It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

6

Don’t Take Romance Advice From Windy

Posted by mcm0704 on January 27, 2021 |

The kitten has nothing to do with today’s post. I just love the meme. I dare you not to smile when you see it. Double dare you. 🙂

Before I turn the blog stage over to Slim Randles and the gang down at the Mule Barn Truck Stop, I want to acknowledge the glimmer of good news that the rate of infections of the Corona virus in the U.S. is down. So are the number of daily deaths and hospitalizations.

But that doesn’t mean we should stop being vigilant, or we should stop practicing the safety measures of masks and social distancing. Until we get a handle on the three new COVID strains coming from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil, we can’t let our guard down.

Not being careful soon enough last January and February paid a large part in the U.S. having such high numbers of cases of COVID and deaths.

Let’s not set new records.

So, wear a mask, avoid large gatherings, and get the vaccine when you can. It may prove to be the best defense.

Now here’s Slim and the others. Grab a cookie to go with the beverage of your choice and enjoy…

Windy, my man,” said Doc, “how are you and the widow getting along?”

“She’s been sorta creepitatin’ up on my blind side, Doc,” Windy said.

Dud set his coffee cup down. “Which side is that, Windy?”

“Very humoristic, Dud. Ha. Ha.”

We had all been watching, as closely as we could, the relationship between Windy Wilson, bachelor, camp cook, cowboy, and teller of tales … and Mamie Dilworth, aging hippie chick, starer at crystals, vegetarian, widow.

We all knew, those of us who lived vicariously alongside the perimeter of their friendship, that if it could’ve been filmed, it’d be on television longer than The Flying Nun.

“Doc,” said Windy, “ol’ Mame the Dame is a awful nice lady, sure ‘nuf. I have considerationed maybe takin’ our friendship to the next level.”

“What level is that?” Steve asked with a grin.

“Steve, that would be puttin’ one of my patented power sneaks on ‘er and holdin’ hands.”

“Be careful you don’t rush these things, Windy. You’ve only known each other a couple of years now.”

“I’ll be careful, Doc, don’t you worry none. Why, we almost got to that there hand-holdin’ when we capper-sized that stock tank boat of mine in the crick. Had to pull ‘er out. Weren’t no grateful smooch, howsomever.”

“So why ramp it up now?”

“Valentine’s Day, Steve! Comin’ up, ain’t it. Yessir, afore long there’s gonna be young lovers squarin’ off and smoochin’ and darin’ the world to stop ‘em from cuddlin.’ I really take to Valentine’s Day.”

“Buy her a card yet?”

“Thinkin’ on it, Doc. But I gotta get jest the right kind. Can’t be too moochie-smoochie or she’ll get the wrong idear. What I’m lookin’ for is one that says, ‘Mame, I kinda like you and think you’se smart and kind, And would you like to hold hands and talk about good stuff? And no more a-them tofu tacos, thank you.”

“That’s a tall order, Windy.”

“Valentine’s only comes oncet a year, boys.”

Brought to you by A Cowboy’s Guide to Growing Up Right.  Avuncular tips from a guy who made lots of mistakes.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page 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.

That’s all from me folks. I’ll be back on Feb. 4 with a review of Stork Bite, a terrific story by L.K. Simonds.

Happy Hump Day 

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0

Venerable Old Cars

Posted by mcm0704 on January 25, 2021 |

Good Monday Morning everyone. How’s your week shaping up? This will be a busy time for me as I prepare for a visit from a long-time girlfriend who is coming for a week. 

Before talking more about my friend and the upcoming visit, I want to share this meme that another friend sent me over the weekend. It so perfectly expresses what is in my heart today. Plus I just love Snoopy and Charlie Brown.

 

Okay, now back to our regularly scheduled program

Flo, who quickly became Flo-Bell for reasons unknown, has been my friend since we were just out of high school. She, actually the year before me, and we didn’t go to the same schools. She was raised in Cadillac, Michigan, and I grew up just outside of Detroit. “Downstate” as those northerners referred to the area. We met at a small drive-in restaurant, Ronny’s, where she was a waitress and I was a carhop.

On roller skates.

Like you can see if you watch reruns of the old TV show “Happy Days”.

Ronny’s was known for its footlong hot dogs, filled with cheese and wrapped in bacon, then deep fried. The creator of that delicious and unhealthy concoction was Ruby-Bee, a short order cook from Tennessee who could cuss like a truck driver and liked to give everyone pet names. Maybe that’s how Flo became Flo-Bell. I don’t remember. That was too long ago.

When she gets here, I’ll ask Flo if she remembers, but she might not. When we talk on the phone, she keeps reminding me that she’s a year older than me and therefore has lost the use of more gray matter than I have.

My girlfriend has always had a wicked sense of humor. She also had a memorable old car that I wrote about in my humorous memoir, A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck.

Old cars hold a certain charm for many people, and it’s always fun to remember the cars of our youth. One of the classic clunkers of all time had to be the one my best friend owned way back in the era of “Happy Days” for real. It was a 1952 Plymouth that had seen better days by 1951, and it offered the option of air conditioning long before the automobile companies even thought of putting it on their list of extras, let alone making it standard equipment.

Most of the floorboard in front was gone, and the seat was anchored to two-by-fours placed strategically across the chassis. That was terrific for ventilation in the summer, but held less appeal in Michigan winters when the cold air and snow blew up through the gaping hole that should have been covered by the floorboard. But what did we care? We were young and hearty, and we owned snow boots.

Back then, we drove clunkers out of necessity. At least the folks I knew did. None of my friends, or neighbors, came from “means” so we acquired wheels the best way we could. Most of our cars were barely held together with chewing gum and rubber bands, and they threatened to die at each stop sign, yet we would rather get rid of the family dog than part with a cherished old car.

My friend’s Plymouth was just such a car. Even though it’s only redeeming quality was the fact that it would get us where we wanted to go, and most of the time get us back again, she loved it. One of the most interesting features of this car, besides the fender that I would have to pick up from the pavement every time we stopped at a traffic light, were the gaping holes in the front floorboard. Not having a floor gave us a false sense of security in that we figured if the brakes ever gave out, we could still stop the car by dragging our feet.

And did I mention that we had great air-conditioning in the summer?

But winters were grueling if we forgot our fur-lined boots.

Entering and exiting this vehicle took a certain amount of stage managing and skill. One did not simply open the door, get in and sit down: First of all, because the doors wouldn’t open ninety percent of the time. Secondly, because the first person in had to balance the seat on the two by four for the next person. Otherwise, the seat would rock, throwing the passenger through the hole, and her cries for help would never be heard above the sound of an engine hitting on four out of eight.

If you enjoyed this excerpt and would like to read more stories of venerable old cars, read chapter twenty-one of A Dead Tomato Plant And a Paycheck. 

Now, I’ve got to go finish preparing for Flo’s visit. I’ve got the guest room ready for her, but she might appreciate it if I clean the rest of my house before she comes. And I have to get some writing-related business taken care of so I can pretty much take next week off. She’s coming on Friday, and I’m so excited.

Whatever you have planned for this week, stay safe and stay well.

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0

Friday Read and Friday Fun

Posted by mcm0704 on January 22, 2021 |

Well, Friday sort of snuck up on me, and just as quickly went away. Not completely here in NE Texas, but in other parts of the country, and the world, it’s already Saturday. Still, I want to do Friday Reads and Friday Fun to kick off the weekend for the rest of us who still have a bit of Friday left.

First, the Friday Reads

I just put my nonfiction book, The Many Faces of Grief: Stories of Love, Loss, and Hope From a Hospital Chaplain up for pre-order at Amazon. I spent 30+ years in hospital ministry, first as a volunteer through my church, then on staff of a hospital after completing 4 units of Clinical Pastoral Education. The stories in the book feature many of the people who graced my life with their lives, and the primary focus is on the love and hope displayed by families.

It’s also partly a memoir of my journey from eager young minister ready to help to fully understanding the role of a chaplain.

Check it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Friday Fun is from humorist Slim Randles. Enjoy…

      A new year. A new start. Who said I can’t finish this book?

Dud Campbell walked the frozen sidewalk and blew steamy breath out through his parka hood.

All I need, really, are a few ideas.

Dud’s been working on his novel, “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms,” for several years now, and it has taken on different blends of seasoning, largely depending on what things were happening here in our little valley.

For example, the bizarre romantic connection between Dewey and Emily led to a rewrite of the part where the book flashed back many years to when the Duchess and the Truck Driver first met.

And when the Truck Driver’s son met the Duchess’s daughter, 20 some years later, it was the courtship of Randy Jones and Katie Burchell that he patterned that after.

What is still left to solve, however, is what happens when the Truck Driver and the Duchess discover that their children are sweet on each other, because the kids happen to be half brother and sister.

And then, the guys at the coffee shop wanted to know why the Truck Driver, an American truck driver, was there driving below the Duchess’s castle in Europe. At first he was just calling it a special assignment, but the guys wanted to know what the special assignment was, and did he have to change his name for it, and was he armed, and did theme music play when he shifted gears.

Dud had already killed off a few characters early on in the book, so he believed he was under no obligation to bump off any more, but then the book is called “Murder in the Soggy Bottoms,” (which his friends think sounds like wet diapers) and the soggy bottoms are back in the good ol’ U.S. of A. and how was he going to get the Duchess and her daughter across the foaming tide?

And as he walked and thought, he asked himself if really good writers like Balzac and Max Evans had to struggle like this. He nodded and smiled to himself.

Sometimes I’ll bet they just wanted to sit down, open a beer, and watch football.

Hey, not a bad idea.

Art does exact its price.

In memory of my mentor, pard and good friend, Max Evans. He used to “fist fight for fun.” Thankfully, not with me.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page 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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2

Book Blog Tour: Comfort Foods by Kimberly Fish

Posted by mcm0704 on January 21, 2021 |

Comfort Foods

A  Comfort Stories

Stand-Alone Novel

by

Kimberly Fish

Categories: Contemporary / Second-Chance Romance
Publisher: Fish Tales Publishing
Date of Publication: October 7, 2020
Number of Pages: 385 pages
Scroll down for Giveaway!

From the award-winning author of Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs comes a story of two rising stars blitzed by social media. Lacy Cavanaugh and single-dad Rudy Delgardo live a hundred miles apart but meet in the worst possible way. Working at a weekly paper and creating social media for area businesses helps Lacy connect with locals who open her mind to a perspective beyond Instagram. In launching a food-and-wine festival to support Comfort’s new event center, she discovers surprising skills bubbling over, much like the food she’s attempting to cook.

Rudy, on the brink of his restaurant’s takeover, struggles to improve time management so he can create a better relationship with his daughter. Distracted by Lacy and her invitation to the festival, he’s tempted by her beauty, wit, and courage, but as a chef, he rarely gets to enjoy life outside the kitchen. Enemies, illness, and exes add unwelcome spice to the dish they’re concocting—one that will teeter with misunderstanding until the very end.

Will Lacy and Rudy embrace their second chances and discover the perfect seasonings of family, resilience, and grace to create a handwritten recipe of love that will stand the test of time?

What a wonderful story.
From the madcap moments, to the tender moments, I was thoroughly engaged. I loved the characters because they were so real. Lacy, a former beauty queen, could have been all full of herself, but she wasn’t. Rudy, as an award-winning chef, could have also been egotistical and stand-offish, but  he wasn’t They were both wonderful characters with many layers to their personalities.

 

Then there was Luna, Rudy’s daughter who thought Lacy was Cinderella the first time they met. Luna almost stole the story, especially when paired with Rudy-Tootie, the stray mutt that showed up at the most inopportune times.

 

As I read, I highlighted a sentence or two that was so nicely penned, I wanted to read them again, and I marked so many that I can’t include them all. Here are just a few.

 

“Driving back and forth to Abilene had put miles on his soul.” What a terrific way to show the depth of Rudy’s love for his daughter and the anguish he felt for how difficult his ex was making things.

 

“The worst is never the worst.” A sage bit of advice from Lacy’s landlady, Gloria, who has become a close friend and confidant.

 

“And her dearest hope was to meet a man who’d fall in love with her before he Googled her name.” That speaks volumes about how much Lacy wishes to move past what happened that sent her to Comfort in the first place. To me, that was the first step she was taking in her character arc.

 

If all the stories set in Comfort Texas are as good as this one, Ms. Fish has just acquired a new fan. Comfort Food is a true love story that appeals to this curmudgeon who is tired of romance novels that are all about the sex. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against sex. I’ve just always thought it was more tantalizing to see lovers exchange an unmistakable look, then go to the bedroom and shut the door.

 

I highly recommend this book, as well as the others from Comfort, Texas.

Author Kimberly Fish resides in Longview, Texas, and enjoys writing contemporary fiction set in the Hill Country. During the seven years she lived in San Antonio, wandering in and around Comfort, Texas, provided endless space for her imagination to develop stories of women discovering their grit. She studied the small Texas town that had seemingly dug its heels into the limestone and refused modern development and thought that was fertile ground for stories about women remodeling their lives. It made a juxtaposition of place and purpose that was hard to ignore. Plus, anything that takes intentional effort has a much higher value than the things that come easily—Comfort personifies this, and the novels remind readers that anything worth having is worth the work.

Comfort Foods is the third full-length novel in the set, Fiction from the Texas Hill Country, and follows behind the award-winning novels Comfort Plans and Comfort Songs. A novella, Emeralds Mark the Spot, is available as a free eBook download to subscribers of the incredibly sporadic newsletter at kimberlyfish.com and is the original story from which all other Comfort novels grew.

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1/12/21 Guest Post Hall Ways Blog
1/12/21 Review Sydney Young, Stories
1/13/21 Excerpt Forgotten Winds
1/14/21 Review Jennie Reads
1/14/21 Author Interview Texas Book Lover
1/15/21 Review The Clueless Gent
1/16/21 Review Jennifer Silverwood
1/17/21 Guest Post All the Ups and Downs
1/18/21 Review Momma on the Rocks
1/18/21 Character Interview StoreyBook Reviews
1/19/21 Review Book Bustle
1/19/21 Guest Post That’s What She’s Reading
1/20/21 Review Carpe Diem Chronicles
1/21/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
1/21/21 Review Bibliotica
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5

Introducing Ely Air Lines on Tour

Posted by mcm0704 on January 19, 2021 |

 

ELY AIR LINES

Select Stories from 10 Years

of a Weekly Column

Volumes 1 & 2

by

MIKE ELY AND

LINDA STREET-ELY

Genre: Nonfiction

Categories: Short Stories / Short Stories / Aviation

Publisher: Paper Airplanes Publishing, LLC

Date of Publication: January 29, 2020

Number of Pages: Volume 1:350, Volume 2: 330 pages

Scroll down for Giveaway!

Buckle up and fly with Mike and Linda Ely to discover amazing people, interesting places, and the conquest of flight. Since 2007, readers have enjoyed engaging articles in the weekly newspaper column, Ely Air Lines. Now you can step aboard to enjoy a collection of stories that explore the vast realm of the flyer’s world.

CLICK TO PURCHASE!

Volume 1 on AmazonVolume 2 on Amazon

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  from

ELY AIR LINES: SELECT STORIES FROM

10 YEARS OF A WEEKLY COLUMN, VOLUME 1

“A Picture of Courage”

Linda: I met Chris Sullivan as a fellow cross-country air racer in 2016. It was his first race, and he was admittedly nervous.

“I’d always wanted to learn to fly. When I discovered Able Flight, I submitted my application for a scholarship and was selected to come to Purdue University for training.”

Chris’ first flight was in May 2014 in a Sky Arrow, an aircraft equipped with adaptive rudder controls, when he entered Able Flight’s intensive training course nine years after being hit by sniper fire.

It was May 21, 2005. The 256th Infantry Brigade, Louisiana Army National Guard, had been tasked with locating and disarming IEDs just outside Baghdad Airport. As the team worked carefully, the enemy watched. Suddenly, bullets flew, one entering Chris’ neck and exiting his back.

Nobody else was hit. Sergeant Sullivan lay on the ground, bleeding from his neck. He couldn’t move or speak. His vocal cords burned but he felt no pain; the sniper’s bullet had severed his spine. His squad frantically laid down suppression fire and attempted to evacuate him. They were doing their job, just as they had been trained.

Carried to safety behind a Humvee, Chris could hear the radio. Apache helicopters were needed to blanket the area with more suppression fire for Blackhawk helicopters to swoop in for the rescue, but the Apaches were on other missions. He knew they were too far to reach him before he bled to death, but he wasn’t afraid.

He prayed, “Lord, if it’s time to bring me home, I’m okay with that, but I will fight it as long as I can because I have so much more to do.” Unable to speak well, he smiled, hoping it would calm his buddies as his blood spilled out.

Then, over the radio squelched the news: two Apaches were within three miles and on their way, hot and heavy—fully loaded with ammo!

God didn’t bring Chris home to heaven that day, and so began the long, painful road to recovery. Knowing his company would return from deployment in three-and-a-half months, he wanted to greet them, so he asked the doctors for an aggressive rehab plan. That reunion stateside was a great motivator, but once back home in Mire, Louisiana, doubt and fear prowled around him as he fought against post-traumatic stress. What was his purpose, now that he was paralyzed?

Chris found his purpose in helping veterans through the Veterans Administration, with empathy that only someone who has been there can have. Four years later, he joined Louisiana State Representative Rodney Alexander’s staff as a caseworker for wounded warriors.

He shared his story at fundraisers and despite his paralysis, he learned to scuba dive, went skydiving, and became a National Veterans Wheelchair Games silver medalist in snow skiing. And on the second anniversary of being wounded, our hero began dating his future wife, later witnessing another miracle—the birth of their son.

Chris worked hard at Able Flight, in ground school several hours a day and flying twice daily. Then, the night before his check ride, he fell ill with an infection that spread to his bones. Courageously, he fought back for a month and after a full recovery, he returned to Purdue to earn his wings.

Only two years after his first flight, he climbed out of his wheelchair and into the cockpit. The day was hot, so friends helped drape ice-cold cloths on his neck because his body couldn’t regulate temperature.

Engines started, props turned, and airplanes taxied to the runway. There in the Sky Arrow, eleven years after facing death in war, Chris Sullivan taxied in line and looked down the row of race planes. A tear came as he took the starting line, throttled up, and became: a race pilot. The trophy awarded to him symbolizes so much more than finishing first in his class in that race. It is the fight he wins every day and, “as long as I can, because I have so much more to do.”

What an incredible story. Thanks so much for sharing it, Linda.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mike Ely has logged thousands of hours over more than forty years as a professional pilot. He holds an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings and a flight instructor certificate. Mike has taught people to fly in small single engine airplanes, gliders, turboprops, and corporate jets. As a freight pilot and an international corporate pilot, he has flown through all kinds of weather, to many places, both exotic and boring. His love for writing was instilled by his father at an early age.

Linda Street-Ely is an award-winning, multi-genre author and playwright. She also holds an airline transport pilot certificate, a commercial seaplane certificate and a tailwheel endorsement. She has air raced all over the U.S., including four times in the historic all-women’s transcontinental Air Race Classic. Besides flying, Linda has a keen appreciation for great storytelling. She loves to travel the world, meet people, and learn about other cultures because she believes great stories are everywhere.

Together, Linda and Mike are “Team Ely,” five-time National Champions of the Sport Air Racing League, racing their Grumman Cheetah, named the “Elyminator,” and dubbed “The Fastest Cheetah in the Known Universe.” They live in Liberty, Texas.

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1/19/21 Excerpt It’s Not All Gravy
1/20/21 Review V1 Jennie Reads
1/20/21 Review V2 Librariel Book Adventures
1/21/21 Guest Post Forgotten Winds
1/22/21 Review V1 StoreyBook Reviews
1/22/21 Review V2 Reading by Moonlight
1/23/21 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
1/24/21 Author Interview The Adventures of a Travelers Wife
1/25/21 Review V1 Book Bustle
1/25/21 Review V2 Book Fidelity
1/26/21 Excerpt The Page Unbound
1/27/21 Character Interview Hall Ways Blog
1/27/21 Top Ten Momma on the Rocks
1/28/21 Review V1 The Clueless Gent
1/28/21 Review V2 Chapter Break Book Blog

 

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0

Celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr

Posted by mcm0704 on January 18, 2021 |

Today we honor Martin Luther King, Jr. Some people don’t think any more of the day other than the fact that it is a holiday and a day off work. Other people are irritated that there is yet another holiday to inconvenience them by closing banks, the postal service, and other government offices.

Thank goodness, there are many more who recognize the importance of what he accomplished in his lifetime and the need to celebrate and honor that.

King was not a perfect man. Like all men, he had his strengths and his weaknesses. Most of those weaknesses were in his personal life, but in the public arena his strengths were many. He was an inspiring orator, an effective leader of men and women, and a force of significant change in our country. Which is why it is so important to teach our kids and grandchildren the legacy that King left us.

It was a bit distressing to me to wake up this morning and tune to one of the news podcasts I listen to while getting ready for the day, and there was no mention of the holiday.

Nothing on the news sidebar on Twitter either.

I was astonished.

Whatever we do as a country moving forward, we can’t let the legacy of men like King and Rosa Parks and John Lewis and so many others who set us on a course of civil rights activism that we so sorely needed end.

As we recognize the systemic racism that has plagued our country for too long, let us continue to work to bring King’s dream to fruition.

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0

Friday Reads and Friday Fun

Posted by mcm0704 on January 15, 2021 |

A friend sent me this meme, and I thought it perfect to share today on the blog. Between the pandemic, the horror that was the attack on the Capitol Building last week, and the tension over what is coming next, I am so glad that I have a cat, or two, or three, or four to sit on my lap and purr. I can always feel my blood pressure go down when one of them has settled in for a nap, and I can feel the soft rumble of the purr.

My book, Evelyn Evolving, is on sale for only .99 through January 17 for Kindle and Kindle apps. If you haven’t yet read this story of my mother’s life, now is a good time to get it at the discounted price.

Here’s what one reviewer said about the story:

“After finishing Evelyn Evolving, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. The beginning concentrates on the life of Evelyn’s mother, a woman who consistently makes bad decisions, including abandoning her two daughters to a Catholic orphanage run by cruel nuns. At that point, the book reads like a Dickens novel in the harsh and brutal treatment of the young sisters, especially Evelyn. Based on a real person, the author Maryann Miller’s mother, we see how religion, guilt, and the belittling she encountered as a child follows her through life, in her marriage and ultimately how she deals with her own children.”

For some Friday fun, I went back in my archives and found this guest post from a humor writer, Tracy Farr, not to be confused with the New Zealand novelist Tracy Farr.

Tracy number one used to be a regular columnist for me when I was the managing editor of the online community magazine, WinnsboroToday.com. Like Slim Randles, Tracy was gracious enough to share his humor with me after the magazine shut down. More of his writing can be found on his website, The Farr Place. 

And he’s written a funny book Chasing America, chronicling his summer spent riding the roads from East to West and back home again on his motorcycle.

Now, here’s his post from 2008:

Hello, my name is Tracy, I’m addicted to Peanut M&Ms, but I haven’t had any for 13 hours and 22 minutes.

“Hello Tracy, and welcome to the group.”

Thanks. To be honest, I was reluctant to come here at first because I didn’t actually think I had a problem. I thought I could control my desire to eat Peanut M&Ms by myself, but I was wrong.

“Tell us your story, Tracy. You’re among friends.”

Well, I can say I’m luckier than most. Some kids are born with the need to eat M&Ms because their mothers ate M&Ms while they were pregnant. Even though the doctors warn and often beg these mothers to stop eating M&Ms during pregnancy, they don’t listen. And then they have M&M babies — newborns just twitching with the need to eat something round and chocolate. Luckily, that was not my case.

For me, my addiction started when I was quite young. I was hooked the first time I saw M&Ms, tore open a package and let them melt in my mouth and not in my hands. Those were just the plain chocolate kind — the kind kids love — but as I grew older and my tastes grew more mature, I naturally gravitated to Peanut M&Ms.

The first time I popped a Peanut M&M, my universe just sort of exploded with new possibilities. I could see things more clearly. I could understand things that I never understood before. It was like my senses were attuned to higher and more sensitive levels. And once you pop one, you have to pop another to keep that high going.

It wasn’t long before I found myself buying a bag of Peanut M&Ms and eating the entire thing without even realizing it. And I’m not talking about the little $1 bag you get out of a vending machine. I’m talking about the family-size, six-pound bag that costs almost $12 and should last a lifetime.

It finally hit me that I had a problem when my little girl said she needed new shoes and I told her I didn’t have any money, when in fact I did. I was saving that money to score me another bag of M&Ms before the weekend. And that’s why I’m here at this meeting.

I’ve tried stopping cold turkey, but it’s just too hard. I figured with help, and with belonging to a group of people who have suffered through the same problem and survived, that maybe I, with support, could pick myself up, dust myself off, and start all over again.

But, maybe I should start slowly. Maybe I should only eat a small bag a day and ease off this addiction gradually.

Maybe this was a bad idea.

Is there a vending machine around here?

And can somebody loan me a dollar?

That’s all for today, folks. I do hope you have a good weekend, safe from the COVID virus. And I pray that there is no more violence in our country in the coming week. Be happy, be well.

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0

The Joke’s On…?

Posted by mcm0704 on January 14, 2021 |

Where I live it’s late Wednesday afternoon, or early evening depending on how you look at the clock, so it’s still officially Hump-Day and always a good day to have Slim Randles as my guest. I won’t bore you with the details of what kept me out of my office most of the day. 

Well, I can bore you with the good part of the day. One of my sons came and changed my furnace filters. They’d been whining and wheezing for days, even keeping me awake at night. All is quiet now, and I had a nice visit with my son after the chores were done. 🙂 Pie was involved. 

Grab a cup of coffee and join up with Slim and the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop.

 

“What a great winter morning, guys,” said Doc, seating himself at the philosophy counter and flipping his cup to the upright and fillable position. “Makes a guy glad to be alive.”

We all nodded and sipped.

“Say Doc,” said Herb, “how’s old Chipper getting along these days?”

We all chuckled, because all the locals know Chipper was invented by Doc a few years back to be his very own imaginary squirrel. Yeah, Doc’s like that.

Doc laughed, too. “Hibernation, boys,” he said, “Sacked out ‘til spring. You should all get hibernating pets. They’re really easy to care for as long as they stay asleep.”

“And he’s all tucked in?” Steve wanted to know.

“Fluffy tail covering his face. The very picture of warm beds and happy dreams.”

“That’s good,” said Dud.

The man in the uniform stood up from his place over in the booth and walked over to the counter. “Excuse me, sir, but are you Doc?”

Doc nodded.

“Doc that has the squirrel?”

“Well, yes,” he said.

“I’m the new game warden here and I’d like to see your squirrel permit, please.”

“Squirrel permit?”

“A civilian can’t keep a wild animal without first obtaining a permit. Otherwise, it’s a $500 fine.”

We sat in stunned silence, then Dud grinned and spoke up. “You boys haven’t met my cousin Jimmy yet, have you? He’s here for the weekend and I put him up to it.”

We made Dud buy the coffee. We all chipped in for Jimmy’s breakfast.

We’re lucky. Most cafes only serve food.

Brought to you by A Cowboy’s Guide to Packing the Backyard Horse by Slim Randles. Available now from Amazon.com.

Check out all of Slim’s award-winning books at his Goodreads Page 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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2

Book Blog Tour: The Black-Marketer’s Daughter by Suman Mallick

Posted by mcm0704 on January 11, 2021 |

THE BLACK-MARKETER’S DAUGHTER

by

Suman Mallick

Category: Contemporary / Literary Fiction / Multicultural

Publisher: Atmosphere Press

Date of Publication: October 13, 2020

Number of Pages: 166 pages

 

Zuleikha arrives in the US from Lahore, Pakistan, by marriage, having trained as a pianist without ever owning a real piano. Now she finally has one-a wedding present from her husband-but nevertheless finds it difficult to get used to her new role of a suburban middle-class housewife who has an abundance of time to play it.

Haunted by the imaginary worlds of the confiscated contraband books and movies that her father trafficked in to pay for her education and her dowry, and unable to reconcile them with the expectations of the real world of her present, she ends up as the central figure in a scandal that catapults her into the public eye and plays out in equal measures in the local news and in backroom deliberations, all fueled by winds of anti-Muslim hysteria.

The Black-Marketer’s Daughter was a finalist for the Disquiet Open Borders Book Prize, and praised by the jury as a “complicated and compelling story” of our times, with two key cornerstones of the novel being the unsympathetic voice with which Mallick, almost objectively, relays catastrophic and deeply emotional events, and the unsparing eye with which he illuminates the different angles and conflicting interests at work in a complex situation. The cumulative effects, while deliberately unsettling to readers, nevertheless keeps them glued to the pages out of sheer curiosity about what will happen next. 

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 PRAISE FOR THE BLACK-MARKETER’S DAUGHTER

“Mallick offers an impressively realistic depiction of a woman caught between tradition, family, and her own sense of empowerment.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“The Black-Marketer’s Daughter is a key-hole look at a few things: a mismatched marriage, the plight of immigrants in the U.S., the emotional toll of culture shock, and the brutal way Muslim women are treated, especially by men within their own community. Titling it—defining the heroine by her relationship to a man rather than as a woman in her own right—suggests how deeply ingrained that inequality can be.” ~ IndieReader Reviews 

“The Black-Marketer’s Daughter is the portrait of a woman who endures violence, intimidation, xenophobia and grief, and yet refuses to be called a victim. In this slender novel, Suman Mallick deftly navigates the funhouse maze of immigrant life in contemporary America—around each corner the possibility of a delight, a terror, or a distorted reflection of oneself.” ~ Matthew Valentine, Winner, Montana Prize for Fiction; Lecturer, University of Texas at Austin

Reading this book was a terrific way to gain insight and understanding of Muslim culture and traditions, and I really appreciated the opportunity to be immersed in a different way of life. I like this kind of story that helps broaden my worldview. It’s so important for us to understand each other and not just accept the stereotypes of people and cultures too often presented in news or on social media.

Zuleikha is not always a likable character if we look at her purely from the standpoint of how marriages operate in our Western culture. But as I read the book I realized I had to put aside my beliefs to appreciate why she acted the way she did.

The assault that caused her to miscarry was horrifying, but it showed so vividly the way women are treated in the Muslim culture. Zuleikha had shamed her husband by having an affair, and Iskander loses control, reacting the way men do in their home country. There, in Pakistan, she would be stoned for her transgression.

Even though I liked so much about this book I did think the writing was a little uneven in places. There was too much of what we sometimes call info dumping, where things were explained in such a way that it read a little bit like something one would read in a newspaper or magazine about the way the shelters for abused Muslim women are operated.

Other than that this is a really well done book. The writing is almost poetic in places, with a well-turned phrase that enables the reader to understand a character more fully or be immersed in the setting: “Zuleikha hurries into their house just as the winds begin to act drunk and disorderly, and then all of nature gets violently ill.” It was also very satisfying to follow Zuleikha’s growth as a character as she became stronger than she’d been at the beginning of the story. The conclusion couldn’t have been done any better.

 

 

Suman Mallick received his MFA from Portland State University and is the assistant managing editor of the quarterly literary magazine Under the Gum Tree. He lives in Texas.

 WEBSITE  TWITTER

 AMAZON  GOODREADS  INSTAGRAM 

 

 

CLICK TO VISIT THE LONE STAR LITERARY LIFE TOUR PAGE

FOR DIRECT LINKS TO EACH POST ON THIS TOUR, UPDATED DAILY,

or visit the blogs directly:

 

1/6/21 Promo Hall Ways Blog
1/7/21 Review The Clueless Gent
1/7/21 Guest Post Momma on the Rocks
1/8/21 Review Forgotten Winds
1/8/21 Author Interview All the Ups and Downs
1/9/21 Review Bibliotica
1/10/21 Excerpt Texas Book Lover
1/11/21 Author Interview That’s What She’s Reading
1/11/21 Review It’s Not All Gravy
1/12/21 Playlist Chapter Break Book Blog
1/13/21 Review StoreyBook Reviews
1/13/21 Scrapbook Page The Page Unbound
1/14/21 Author Interview KayBee’s Book Shelf
1/15/21 Review Reading by Moonlight
1/15/21 Review Missus Gonzo

 

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2

America In Chaos

Posted by mcm0704 on January 8, 2021 |

America Weeps

 

There’s a hashtag on Twitter that is gaining momentum, #countrybeforeparty, and I hope it continues. The behavior of our current president, as well as the horrible assault on the Capitol Building on January 6th, is a sad indicator of just how low some people will sink to wield their power. It also illustrates just how wide the divide between parties and people has become. That divide dictates and encourages behaviors and thinking that continues to push us apart when we should be coming together as people of one nation.

Thursday morning when I heard the news on The Daily Podcast of the breach of the Capital Building, I cried. Literally. The first time I’ve cried that hard since my husband died.

I felt like our country was dying.

Maybe it is.

We don’t know what hovers at the edge of sanity with these people who think it is their right to wreak such violence against the very institutions of our government.

These are truly scary and uncertain times. We don’t know how deep-seated the Trump loyalty is with these radical people who have swallowed his Kool-Aid. To be clear, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a cult on a national scale. Trump is the epitome of a cult leader. He fits so many of the criteria that I found while researching the book, Coping With Cults, that I wrote about destructive cults for the Rosen Publishing Group, including:

  • narcissistic thinking and behavior
  • a messiah complex
  • no tolerance for questions or criticism
  • a charismatic leader who becomes an object of worship
  • belief that he is above the law
A cult leader believes only in his or her own absolute power, which is something we’ve seen so much of in the past four years from Trump.

 

 

In an article in the Wall Street Journal that ran late Thursday online, journalist Gerald. F. Sieb offered this ray of hope.:
On the other hand, it’s possible that the sheer horror that most Americans felt, and that most Republicans expressed, at the scenes of mayhem will cause everyone to take a step back from divisive political behavior and look harder for common ground. It’s surely an exaggeration to say the Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol did Mr. Biden a favor, but they lent some new urgency to his calls to back away from the bitter politics of the last few years.

 

I certainly hope so.

 

While I have not always agreed with Mitch McConnell I must say that his leadership that fateful Wednesday afternoon was worth all the praise that it garnered. Even before the violence broke out, he took a stand in asking the members of Congress to stop the efforts to block the counting of the electoral votes. And he called upon president Trump to accept the results.

 

That is what true leadership is all about.

 

Shame on the senators who voted against certifying the votes of the Electoral College:
  • Sen. Ted Cruz
  • Sen. Josh Hawley
  • Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith
  • Sen. Roger Marshall
  • Sen. John Kennedy
  • Sen. Tommy Tuberville

Before signing off, I do want to say that it was my fervent hope that 2021 would be a year in which I wouldn’t find things to rant about on the blog. I was planning a whole different approach to content, but, well, shit happens and I can’t hold back the thoughts and opinions that swirl around my head.

Before what happened Wednesday, I was going to post a blog with fun facts about cats, but in all honesty, I have no heart for fun or jokes as I type this post on a late Thursday evening in preparation for posting Friday morning.

I do hope you are in a better frame of mind, and if you’d like to weigh in on this topic, please do. I only ask that you keep comments civil and polite.

Stay safe. Stay well.

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