1680550934
ISBN-13: 978-1680550931
Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.2 x 8.5 inches

BOOK BLURB: From the second his plane touched the ground, Sir Pigglesworth was anxious to jump off. After all, Dolly herself had invited him to Pigeon Forge to perform in the finale of her famous show at the Dolly Parton Stampede Dinner Theater! He had been practicing at home and wanted to show off his skills and say hello to Dolly.

Sir Pigglesworth couldn’t wait to explore the wonders of Pigeon Forge, Tennessee’s top tourist destination. Plans were to spend a few days there enjoying all the fun attractions before his big scene at the Stampede.

REVIEW: If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you already know that I love a cute picture book, so it’s no wonder I couldn’t pass up this delightful book about a rambunctious pig who gets himself into all kinds of scrapes. The illustrations are wonderful and complement the story so well. We can see some of the chaos that Sir Pigglesworth creates as he races around all the events at Dollywood, such as eating a girl’s banana split, but there are also nice moments, especially meeting new friends. Brody and his father teach Sir Pigglesworth how to do a few words in sign language – a gentle reminder to young readers to accept others who are not like them.

The story is laugh-out-loud funny in places. We meet Sir Pigglesworth in the beginning as he races into the house and runs smack dab into his mother who is carrying a bowl of gravy to the dinner table. The gravy lands on his father’s head, and the illustration for that page is hilarious. Between the very engaging story and pictures, kids of all ages will enjoy this little book, and it introduces young readers to chapter books.

I highly recommend the series and if you meet the author in person, you can get a cute little rubber Sir Pigglesworth doll. The books are also available in Spanish editions.

BUY LINK – Amazon

ABOUT THE AUTHOR 

The “Sir Pigglesworth’s Adventure Series” was born when JoAnn’s church gave out a flying pig stress ball for the congregation to take around over the summer and post pictures on Facebook.

Everywhere she went, people smiled and laughed and were excited to have their picture taken with Sir Pigglesworth, as she dubbed the pig. The idea blossomed until it became clear that Sir Pigglesworth’s adventures needed to be shared with children around the world.

JoAnn does book readings at school, libraries, and churches. Since kids like to get “stuff”, JoAnn gives them custom made Sir Pigglesworth bookmarks that are written in English on one side and Spanish on the other, and “I Love to Read” stickers.

You can find out more about the books, read the blog, and check out some free stuff on the Sir Pigglesworth Website.

Do come back on Wednesday when JoAnn will be my guest with a fun post on how she persevered to get permission to use the Dolly Parton venue names in her book.

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