It’s Not All Gravy

Musings on Life and Writing

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Let’s Write a Story

Posted by mcm0704 on October 18, 2019 |

Okay, I don’t know about you, but I need a distraction from the horrible mess in Syria, thanks to the man who thinks pulling the troops out was a brilliant idea. Not to mention the horrible mess in Washington.

So, today I decided to do something new on the blog. Actually, I thought about doing this the other day when I was out walking. Every day I take the same route around the neighborhood that passes by this abandoned house. Somebody comes to mow the yard now and then, but otherwise nobody is ever around.

The writer in me often wonders about who had lived there. What was their story? It must have been someone who loved flowers as much as I do. These are just some of the flowers that have popped up around the yard, despite being untended, and I’ve enjoyed stopping to take photos when I see a new one. This yellow beauty being the latest.

 

I thought it might be fun to write a story about who might have lived there and why they had to move away. Then I thought it would be even more fun if writing the story was a collaborative group effort. So I encourage you to add to my story, or write your own in a comment. Let’s keep this going for a while and see what we can come up with.

This old house has always reminded me of the house in Kansas that got taken up in the tornado and dropped Dorothy in the land of Oz. But what if the tornado hadn’t taken her back to Kansas? Instead the winds blew her into the land of Northeast Texas, house and all. Bringing a few of the flower-Munchkins with her.

The place is close to the RR right-of-way, so there aren’t many neighbors to wonder why a house showed up. Maybe Dorothy was happy living there, even though she missed her Aunt Em. But the Good Witch would come frequently to bring her food and fairy dust to bring the flowers to life.

During the day, Dorothy tended the flowers, feeding and watering with tender loving care. But in the deep of night, when neighbors slept and could not be alarmed at flowers that turned into little people, Dorothy used the fairy dust to bring the flowers to life. She would dance and sing and laugh with the Munchkins until the sun started to peek over the tops of the trees. Then the little people would revert back to flowers, their blooms dancing in the gentle breezes.

This might have gone on for years and years until Dorothy started to feel the pain of arthritic joints and see the gray take over her hair. While the magic of Munchkins lives forever, alas, it isn’t the same for people, and Dorothy slipped away

Now, every year, the flowers pop up in memory of Dorothy and to honor her for the loving care she gave them.

Okay, whose next? Who wants to say what happens to the flowers and the old house next? Or maybe come up with a new story-line?

If there’s enough participation, I’ll have my cat pull a name out of a hat and give the lucky winner a copy of one of my books – their choice as to title and format. If paperback is chosen, I can only send to addresses in the U.S.

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To Squash or Not. That is the Question

Posted by mcm0704 on October 16, 2019 |

To those of you who read Sunday’s review and came here expecting a guest post from Ken K, I apologize. There was a mixup in communications from me to his PR rep and then to him, and the post never came to me. Perhaps he will send it another time. Still I’m sure you’ll enjoy this offering from our semi-regular Wednesday’s Guest, Slim Randles. 

I don’t think he likes squash. 🙂 But some of us do, especially acorn squash sprinkled with brown sugar and holding a puddle of butter in the center.

You can get a great recipe for cooking acorn squash from this website: https://www.spendwithpennies.com/how-to-cook-acorn-squash/

If you’re like me and enjoy squash, help yourself.

Squash. Just listen to that word one more time. Squash … one of the English language’s most painful words, along with maim and trauma and rend and okra and Liberace. Why would anyone want to eat something that sounds as though someone sat on it?

The bottom-line truth is, cooks all over the place love a challenge, and they have tried valiantly to turn squash into an edible dish. To do this, they take one tenth of a portion of squash, boil as much of the squashiness as they can out of it, then immerse it in nine-tenths something that tastes good and hope no one will notice. You know, stuff like chile, mutton, edible vegetables, nuclear waste, cottonwood bark, bourbon, and even chocolate. Then, when you can’t taste the squash in it, and most of the slime has settled to the bottom, they smile and say, “How do you like my ‘Squash Canneloni ala Hershey con Brio?”

Let’s face it; squash is an unwanted growth on an otherwise perfectly good vine. It starts with a pretty little blossom that inspires Navajo jewelry and attracts bees. Then it begins its insidious malignancy into something that should probably be surgically removed.

“I’m sorry Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” says the surgeon, “your squash is in an area that is impossible to reach without endangering the life of the vine. Your vine is pretty much doomed to produce something that – when cooked properly – will still gag a sick dog off a gut truck.”

They even try to fool people who might consider buying squash into thinking it tastes like something else. Something like butter. Or acorns. Or crooked necks. Makes you wonder what crime against mankind Mr. Zucchini committed to be forever more squash-damned in the history books.

But it’s fall now. Autumn … that time of year when children play in the lazy sunshine and squash vines go belly up. And when we enjoy our pumpkin pie and jack o’lanterns, we’ll smile quietly, knowing we’ll once again be squash free for a few blessed months.

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

Brought to you by Merrick Pet Care  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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Book Review – Midheaven by Ken Kuhlken

Posted by mcm0704 on October 13, 2019 |

Midheaven
Ken Kuhlken
ISBN-10: 1719585776
ISBN-13: 978-1719585774
Publisher: CreateSpace
August 14, 2018, 286 pages
Genre: Christian fiction

BOOK BLURB  Midheaven, Ken Kuhlken’s first novel, was originally published by Viking Press. The haunting story, set in and around the exquisite Lake Tahoe basin, is told through the mind of a precocious seventeen-year-old torn between her quest for God and her love for a man. In the early 1970’s, high school senior Jodi McGee turns from drugs and boys to Christ, but soon thereafter falls for her English teacher, Philip. As a result, tragedies test her will, her faith, and her sanity.

REVIEW:  According to astrological charts, the Midheaven is the highest point in a birth chart that gives clues to our aspirations. It’s also known as the Medium Coeli, or MC, and is our reputation in the eyes of society, as well as the ways we go about earning it. When I read that definition, it instantly became clear why Kuhlken chose the title. It also helped me to clearly see and understand the internal tension between Jodi’s faith and her actions.

While some Christian fiction can be a little heavy-handed with preaching and/or giving testimony, this story is clearly not. Geoff, the character who first introduces Jodi to The Bible and encourages her to read it and give her heart to Jesus, comes across as a bit of a fanatic, and I was not drawn to his message or his way of being a Christian. I liked the fact that Jodi was able to step back from becoming a fanatic and was more open to embracing everyone, despite their sins or faults or lack of religious beliefs.

Contrasting Jodi’s way of living her faith with that of Philip’s mother, was deftly done, and I was rooting for Philip to be able to escape the strangle-hold of his mother and her rigid Christian beliefs. I just didn’t expect, or imagine, how that escape would take place.

This is a book of many layers – family relationships, spirituality, romance, poverty, drug use, gambling addiction, abuse, and emotional crisis – and the author doesn’t hold back on any of them. There are tender scenes of love so poignant it made my heart ache, then scenes of such terrible tragedies that my heart cried. Still, I enjoyed every character and every word in the book.

The descriptions in the book are just stunning in places, and firmly put the reader on the mountain or on the beach at Lake Tahoe. “The meadow is a quilt of snapdragons, crimson columbine, and wild daisies up the bank to the road.”

My only disappointment was that the ending was so abrupt. There was a hint of a satisfying ending to the book, but I wanted that hint to be a little more. Which it is in the next book. This is the first book in a trilogy, so I guess people who read trilogies or long series that don’t wrap up a story until the last book, are okay with abrupt endings. And if you are one of those readers, there will be nothing in this book to disappoint you.

For everything else in the story, I highly recommend the book.

BUY LINK   (All outlets for the e-book)

PAPERBACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Some of Ken’s favorites are early mornings, the desert in spring, kind and honest people, baseball and other sports played by those who don’t take themselves too seriously, most kids, and films he and his daughter Zoe can enjoy together. He reads classic novels, philosophy, theology, and all sorts of mysteries. On his blog, he offers some hard truths and encouragement about living as a writer. He has long been the author of novels, stories, articles, poems, and essays. Lots of honors have come his way, including a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship; Poets, Essayists and Novelist’s Ernest Hemingway Award; Private Eye Writers of America Best First Novel and Shamus Best Novel; and several San Diego and Los Angeles Book Awards.Though he advocates beer in a video, he actually prefers Scotch.

He also posts regularly on his own blog, and sort of preaches for Perelandra College.

Do come back on Wednesday when Ken will be my guest.

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Medicine the Asian Way

Posted by mcm0704 on October 9, 2019 |

When it comes to guest posts, this one is interesting. Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s guest with a guest post on his Home Country column from Windy Wilson. It’s sort of like playing with those Russian dolls that have one inside another and another and another. Never fear, though. It’s just me and Slim and Windy trying to confuse you today.

It is finally cooling off here in Northeast Texas and was actually quite nippy when I took my morning walk with my dog, Dusty. He seemed to like the chill in the air as he trotted along with a bit more energy than he had in the heat of summer.

When we came home, Dusty had a Milkbone and I made a cup of hot tea. Now’s the time for it hot instead of iced. Have a cup yourself and enjoy Slims’, er, Windy’s offering…

Wellsir, I ast ol’ Slim if mebbe I could contribulate to his Home Country columns if I ever had something important to renounce. And he said he wanted to go hunting, anyway, so why not now.

So howdy. This here’s Windy Wilson, you know. I’m the guy on the Home Country with Slim Randles radio show what edumacates folks to stuff they ain’t heard the straight of before.

I timed ‘er just right the other day. Strolled on into the Mule Barn when I knew Doc and the guys would be there. Then … to take advantage of medicational science when it’s sippin’ coffee, I rolls up my sleeve and shows Doc my elbow.

Then I said, “Doc, what do you reckermend for a elbow with a carbolic uncle on it like this here?”

And ol’ Doc, he looks right at me, takes a sip o’joe, and says, “Youth in Asia.”

Youth in Asia? Hey, you know me, I ain’t got a thing against them Chinese kids. I sure like to watch ‘em in the Olympics. You see them Chinese girls diving? Boy howdy! And them Korean guys shootin’ their bows? Flamtastic!

And I’m sure they’re all really nice folks ‘n all, but what do them kids know about elbows?

So I undulated to the library and ast if they had anythin’ on fixin’ elbows in China or Japan or Korea or Cambloodia, or any a them Asian countries. Mrs. Cutter looked at me kinder weird, but brought me back a book on Asia medicine and I checked ‘er out.

You know what them guys do when they got a misery or a stove-up in a certain place? They stick pins in it! Knowed you wouldn’t believe me. But they do. They call it accurate puncher.

And if stickin’ a pin ain’t getting’ the job done, why they ups the ante ‘n puts a marshmeller on the top of the pin and sets it on fire!

Yessir.

I knowed ol’ Doc wouldn’t steer me wrong … so I did ‘er.

It hurt a little, but it was about like gettin’ a blackleg shot at branding, ‘cept on purpose a-course. But I sat there lookin’ at my elbow through all of Gunsmoke and that there carbolic uncle didn’t go away.

So I got me a marshmeller … yes, I did. Had some left over from Halloween, you know, last year. And I put one on that pin and ignitified it. Singed all the hair around my elbow, too.

Did it work? Not really. Mebbe you got to have a Asian elbow to get all the benerfits of it.

But that there marshmeller shore tasted good.

And you can tell ‘em I said so.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Brought to you by Merrick Pet Care  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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Book Review – The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley by Nina Romano

Posted by mcm0704 on October 6, 2019 |

The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley
Nina Romano
Print Length: 254 pages
Publisher: Prairie Rose Publications (February 21, 2019)
Publication Date: February 21, 2019
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
Language: English
ASIN: B07NP4GJZR

BOOK BLURB :   When Darby McPhee falls in love with Cayo Bradley, a wild cowboy from a nearby ranch, her world is ripped apart. Caught in a lifeless existence of caring for her father and brothers since her mother’s death, Darby does little else but work. But a death-bed promise to her mother to get her education now stands in the way of her heart’s desire to belong to the rough-and-tumble Cayo Bradley.

Darby is Cayo’s redemption from a horrific act in his past that torments him. After being captured as a young boy by the Jicarilla Apache, he now tries to settle back into white society—but how can he? If he loses Darby, he loses everything.

Darby is determined to keep her promise to her mother, but will Cayo wait for her? In this stunning tale of love and loss, Darby comes to understand that no matter what happens, she will always be THE GIRL WHO LOVED CAYO BRADLEY…

REVIEW: The story takes place in the mid to late1800s in New Mexico, and the details of place and history are well established, putting the reader firmly in the dusty plains or the rugged mountain areas. I also appreciated the opportunity to learn about the Jicarilla Apache, a tribe I was not familiar with. As Cayo, or Coyote his Indian name, finds his place in the tribe that kidnapped him, it is interesting to see the kindness of the Indians in some scenes, contrasted to the brutality of the murder of his parents. The tension that contrast creates in Cayo is palpable and it visits him often, bringing great anguish.

He was just sixteen when the Apaches raided the ranch where he lived with his parents and sisters. It was during that raid that he experienced what no boy of sixteen should ever have to go through.

The thing that haunts him still.

In the opening of the story, the reader meets Darby at her home where she is busy taking care of her brothers and her father. A small detail of characterization that made her endearing to me is when she is writing notes for the men on how to clean up after themselves when she is gone. She is going away, you see. Plans are already put in place for her to go to St. Louis to school.

But then there’s Cayo.

Darby didn’t plan to fall in love with this man nine years older than she. Still, she has, and now she struggles with the tension between her desire and her promise to her mother. That tension, and Cayo’s, is as deftly handled throughout the story as those details of setting and history.

Cayo Bradley won my heart the first time he and Darby made love. It was truly a love scene. Not just lust. Not just sex, but two people who really loved each other showing that through physical intimacy. Afterward, when he so gently and lovingly washed her and dried her, it was like a ritual of honor; and something so tender that here again, there was a stark contrast between the Cayo of today and the Connor of before.

“Cayo took her in his arms and touched her face with curled fingers and great tenderness, outlining her cheek and jaw as if he were a painter taking notes on what angle best to face her toward the sun.”

Then he says to her, “You’re like the breath in my body. And I sure as hell can’t tell myself to quit breathing now can I?”

This is a love story on one level, but so much more on many other levels; history, social mores, choices, and how those choices affect lives, often in the most unexpected ways. The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley is a book well worth your time.

BUY LINK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:  Nina Romano earned a B.S. from Ithaca College, an M.A. from Adelphi University and a B.A. and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from FIU. She lived in Rome, Italy, for twenty years, and is fluent in Italian and Spanish. She is a world traveler and lover of history–her novels, short fiction, and poetry reflect both travels and history.

She has authored a short story collection, The Other Side of the Gates, and has published five poetry collections and two poetry chapbooks with independent publishers. She co-authored Writing in a Changing World. Romano has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize in Poetry.

Nina Romano’s historical Wayfarer Trilogy has been published from Turner Publishing. The Secret Language of Women, Book #1, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist and Gold Medal winner of the Independent Publisher’s 2016 IPPY Book Award. Lemon Blossoms, Book # 2, was a Foreword Reviews Book Award Finalist, and In America, Book #3, was a finalist in Chanticleer Media’s Chatelaine Book Awards.

Her latest novel, The Girl Who Loved Cayo Bradley, a Western Historical Romance, has recently been released from Prairie Rose Publications.

You can find out more about Nina and her books on her WEBSITE  and meet her at FACEBOOK ** TWITTER  and GOODREADS

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Mixing Up Dogs

Posted by mcm0704 on October 2, 2019 |

Slim Randles is here as today’s Wednesday’s Guest with a fun post about dogs. Sometimes I wonder if the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop just have too much idle time on their hands. Some of the conversation paths they wander down defy logic or reason, but the paths are always fun to travel with them. Grab a cuppa and enjoy…

“Labradoodles? Some lady in the city has Labradoodles,” Doc said, putting down the paper.

“Hope it isn’t catching,” said Dud.

We knew without being told what a Labradoodle was, of course. It meant that a good retriever got too close to one of those tippy-toe prancing fluffs and now there are puppies that need good homes. We’d been broken in to this world of mixing up breeds by cockapoos and peekapoos, so a genuine Labradoodle wasn’t that much of a stretch. At least it gave us something to talk about over coffee.

“You know,” said Doc, “if you were to cross Lassie with a Cardigan Welsh corgi, you could get a colling card.”

“You send that same corgi on a blind date with a shar-pei,” said Dud, “and you could end up with a bunch of card sharps.”

“This is getting bad … but now that you mention it, what if a half Yorki-half old English sheepdog got interested in a lonely papillon. You’d find yourself with yoroldpappis.”

The waitress was giving us looks like she needed our seats at the counter to be empty. Especially since the dog-combo disease was spreading.

“You take one of them Japanese Akitas,” said a guy from the truckers’ table, “and cross him with a Boston terrier, you’d get Akitaboston.”

“But what would it unlock?”

“A Scottish terrier and a great Dane would produce some Great Scotts,” Dud said.

“At least that would sound fairly good in a classified ad,” Doc added, nodding.

“OK,” said our waitress, finally succumbing to the downward spiral of waning intellect, “if you had a part saluki, part terrier and crossed it with a part bull mastiff and part Llasa apso, what would you get?”

“A litter with an identity crisis?

“No. You’d get a bunch of ap-saluki-terri-bulls.”

The groaning continued for minutes while we got refills.

“If one of them Australian dingos got crossed with those little Mexican dogs,” Dud said.

We looked at him and waited.

“Well?”

We shrugged.

“You’d get a dinkahuahua, of course.”

I think that’s when Doc hit him with the napkin.

At least when it was over, no one had suggested a tryst between a shih-tsu and a bulldog.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Brought to you by Merrick Pet Care  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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0

Understanding Impeachment #Mondayblogs

Posted by mcm0704 on September 30, 2019 |

Good Monday morning. I do hope everyone had a good weekend.  Yesterday I was able to get some writing done and then worked on the quilt I’m making for myself.

The centerpiece is a t-shirt from the town where one of my sister’s lives. The blue piece is from a shirt that my mother used to wear a lot. And the other piece is part of a towel that was a wedding present. My Uncle Henry came up the front walk of my father’s house carrying a large pile of bath towels, all different colors and patterns, and handed them over. It was the most unusual present my husband and I received, and somehow this one towel survived for over 50 years now. I decided it needed a place of honor.

IN THE NEWS 

Since the impeachment investigation is starting now in Congress, I wanted to understand a little more about the process and what constitutes an impeachable offense.

According to the Constitution, the President and Vice President, as well as all civil servants of the government, can be removed from office following an impeachment for treason, bribery or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Like many other Americans, I saw “misdemeanors” from a criminal justice viewpoint, but according to a report at CBN News, misdemeanors in the case of impeachment is different.

Here is just a bit from that report:

While treason and bribery seem relatively clear cut, the phrase “other high crimes and misdemeanors” is not.

That leads to serious questions about what constitutes an impeachable offense.

Thomas Jipping, a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation explained it for CBN News. “It is a little bit of an odd phrase, and those words might mean something to people today – they might hear the word misdemeanor and think that it’s a minor, little offense. But it’s a phrase that’s been around in the law both here and in England for a few hundred years actually.

“It identifies a category, a very narrow category of serious misconduct by a public official. Not necessarily criminal, but in a sense it’s an offense against the public trust, it’s an offense against the political system, it’s kind of a betrayal of the people in such a way that that official ought to be removed now.”

(More about how the impeachment process works from The Heritage Foundation)

There’s been plenty of misconduct, offenses against the political system, and betrayal of the people in recent years, and sadly that hasn’t been a new thing with Trump in office. He’s just taken it to new highs. Or lows.

Political corruption and betrayal are part of the plot of a television series Designated Survivor that I’ve been watching on Netflix. Since I’m not able to watch more than one or two episodes of a show, I tend to follow one straight through all episodes and I’m well into season two.

As a lower-level cabinet member, Tom Kirkman, the Housing and Urban Development secretary is the Designated Survivor when the president and most of the Cabinet are killed in a devastating attack on the night of the State of the Union address. Kirkman is promoted to leader of the free world. Thrust into his new position of power, he struggles to keep the country from dissolving into chaos.

The series stars Kiefer Sutherland as Kirkman, a character of high principles and moral integrity. He is mild-mannered at first, due to the shock of suddenly being president of the United States; and he reminds me of Jefferson Smith in the Frank Capra movie “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Both characters try to rise above the normal political maneuverings and games on Capital Hill, and that appeals to the idealist in me. I truly wish there was a real Jefferson Smith or Tom Kirkland who could also rise above.

Is there hope for that? What do you think about the impending impeachment hearings?

ON WRITING

I recently started reading a book that I just couldn’t get into. Not because of plot. There was a lot going on in the story, with a mystery looming. Not because of the lack of interesting characters. There were plenty. But I finally realized that the problem was the lack of motivation for actions. Things were happening, but they seemed to be happening more because the author wanted them to, rather than because the characters needed them to.

MOTIVE: a reason for doing something, especially one that is hidden or not obvious.
“a motive for his murder”

Here’s what writer and blogger Kristen Lamb has to say on the topic:

Motive is a key ingredient that differentiates stories that sizzle versus stories that fizzle, namely because we all want to know ‘WHY?’.

Why does a character want this or that? What drives them? Who would do such a thing? How did a character become a certain way? Can a character change?

A character’s central motive is the key that unlocks our interest. It’s less about what a character is doing or not doing and more about WHY. If we (the audience) don’t understand or can’t relate to a character’s motivation?

We can’t care.

This is why ‘white hat’ and ‘black hat’ characters are so dull. Humans can’t authentically connect to ‘wholly noble’ or ‘wholly evil’ characters who are for good simply because it’s ‘right’ or or evil ‘just because.’

Regardless what any character wants to achieve—or conversely, wants to avoid at all cost—we (readers) must understand and be able to empathize the underlying motive driving their choices.

Fiction, at its most fundamental level is always cause and effect. We can’t have effects without causes and if we do? Readers will call FOUL.

Check out her full blog post for more about motive.

Have you read a book recently that has poor motivation, or good motivation? Do share.

That’s all for me for today, folks. I hope today is the start of a great week for all. Be safe. Be happy.

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0

Impeachment Isn’t a Joke

Posted by mcm0704 on September 27, 2019 |

Good Friday morning. I hope this is the end of a good, productive week for everyone. Mine has been anything but. Too many appointments taking me away from my writing this week, but I did get a little bit done yesterday on the third book in the Seasons Mystery Series. If I dedicate most of my writing time next week to that book, I may have it finished. Wish me luck.

IN THE NEWS: Thursday morning, House Democrats had their first high-profile hearing since Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the beginning of a formal impeachment inquiry, as the House Intelligence Committee grilled Acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire for his handling of the whistleblower complaint regarding Trump’s quid pro quo.

The whistleblower complaint was unclassified and publicly released, providing critical context for Trump’s call with the Ukrainian president and Rudy Giuliani’s role in the scandal, as well as damning new details of a potential White House cover-up. (You can read the full complaint here.)

Thursday afternoon, the New York Times reported new details on the whistleblower’s identity, even as Trump issued threats to retaliate against those involved in the scandal. Enough Representatives have come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry that a majority of the House of Representatives now supports the inquiry.

FRIDAY FUN: First a couple of jokes from The Laugh Factory:

My friend thinks he is smart. He told me an onion is the only food that makes you cry, so I threw a coconut at his face.

Q: Is Google male or female?
A: Female, because it doesn’t let you finish a sentence before making a suggestion.

Now another post from Slim Randles. This is one he sent me in August that I didn’t use for the Wednesday’s Guest slot because I had authors as guests. Enjoy…

Delbert McLain dropped in at the Mule Barn yesterday for a quick cup. He was wearing his usual suit and tie, despite the heat. Usually Delbert does his coffee drinking and socializing out at the country club where the business guys go. We’ve been there, and the chairs don’t fit as well.

For the past ten years now, Delbert has run the local Chamber of Commerce. The capital letters are on purpose, because that’s how important it is to Delbert. We all have to admit he was a good choice. His job is to promote our town and the surrounding area, which he does by prowling through the town – his ample belly flying under a full spinnaker -looking for out-of-state plates on the cars during tourist season, and then convincing the visitors they should 1. live here forever, 2. hire locals to build them a huge house, and 3. start a business that will hire as many of us as they can stand.

According to Delbert, several things are certain about our area here: it’s the only place in the world that will grow, our water is so good we don’t need dentists except during our tourist season, the deer in the surrounding hills are easy to hunt and are the size of horses, the fish in Lewis Creek are so big children are afraid to swim there, and our average life expectancy is right around 104.

“Boys,” Delbert said with his constant grin, “it’s looking like a good season. I can’t tell all the details now, but it looks like we may be getting three factories and you know how many houses they’ll have to build out on the flats to hold all the employees.”

“Delbert,” said Doc, “you know they shouldn’t build out on the flats. That thing floods out about every six years.”

Delbert saddened there for just a minute as he stirred his coffee, then the sales gleam relit the surface of his face.

“That’s it!” he yelled. “We can call it ‘seasonal waterfront!’”
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brought to you by Merrick Pet Care  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.”

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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.

That’s all for me folks, I do hope you have a great weekend. Any plans? I’ll be home doing some writing on Saturday, then quilting on Sunday. Whatever your plans are, be happy, be safe.

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7

It’s Time For Hunting

Posted by mcm0704 on September 25, 2019 |

Every year when hunting season is upon us in many states, I always look forward to what Slim Randles and the guys at the Mule Barn Truck Stop have to say about their plans. I was never an avid hunter. I’d go along with whoever was venturing out, just for the experience of tramping through woods and learning about the quirks and movement of deer from hunters who knew such things. 

I did enjoy archery, and at one point joined an archery club at school. It was also always great fun to go out in the backyard of a neighbor family and practice shooting at a deer he had fabricated out of wire framing, and perhaps paper mache?  I don’t recall what the body was made of, but maybe my friend Jan will clue us in. It was her father who had the practice area in their yard.

It was her father who was also the best shot of us all, and he was the one who taught us all the hunting lore we needed to know.

All of the hunters I know, or have known, hunt for the sport, but more importantly, to put meat on the table. And venison ground with pork to make a sausage, is the best meat for chile I’ve ever used. 

So if anybody near me goes hunting this year… I’ll buy the pork sausage. 🙂

Okay, enough of me. Here’s Slim and the gang. Enjoy.

“Feel that crispness in the air this morning?” said Dud. “Just about time to go hunting, don’t you think?”

“I’m always ready,” said Steve, smiling. “I’ll go right after fall branding this year. But I’m going to be hunting differently this year.”

We all looked at Steve and waited.

“Well,” he said, “you know how different cultures and different countries have their own way of hunting, so I thought I might try one of those this year.”

“Whatcha have in mind, Steve?”

“The Swiss way,” he said. “You know … crossbow? William Tell? The Swiss way.”

“I’ll be using a regular bow again this year,” said Herb. “I really enjoy the earlier season and more time to shoot. I can practice with a target in the back yard every day.”

“Must be something in the coffee here this morning,” said Doc. “Everybody’s going for a new way … or old way … of hunting.”

“I’ll be going back in time myself this fall,” Phil said. “I’ve never used anything but a modern rifle, so this year I bought myself a muzzleloader. One shot. You just get one.”

“That’s a good challenge,” said Dud. “Now how about you, Doc? How will you be hunting this year?”

“Glad you asked, Dudley. Yes, I joined the trend myself this year, and I’ll be hunting deer by the Amish method.”

We looked at Doc. “Amish method?”

“Sure,” he said, grinning. “You just go out and find a buck you really like and build a barn around it.”
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Brought to you by The Fly Fisherman’s Bucket List.  In the book you’ll find more than a hundred top spots and tips on the best equipment to use. See it at www.riograndebooks.com.

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

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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6

Monday Musings

Posted by mcm0704 on September 23, 2019 |

So how was your weekend? I spent most of mine at the Art Fest, which is an annual event here in Sherman.  Every year, the Sherman Art League has a program connected to the festival in which there is a juried art show. I’d never participated in that type of show before, and one of the things that I really appreciated the most, besides all of the beautiful paintings and photographs, was the program offered by the judge at the reception the night before the show opened on Friday.

This is the photo that I entered in the show..

He commented about each picture that had received an award, telling the audience what he saw in the picture that he thought was highly creative and made that particular picture stand out from the others. He talked a lot about the use of contrast and color; and he also pointed out that what connects most viewers to a piece of visual art is the story that that a viewer can find in the images. I’d never thought of art quite that way before, but it makes perfect sense. Not that we all see the same story, but there is something there to which we connect, just like there is something in each book that speaks to us.

On Saturday, lots of people came through the ballroom at the Municipal Building to see the art, and I’m sure to enjoy the air conditioning. I met a lot of very nice folks, including this young boy. His mother had just bought one of my books, and he wanted his picture taken, too. He was quite impressed with someone who could write books, and I was quite impressed with the intelligent questions he asked about writing.

I wasn’t enjoying the AC as much as some folks, so the facilities director loaned me his jacket.

Okay here we go again. In 2016 it was Hillary, Trump, and the Russians. Today it’s Biden, Trump, and the Ukraine. In each case, there were smear campaigns on both sides trying to implicate the other in some nefarious activity that might even be illegal.

I don’t know about the rest of America but I’m very tired of all of the ugly rumors that surface, all the attacks, the response by the media, as well as the response by defenders of whichever wronged party they support. Rudy Giuliani acted like a bully last Thursday when he appeared on television and was interviewed by Chris Coumo. Giuliani started yelling and Coumo started yelling, and when I heard a clip of the interview, I just shook my head. These are supposed to be mature men?

You can read a story in the New York Times that has more details about that CNN interview.

Then today Trump spoke out at the United Nations, defending his phone call to the Ukraine and the content of that call. This was reported in The Washington Post:

Talking to reporters Monday morning at the United Nations, Trump suggested that there would be nothing wrong with him withholding funding to a country such as Ukraine if it refused to root out “corruption” — hypothetically speaking, of course.

“We’re supporting a country; we want to make sure that country is honest,” Trump said. “It’s very important to talk about corruption. If you don’t talk about corruption, why would you give money to a country that you think is corrupt? . . . So it’s very important that, on occasion, you speak to somebody about corruption.”

That’s enough about that whole mess. I need to change my focus to something else, so I think I’ll go color for a while. Here is a picture that I have waiting for me and my colored pencils.

I hope you have a wonderful, productive, and fun week. Be safe. Be happy.

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