My Crazy Life – The First Church of Southern Football re-opens its doors….August 29, 2011


            It’s almost September, and The First Church of Southern Football has re-opened its doors, and the faithful congregation is back in the fold. And, as anyone from the South will tell you, Saturday is considered a Holy Day around here.

            I began devouring my Southern Living magazine the minute I grabbed it from the mailbox, and found The 10 Commandments of College Football Fandom. I just knew that I had to share this with everyone. I hope you enjoy it.

The 10 Commandments of College Football Fandom

1.         Thou shalt wear team colors. But, think twice before adorning yourself with body paint – you don’t want to be the Internet photo that goes viral.

2.         Thou shalt know – and sing – your team’s fight song from beginning to end. Sure, you can “watermelon watermelon” your way through the Alma Mater, but not memorizing the fight song is a fan failure.

3.         Thou shalt keep your language clean (unless, of course, the quarterback fumbles on fourth and goal).

4.         Thou shalt support the coach. Even when his calls are questionable.

5.         Thou shalt be respectful to visiting teams. Remember: Southern ladies and gentlemen never boo.

6.         Thou shalt set up a tailgate no fewer than three hours before kickoff (six if it’s a night game). Table linens and matching huggers encouraged, but not required.

7.         Thou shalt theme your tailgate food around the visiting rival. Gator bites, anyone?

8.         Thou shalt stay through the fourth quarter – rain or shine. That’s what ponchos are for, y’all.

9.         Thou shalt respect the solemnity of Game Day by planning weddings, births, and other events around the football schedule.

10.       Thou shalt not covet other teams’ bowl games, national championships, or Heisman Trophy wins. There’s always next year.

So…who will you be rooting for?

Geaux LSU Tigers!

Donna ‘Lucy’


That Day in September (a personal remembrance of 9/11) By Artie Van Why

That Day In September

 

From the Book:

I want it to go away, I don’t want it to have happened.

But it won’t, and it did, and I was there.

I wanted to catch that falling man with the flailing arms and legs.

But I couldn’t, and I didn’t, though I was there.

I wanted to be a hero, doing more than I humanly could.

But I wasn’t, and I didn’t.

I wanted to stay there, in the street, not afraid.

But I didn’t, and I was.

I wanted to be there through the end.

But I wasn’t.

I wanted to stay and rescue.

But I didn’t.

I wanted to be more injured, more dirty, more at risk.

But I wasn’t.

I want to imagine being buried, being missing, being gone.

But I can’t.

I want to know why I survived, and others didn’t.

But I don’t.

I want it never to have happened.

But it did.

Book Quotes:

“I don’t remember which came first, the shudder of the building or the loud sound. They probably came at the same time.”

“I fell in love with the World Trade Center my first week down there…I’d sit each morning on one of the stone-slab benches that were around the perimeter of the fountain at the World Trade Center with a copy of the newspaper I had picked. I would read my paper, drink my coffee, smoke a cigarette. I would watch the people passing me on their way to work.”

“Walking out onto the street the next morning was like walking into stillness. There were no cars on the streets, no horns blaring. Only the occasional wail of a siren haunted the quiet. I remember the weather being, as it was the day before, beautiful.”

“I believe God was in the hands of everyone who reached out to help someone else. He was in the arms of people on the streets as they embraced one another. He was in the tears of strangers who cried together. He was in all the lives that were given in the line of duty, in the acts of heroism. He was in the hearts of the people across the country who, as they watched the horror from afar, felt compassion.”

“…we stepped out onto Church Street, the street I had been on during most of the attack-the street where I had watched all those people fall to their deaths-the street I was on when the second plane hit-the street from which I had to run for my life.”

“I saw many people lose their lives that morning. In particular, I think of the many people I saw jump to their deaths. I think of their courage, knowing they were going to die. I think of that one moment in which they watch had to decide for themselves how their lives were going to end. They had to choose how to die. They took that leap.”

“And to honor those who are gone, I will not forget to live.”

About the Book:

We all have our stories to tell of where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. This is one of them. In “That Day In September” Artie Van Why gives an eyewitness account of that fateful morning. From the moment he heard “a loud boom” in his office across from the World Trade Center, to stepping out onto the street, Artie vividly transports the reader back to the day that changed our lives and our country forever. “That Day In September” takes you beyond the events of that morning. By sharing his thoughts, fears and hopes, Artie expresses what it was like to be in New York City in the weeks and months following. The reader comes away from “That Day In September” with not only a more intimate understanding of the events of that day but also with a personal glimpse of how one person’s life was dramatically changed forever.

The Author:

Image of Artie Van Why

Originally from Maryland, Artie Van Why moved to New York City in November of 1977 to pursue an acting career; albeit a slightly successful one.

Artie left show business in 1988 to enter the corporate world; as a word processor. He worked for the same law firm in midtown Manhattan for thirteen years. In June of 2001, his firm moved to other quarters downtown, across from the World Trade Center. Artie was at work the morning of September 11th, and witnessed the horror of that day from the streets.

He quit his job after three weeks of being back at his office’s building near what was now called Ground Zero. He began writing about his experience of that day and the days and weeks following, giving a vivid accounting of what it was like to be in New York City on that day in September, and afterwards. He sent some of his writings to friends and family via emails, and they, in turn, forwarded them to their friends and family. In a short period of time people across the country were reading Artie’s emails. He began receiving emails from people expressing their gratitude in being given a glimpse of what it was like to be in New York City during that time. He was encouraged to keep writing, and he did. Led by a personal conviction to tell his story of 9/11, Artie returned to his theatrical beginnings and began adapting his writings into a script. Laboring over draft after draft, Artie wanted to create a work he could share with people across the country.

During this time, he met famed actor, Richard Masur, through a mutual friend. Richard had done weeks of volunteer work at Ground Zero during the weeks of rescue and recovery. With Richard’s help, Artie put the final touches on the script and produced a staged reading of what was now a one man play called “That Day in September” in New York City. The reading was a success, a sold out evening. With Richard now involved as director, the first mounted production of “That Day In September” premiered on the campus of California Lutheran University, in Thousand Oaks, California, shortly after the one year anniversary of September 11th. The play then moved to the Celebration Theater in Los Angeles, where it opened to critical acclaim.

Back in New York, Artie mounted a workshop production of “That Day In September,” in preparation for a New York run. In August of 2003 “That Day in September” opened Off Broadway for a limited run.

After the New York production, in September of 2003, Artie moved to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he now resides.

Still compelled to tell his story of 9/11, Artie shared his experience of that day for churches, civic groups and as the key speaker in a series of conferences on PTSD for Drexel University.

The response garnered from those speaking opportunities encouraged Artie to do whatever he could to preserve the memory of 9/11 in people’s minds. To that end he self-published “That Day In September” as a book adaptation in 2006.

My Thoughts:

I felt it was imperative to open this review with the quote from the book rather than the “About the Book” that I normally begin with. I think the author did an outstanding job of putting into words what many of us were thinking that day. I also changed “My Review” to “My Thoughts” as my mind couldn’t wrap itself around the word review after reading this book.

As the author stated, we all have our stories to tell about where we were the morning of September 11, 2001. I know, in my own life (in South Louisiana), I had great hopes that morning, dreams of a relationship on the verge of being re-established. And, as the towers plunged to the ground, so did my own hopes.

I wasn’t in New York that fateful day, but I do have family that live just outside the city. For several days, I had no idea if they were involved in the pandemonium that had become Ground Zero. I had never even looked at a map of the city. My daughter and son-in-law now live in New York City. My daughter teaches at a wonderful little school in Times Square and my son-in-law teaches at a school on Wall Street. This tragedy is never far from my thoughts.

Now, having visited New York, and being familiar with where the towers once stood, I was able to visualize Artie’s thoughts and actions that morning much more vividly. I remembered street signs as he wrote about running up one street and down the other. I know of the downtown he spoke of, and the midtown where he walked with countless others. I understood his need to help others, yet feeling helpless. I walked, and ran in his shoes, as I read his words. I also understand how the brain can only take in a certain amount of tragedy before it shuts down.

“The sphere that sat atop the fountain in the plaza was amazingly found in all the rubble, though in pieces. It was lovingly put back together by the workers at the site and now stands in Battery Park; once again whole, though dented and damaged, but standing strong. Much like our city.”

I have been to Battery Park and I have stood before the sphere, myself whole, but dented and damaged from life, not at all unlike Artie. “That day in September” is a book of healing. Artie’s book is not a book to read and then add to the bookshelf. It is a book that begs to be passed from hand to hand so that all of us can know what the people who were there in the midst of the chaos felt and still struggle with. It is a book of remembrance for a tragedy that we, as Americans, should never forget.

I would like for you to comment and share your thoughts as you think back on where you were and what you were doing on 9/11 when the towers came tumbling down. Thank you.

Commercial for That Day In September:

http://youtu.be/7KYI1qU5Hoo

Giveaway:

Well, I have great news for everyone! The author, Artie Van Why, has graciously offered two books for our giveaway.

This is open INTERNATIONALLY, so everyone can have a chance! The international winner (should this apply) will receive an e-book version. 

All you have to do is follow this blog publicly and give your comments down below! Please include a valid email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will close on August 26, 2011 and the winners will receive an email on August 27, 2011.

 Tweets about this give away are greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for Tweeting!

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review. No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

 

Another Bad Dog Book by Joni B. Cole


Another Bad-Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love, and Neurotic Human Behavior

About the Book:

Eli the Chihuahua, also known as “Eee-Pie-Pie,” is a very bad dog. At only nine pounds he has discovered how to defy a $900 invisible fence system. He pees on imported Italian silk fabric. He won’t let anyone pet the family cat in peace. And yet, his owner, Joni B. Cole, has accidently ranked him higher than her husband and kids on her “happy list” and imagined kidnapping scenarios when a paperwork mix-up threatened to relocate him after his adoption went through.

In answer to countless memoirs recently published about shiny-coated yellow labs, or similar loping breeds, Cole brings new energy to the “bad dog” genre with her pup, a tiny mutt with blackish, fuzzy fur and big, pointy ears. To the purebred breeders of the world, the closest Cole can guess is that Eli is a disheveled Chihuahua Bat.

Cole’s talent for turning everyday moments into hilarious and meaningful episodes show that even the smallest occasions can mean a huge amount of laughter. The lessons Cole has learned from being a mother, wife and pet owner are more practical than heartwarming, and her charismatic voice is more honest than sentimental (“Unfortunately, my career as an author had not been going so well these past couple years, not since I’d discovered the ‘Watch Instantly’ option on NetFlix”). Another Heartwarming and Hilarious Dog Story offers a message of simple love through essays of everyday proportions.

About the Author:

 Joni B. Cole

You can find Joni here:

http://www.jonibcole.com
http://www.toxicfeedback.com
http://www.thisdayinthelife.com
http://www.thewriterscenterwrj.com
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joni-B-Cole/47025094351.

Twitter: @JoniBCole

 Her humor and human-interest essays have appeared in her monthly newspaper column as well as assorted literary journals. She is also a frequent contributor to The Writer  magazine. Co-founder of the Writer’s Center in White River Junction, Vermont, Cole has taught writing for over fifteen years, and is a popular speaker at writing conferences around the country. She lives in Hartford, Vermont with her husband and two daughters.Author of Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive, Library Journal “strongly recommended” the book for writers, teachers, and workshops. Joni B. Cole is also founding creator of the acclaimed This Day in the Life series, a three-book collection of women’s daily lives.

Book Quotes:

            “Mommy,” my six-year-old asked, “Did you burn The Monstrosity down?”…I admitted I had no alibi.

I am not the self-service type, having spent years perfecting the are of learned helplessness.

“What kind of computer is it?” my computer guy asks. “A laptop,” I reply impatiently. Even I know that much.

My computer guy is really nice, but sometimes I get the feeling he’s trying to avoid me…he insists I’d be better off calling the company’s technical support center. Then he hangs up…I’d rather phone my mother-in-law and listen to her retell the story of how she saved $1.25 on a box of fire logs by going to four different malls.

Eleven-year-old hormones are to blame…radical mood swings…look on her face that spoke volumes – your existence horrifies me. Why can’t you spontaneously combust, or at least be normal like other moms?

Tears glazed her eyes, as if I was Mommy Dearest and her father was social services.

My Review:

            I know that this is a short review, but what can I say except I loved this book. I could stop here and to me that would be enough. But, just so I can convince you that you need to read this book, I’ll add a few additional points.

First of all, don’t you love the quotes. They are straight from any one of our lives. I loved Joni’s short story format. It was like sitting down for a gossip session with a good friend. By the time, I closed the book (turned off the Kindle) I felt as if I had known Joni B. Cole for years.

Through her stories, she takes us on a journey through her life and she leaves us laughing and crying at different times and sometimes at the same time. Some of the stories are heart breaking and others leave you wondering how she’s made it through life thus far with so little scrapes.

I saw so much of myself in some of her stories that I felt we were kindred spirits. It is a definite must read. It will have you remembering all of those funny stories of your own life. And, as I said in the beginning, this is a short review, but this is all it took to say how much I truly enjoyed this book. You will too.

Author Interview:

Do you remember the first story you wrote? What was it like?

In elementary school I wrote a story about a girl sneaking inside a rocket ship (her dad was a famous rocket scientist) and suddenly it took off! I don’t remember the finer plot points, but it all turned out fine (then, as now, I never liked stories with unhappy endings). But here is something you just made me realize by answering this question. While the story was fictional (obviously!) in real life, I have always had this irrational fear of suddenly finding myself clueless at some control panel. No wonder I’m so intimidated by technology!

Anyway, I don’t recall writing much fiction after my rocket ship adventure until my mid-twenties when I collaborated on a farce with another copywriter at an ad agency where we both worked. The piece had no plot or future, but it did kindle my interest in humor writing. And, as a gossipy side-note, my collaborator went on to become a writer for the Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

Do you use paper and pen, old-fashioned typewriter, or computer/laptop? Is there a specific place that you like to write?

I use a laptop, unless it’s too big to lug around, in which case I write in my “lucky” notebook. It’s “lucky” because when I got the idea for what became my title essay in Another Bad-Dog Book, I was in Borders at the time (boo hoo, no more Borders!) and I didn’t have anything on which to jot down my thoughts. So I bought this notebook and starting writing in the café. Three weeks later, I showed the opening of that essay to a publisher who had previously turned down my proposal for a collection of humor essays, and she said yes!

Every time I look at my lucky notebook (which I carry in my purse) I’m reminded of two things. 1.) I need to write down my ideas as soon as I have them, just in case they amount to something. And 2.) My first drafts are bad; as in really bad! But, that’s okay. Because, with revision they may turn out just fine!

What is the best part of writing for you?

Writing is hard, but it’s harder when I’m procrastinating, or over-thinking, or whining about writing, which makes it all seem so overwhelming. So, the best part of writing for me is when I am actually doing it, even if it feels like slogging. I also prefer rewriting to facing a blank page. Give me something—anything—to work with and I’m more in my element. I also love that feeling when I reread something I’ve written and realize, Yes! It actually communicates what I wanted to say.

Tell us something about your books.

I came up with my three-volume “This Day” series about a decade ago, when I was having a very bad day. My dad had recently had a stroke. My career was going nowhere. And, my four-year-old refused to put on socks on on a frigid Vermont morning. All of which caused me to wonder if anyone else was having such a lousy day. And, from that thought, I began to wonder what were other women actually doing and thinking and feeling on this very same day. And so a book series was born, in which I invited about five-hundred women across the country and from all walks of life to create a “day diary” on a single day…and share it with the reading public. The most recent title in the series is: Water Cooler Diaries: Women across America Share Their Day at Work (“both fascinating and eye-opening,” Publisher’s Weekly.”)

In addition, I wrote Toxic Feedback: Helping Writers Survive and Thrive. This book came from my experience as a struggling writer, and as a long-time writing teacher who has witnessed too many times the destructive power of feedback; when, in fact, feedback is one of the best resources we have as writers, if it is given and received with thoughtfulness and a positive attitude. Toxic Feedback is often lauded for its humor, but its message is serious. Library Journal “strongly recommends” Toxic Feedback as a resource for writers and teachers, and American Book Review writes, “I can’t imagine a better guide to [writing’s] rewards and perils than this fine book.” I’m really proud of this book.

And, then of course I more recently wrote Another Bad-Dog Book: Tales of Life, Love, and Neurotic Human Behavior. I love writing personal essays, though I have to say my family isn’t too crazy about the idea. Ha.

What is something that most people wouldn’t necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

Hmm? Given that I seem to talk all the time, this is a tough one. Plus, I am pretty much how I appear to be in Another Bad-Dog Book—neurotic, loving, wanting to be loved, petty, generous, a people person who is also a curmudgeon… Because I often write humor, people might not know that I am very serious about my work as a writer and writing instructor.

Top 3 things on your bucket list.

1.) To be less self absorbed and kinder on a daily basis.

2.) To say “yes” to more new experiences, even if they intimidate me.

3.) To learn how to salsa dance!

When you aren’t writing, what are you doing?

Enjoying the company of my daughters (ages 14 and 12) when they’ll tolerate me; vegging out with Netflix; socializing with friends; teaching classes and running workshops; serving on a couple boards; talking baby-talk to my dog and cat; reading; examining my laugh lines in the mirror; avoiding cleaning….

Everyone loves to win a book.

Well, I have great news for everyone! Joni B. Cole has graciously

offered an e-book for one lucky commenter.

(To enter – please visit http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com)

My Life. One Story at a Time.: Another Bad Dog Book by Joni B. Cole

This is open INTERNATIONALLY, so everyone can have a chance! 

All you have to do is follow this blog publicly and give your comments down below! Please include a valid email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will close on August 22, 2011 and the winners will receive an email on August 23, 2011.

Tweets about this give away are greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for Tweeting!

If you found this review helpful, please click the icon below and check yes on

my Amazon.com review. Thanks in advance for voting. 

You can find Another Bad Dog Book on Amazon.com

 

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review.  No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post. 

Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

My Crazy Life – August 12, 2011 – Stopping an old man’s heart

            I was in Walmart earlier in the week, and as I was walking out, I couldn’t help but notice that I can still turn the heads of men, even if they are the heads of 70-year-old men! Ya gotta bless their little hearts they made my day. Of course, who else is going to be warming the bench at Walmart at 9 am on a Tuesday morning? They had their bottles of Geritol and I’m sure they were telling each other stories about how they could attract a girl’s eye in the day when I walked by. I have to say I looked nice. The make-up was looking quiet fresh at that time of the morning, rather than tired as it does by the end of the day. And, I was dressed in a pretty color – off setting the beautiful blue of my eyes (this girl knows her assets – men used to give me a dollar bills when I was little because they thought my eyes were beautiful.) I was also thinking it was probably the red lipstick that had their tongues a hangin’. Back in the day, that’s the color that women wore, not the natural flesh tones you see today.

Which brings up another thought – I have often wondered (and never asked) why women want to wear lipstick the same color as their lips. It doesn’t make sense to me (in my opinion.) Of course, if I wore a color the same shade as my lips, you wouldn’t see my lips. I have always loved bold colors when it comes to lipstick. When I am in a particular feisty mood, I always wear red. Red means don’t mess with me today; I’ll have you for lunch.

And, now (drum roll please) a story about Calypso. You know by now that there will always be a story (or a paragraph) about Ryka and Calypso. I was sitting out on the front porch (that’s what we Southerners do) watching Calypso chase the mosquito hawks and it suddenly dawned on me (I think they may have even been a streak of lightening and a crack of thunder) that she loves life. She is the happiest dog; you can see it in her face. She loves everything about living. She loves to dig. She loves to eat. She loves to run and jump. She loves to tear things up and scater the remains around the yard.

She loves to chase bugs. She loves to eat bugs. She loves to chase her ball (she does not like to give it back – we play with two.) She loves water, especially if it’s coming out of the water nozzle. She loves her swimming pool (and if you are squirting her with water all the better.) Calypso loves living. Calypso and Ryka’s newest thing is playing and sleeping on the new utility trailer that Hubby purchased (big boy’s, big toys.) When the sun goes down and Ryka is ready to sleep, she climbs up and picks a spot. Eventually, Calypso ends up at the opposite end, and after a round of chase the tail, she settles down and falls asleep.

Calypso also reminds me of a ferret. Isn’t that the animal that likes to take things and hide them from unsuspecting owners and visitors? Well, Calypso doesn’t hide things; they are on full display in her playground (the front yard.) She just digs and finds things and carts them out to the front yard for all to see, things you never knew you had.

I had a mail episode the other day. I went be-bopping out to the mailbox to retrieve the mail and when I opened up the mailbox, a big, black bug came out with the mail. I handled the situation quite rationally. The mail went one way and I went the other! Then, I had to pick it all up before it blew onto the highway. This was after I kicked each piece to make sure the bug was not on it. Have I ever mentioned that I HATE bugs. Let me then, “I HATE bugs!”

Lucy Jr. had an episode the other day too. Daughter and son-in-law are both musicians and graduated from LSU (Go LSU Tigers!) with music degrees. They have tons of musician friends all doing a variety of jobs. On this particular day, they were helping a friend out who is a high school band director. Daughter said one minute she was instructing the kids in the pit (that’s percussion section for all you non-musical folks) and the next, someone was patting her and asking her if she was okay. She was talking one second and the next second was flat on her back with her head split open. Daughter fainted; never saw it coming. She actually fell straight back. It was first thought that she also had a concussion. She was vomiting and couldn’t remember who she was or where she was (wait – I tried that once, didn’t work.)

Son-in-law (yeah Son-in-law – he did good!) took her to the hospital. In the emergency room, she was asked if she wanted staples or stitches. She sat there for a moment and then told them, she was already in enough pain, why would she want to inflict more and was there any more options. She was told superglue. You know how that apple don’t fall far from the tree. She told them glue away. Turns out, Son-in-law had an almost episode too. When the tech starting drawing blood, he was taken out in the hall and given juice because they thought he was going to pass out.

That’s about all the excitement this week. Stay tuned, I’ll be posting a story about the date I had with Hubby on Sunday.

Ya’ll come back now,

 

Donna ‘Lucy’

My Crazy Life – August 1, 2011 – Calypso goes MIA

            It’s been raining everyday for nearly two months now, so the grass is cut when you can wade through the knee-deep mush to the mower. This morning was THE day. I headed out to the barn to get the mower. On the way out the back door, I rang the bell to signal The Princess and The Pea. Ryka (The Princess) came running. She is the dutiful dog and just loves her mama. Calypso (The Pea), on the other hand, did not come running. Normally, she does, but lately she has been in the kennel too much for her taste. She is usually the first one to her mama (Lucy – me). I put Ryka in the kennel with her treat and a bone and went to look for Calypso. I rang the bell again on my way past the porch. When she didn’t show, I got on the mower and headed toward my flower garden.

            Her normal (is there really anything normal about Calypso?) behavior is to run to the kennel at the first sound of the mower. This did not work. I got off the mower and went to look under the front porch (this is their little hideout) no Calypso. I headed back around the house and checked out the orchard – no Calypso. I checked under the fig trees, and in the barn, no Calypso. Hubby phoned to let me know he was heading from “down the bayou” to “up the bayou” and I told him I could not find Calypso. He asked if I looked in the barn (Jake and Sentry, my before dogs had each taken turns being locked unknowingly in the barn.) I checked the barn, and no Calypso. By this time, I was getting frantic.

I let Ryka out of the kennel, hoping she would lead me to The Pea, but that didn’t work. She just sat in the shade and looked at me as if to say, “Why do you want her? It’s peaceful.” Believe me, this was no time for a smart-mouthed dog.

I phoned Hubby back, in tears, (I love my puppy), to tell him I had been unable to locate her. He was going to be passing the house in a few minutes and said that he would stop and help me look. (Good Hubby – he knows I love my dogs. I guess an hysterical wife ranks slightly above father in the hospital already surrounded by siblings.) I continued looking and crying, and crying and looking. After making sure that she was not in the back yard, the barn or under the porch, I headed toward the front gate, my heart heavy. The only other place I knew to look was the busy highway that runs in front of our house.

I was almost to the gate and I spotted a big lump in the corner of the front yard under the azaleas. I called Calypso’s name and her head popped up. I didn’t know whether to hug her or kill her (the jury is still out.) The Pea ran to me and started whimpering as if she had been looking for me and couldn’t find me. The nerve!

After a lot of licking (I think she was apologizing, although with the whimpering – I think she was trying to manipulate me into thinking I had left her) I managed to coerce her into going to the kennel (this means grabbing her by the collar and marching her behind back there!) When we got close, she took off and was standing at the gate waiting to go in. I think when she heard the lawn mower, she ran the wrong way and was afraid to come back. She is deathly afraid of the mower.

Before mowing the yard, there is always the inevitable game to play of “Scoop the Poop”. After we go through the Scoop the Poop routine (and I say we, because the dogs follow me and watch), it is time for them to go into the kennel and for me to mow.

Predictably, I will be mindlessly mowing back and forth and I will come upon a dog patty (if there can be cow patties, why not dog patties – especially after you roll over them) and I will have to stop the mower, get off and scoop. I now carry a little garden shovel under my foot for this purpose. Then, nothing makes me madder than having the poop fall off of the shovel on the way to a tree (the shovel is narrow) and having to scoop that darn poop, not once, but twice. And, this is after it has been baking in the hot sun. Let me tell you – it. don’t. smell. good.

Then, don’t get me started on the pile I missed, but got with the lawn mower tire. I had to ride along for an hour smelling that stench AND I had to look at it every time it went by on the tire. It doesn’t fall off as time goes on!

You would think that as The Princess and The Pea follow me around, watching me scoop the poop and put it under the trees, that they would get the hang of it. It is when I have a shovel full and they smile (I swear that these dogs smile – they are pure breed) at me, squat, and leave another pile. I need to start putting the shovel under those bottoms, scoop once instead of twice! One of these chicks (probably me) is just not getting it.

Before it starting pouring down rain today, Calypso was trying to take a little bone from Ryka. I thought, “That’s okay. Ryka will get a big bone.” That little stinker had the nerve to take it from Ryka. Even the lightening, thunder, and pouring down rain was not going to stop her from enjoying it.

 

You can't see the rain, but it was pouring.

As you can see by the story, my life was a little boring this week (shh! – don’t say that too loud.) I did have the opportunity to have tea with a good friend. With her work schedule this summer, we hadn’t been able to visit. We had a really nice “girl’s tea party” and caught up on news (gossip.) School starts this week, but that doesn’t affect me because I have no young children.

I also had the opportunity to ‘ro-day’ as we say in the south with a new friend and that was fun. ‘Ro-day’ means ‘run the roads’ which means run errands. You are all officially Southerners now. We stopped in at the AT&T store. Her son lost his phone and I told her all about the $10 Go Phone I had purchased. While I was there, I had to torture myself. I drooled over the I-Phone. I wished in front of the I-Phone. I tried to conjure up a spell so I could get one today; it didn’t work. Two months in the quiet chair is a long time. Calypso WILL NOT find my next phone (AND I will definitely get the insurance.)

Thanks for the visit!

Donna

Awaken the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney

Awaken the Highland Warrior

About the Book:

            Historian Bree Kirkland has always been in love with the past, but when she accidentally wakes an ancient Scottish warrior who’s spent the past 150 years sleeping in her backyard, her present is suddenly fraught with danger. Faelan has awakened from the time vault ravenous–in more ways than one. He grieves for his lost family, wondering who sent the woman to wake him. If she’s a demon, Faelan will have to kill her. If she’s innocent, she’s unleashed the gates of hell in her backyard. Either way they must rely on each other to save their future.

About the Author:

Anita Clenney

Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel–lasted half a day)…she realized she’d missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Anita lives in Virginia with her hero and two kids, where she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love.

www.anitaclenney.com
www.facebook.com/anitaclenneyAUTHOR
www.twitter.com/anitaclenney
www.linkedin.com/in/anitaclenney
www.goodreads.com/anitaclenney

 

Quotes:

            “A voice brushed her ear. ‘What was lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.’”

“’It lies hidden close to God, in a place where evil can’t trod.’ That’s what it said.”

“”I won’t do anything stupid,” she said, as if she hadn’t just broken into a demon’s castle and barely escaped with her life.”

“She was a walking calamity, but Faelan knew she’d never leave unless he forced her, and then she’d mostly likely sneak back. It was safer to have her where he could watch her.”

““In my day, women were to be cherished and protected,” Faelan said. “You can protect our backs while we fight alongside you and cherish us when we defeat the enemy,” she said. Damnation. What had happened to the sane world he’d left behind where women minded hearth and home?”

“What lies within cannot be, until time has passed with the key.”

“’God grant this warrior’s aim be as true as his heart. Bend time and bring forward, his mate beside him, not apart,’” she said, moving her hands across his battle marks as if reading Braille.”

“Bree stepped inside, blind to the smiling faces turned toward her, as she searched for him. Her breath caught. His hair was pulled back, highlighting his stunning face. He wore a white shirt, a kilt, waistcoat, and jacket, as did his groomsmen…”

My Review:

            I literally do not know what to say about this book. It ended. I read the last page. I did not want it to end. I read the last page again. It still ended.

It’s not that the book didn’t come to a wonderful, climatic ending. It did. I just did not want it to end. It was action packed. It was pack with intrigue and suspense. It was packed with a whole lot of beautiful Scotsmen – wearing kilts! And, brandishing swords!

This story was a wonderful romance, bred over centuries of a Scottish warrior and his mate. Their destiny, decided on by the Gods. But, love at first site, does not always take the easy path. Sometimes, it is plagued with demons and half-lings, greed and violence, and the warrior may also have to save the world a time or two before he and his mate can be joined (at least by a priest.)

Some storylines are good, but they still just hum along. If Awaken the Highland Warrior were set to music notes, it would be filled with crescendos and the clang of symbols would end the book.

If you love a good romance, and you enjoy a good battle, and if you do not mind a gargoyle or two, AND you do not mind being kept riveted to your seat – this book is for you. Click on the icon and buy it now. Don’t pass Go, skip Jail, and get it now!

Author Interview:

Do you remember the first story you wrote? What was it like?

The first story I started writing was what is now the second book in this series. Embrace the Highland Warrior. Originally, it was a romantic suspense, but after I wrote Awaken the Highland Warrior, (which my I started six months later, but my agent said was the book we needed to submit) I realized the first book needed to be part of the series. I revised it, and now it’s so much stronger.

 Do you use paper and pen, old-fashioned typewriter, or computer/laptop? Is there a specific place that you like to write?

I use a computer, which is in my laundry room, and a laptop which I use when I want to go outside, write in bed, or at my kids sports events.

 What is the best part of writing for you?

The brainstorming. I love to plot. Coming up with the twists and turns of the story is just magical.

 Tell us something about your books.

The series is about a secret clan of Scottish warriors charged by Michael the Archangel with protecting humans from demons disguised among us. The stories are full of romance, adventure, lots of suspense, and humor. Here are blurbs for all three books.

AWAKEN THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR

He’s had centuries to dream of her…Mis-adventurous historian Bree Kirkland discovers a 19thcentury Scottish warrior buried in a crypt behind her house. But Faelan, the warrior, isn’t dead. When this chauvinistic warrior awakes, he has no choice but accept the help of this modern-day woman who’s rescued him, but she’s more fearsome than the demon trying to kill him. If he’s not careful, she’ll uncover every secret his clan has bled and died to protect.

EMBRACE THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR

When the powerful demon that left Shay for dead discovers her empty grave, he comes seeking retribution, believing she possesses an ancient book he has sought for centuries. Knowing she can’t fight the demon alone, Shay returns to her clan and the Scottish Warrior who betrayed her…the only man she’s ever loved, where she discovers that betrayal isn’t always what it seems. Sometimes it’s far worse.

UNLEASH THE HIGHLAND WARRIOR

A talisman belonging to Tavis Connor’s brother is the only weapon powerful enough to kill the demon hell-bent on stealing the clan’s Book of Battles so he can destroy the world. But the talisman has been locked in a time vault with Tavis’s brother and won’t open for 150 years. In desperation, the Scottish warrior breaks the clan’s sacred rules and uses another time vault to travel forward so he can protect the book and rescue his brother, or if he’s dead, finish his quest. But when Tavis finally wakes in modern-day New York, he discovers he’s the one in need of help. Anna MacKinley has been searching for her clan’s Book of Battles which has been missing for 150 years, but instead she finds a warrior with no memories who claims he’s come to save the world.

Being of Scottish heritage, I love reading about the Scottish Warriors. How did you come to write about the Scottish Warriors? 

In this world I’ve created, there are secret warriors all over the world, but this series deals with the Scottish warriors. I needed Faelan to be very loyal and fierce, and so I decided he needed to be from a highland clan.

 When will the next book in the series come out? I would really love to review it. 

The second book, Embrace the Highland Warrior, comes out in November. The third one will be out Fall 2012.

 

What is something that most people wouldn’t necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

I used to be very shy. That tends to surprise people.

 Top 3 things on your bucket list.

Get my shopping under control. Get my house organized and clutter-free. And it wouldn’t be bad to hit the NYT Best Seller list.

 When you aren’t writing, what are you doing? 

Reading, getting my kids back and forth to events, or shopping.

 

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review.  No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post.  Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

 

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today by Stacy Juba

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today

About the Book:

            Should we dig for the truth when Pandora’s Box is a coffin of buried secrets? Kris Langley has always been obsessed with murder. She blames herself for the violent death of her cousin when they were kids and has let guilt invade every corner of her existence. Now an editorial assistant and obit writer, Kris stumbles across an unsolved murder while compiling “25 Years Ago Today” items from the microfilm. Determined to solve the case and atone for the death of her cousin, Kris immerses herself in the mystery of what happened to Diana Ferguson, a talented artist who expressed herself through haunting paintings of Greek mythology.

Not only does Kris face resistance from her family and her managing editor, she also clashes with Diana’s suspicious nephew, Eric Soares – until neither she nor Eric can deny the chemistry flaring between them. She soon learns that old news never leaves the morgue and that yesterday’s headline is tomorrow’s danger, for finding out the truth about that night twenty-five years ago may shatter Kris’s present, costing her love, her career, and ultimately, her life.

About the Author:

Stacy Juba

Award-winning writer Stacy Juba loves reading novels as much as writing them and has authored titles ideal for book clubs or the beach. Although she specializes in adult mysteries, Stacy has also written books for children and young adults – she pursues whatever story ideas won’t leave her alone.

Stacy is the author of the Amazon bestselling adult mystery/romantic suspense novels Twenty-Five Years Ago Today and Sink or Swim, the mystery short story e-book Laundry Day, the acclaimed patriotic children’s picture book, The Flag Keeper, and the children’s e-book Victoria Rose and the Big Bad Noise. Her young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn will be released by Mainly Murder Press in January 2012.

After years of working as a reporter, Stacy now concentrates on writing fiction and freelancing. She has produced many award-winning articles for a regional parenting magazine and her nonfiction has appeared nationally inThe Writer and ByLine. Stacy is trained in Reiki, a form of hands-on healing which she practices on friends and family. When not busy with her husband and family, Stacy enjoys doing Tai Chi and reading mystery novels. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and is one of the authors with a featured article included in the organization’s newly revised marketing book for writers,Shameless Promotion for Brazen Hussies. You can read more about Stacy Juga at www.stacyjuba.com

Quotes:

“She remembered the grieving process well: walking around as if in warm Jell-O, arms and legs heavy, head difficult to hold up, and crying until numbness froze the tears. Forgetting had disturbed her the most, slipping sway into the calm relief of sleep, then jolting awake in cold horror.”

“Really? What would you say if I told you that it was my fault Nichole was walking alone? That I played a trick? I’ve been carrying that secret for fourteen years, torturing myself, all because you live your life in denial. You run from things, and pretend life is perfect. We’ve all lived by your rules, and I’m sick of it.”

Author Interview:

Do you remember the first story you wrote? What was it like?

My first story was called The Curse of the White Witch, written when I was in third grade. It was a thriller about a kind girl with supernatural powers, who was misunderstood and treated badly by the townspeople. It’s odd, as it has some similarities to my paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn, coming out from Mainly Murder Press in early 2012, but I didn’t realize the similarities until recently.

Do you use paper and pen, old-fashioned typewriter, or computer/laptop? Is there a specific place that you like to write?

I use the desktop computer in my office for writing. I have a laptop and an Alphasmart word processor, but I’m most productive on the computer in my office. I always do my editing with a pen, highlighters and printed manuscript. Somehow, it’s easier for me to find flaws in the manuscript when it’s printed out in manuscript form.

What is the best part of writing for you?

The best part is seeing how the story unfolds, and reading a scene over and thinking, Wow, that’s pretty good. It’s also rewarding when I run into some kind of story problem and then figure out a way to resolve it.

Tell us something about your books.

I mostly write adult mystery novels with a touch of romance, but I’ve also written young adult novels and children’s picture books. Readers of Twenty-Five Years Ago Today should also enjoy Sink or Swim, which is about a former reality show contestant who attracts a stalker after returning to her normal life as a personal trainer.

My young adult paranormal thriller Dark Before Dawn is scheduled for release in early 2012, and is about teenage psychics and their mysterious fortuneteller mentor. It’s a young adult book, but adults who enjoy paranormal books should enjoy it also.

My children’s picture book The Flag Keeper teaches kids about U.S. flag etiquette through a fiction story, discussion questions, flag facts, and cute teddy bear illustrations. I also have another children’s picture book called Victoria Rose and the Big Bad Noise, and a third on the way, titled Sticker Shoes. Lastly, I’m working on the re-release of my out-of-print young adult novel Face-Off, about feuding twin brothers who compete on the same high school ice hockey team. I’m also working on the sequel, Offsides. At least one of the Face-Off books should be out this fall.

What is something that most people wouldn’t necessarily know about you (that you would be willing to share here, of course!)?

I’m very holistic and spiritual. I’m trained as a Reiki master, though I don’t do it professionally. Reiki is a form of hands-on energy healing.

Top 3 things on your bucket list.

Ride a gondola in Venice with my husband.
Go back to England with my family and explore more of the countryside.
Go to the movies (or turn on the TV) and see an adaptation of one of my books on the screen.

Where can we find you? (sites, links, FB, twitter, author page)

Web site and blog: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/
Twitter: http://twitter.com/stacyjuba
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stacy-Juba/100155471301
You can sign up for my newsletter by visiting the contact tab on my web site.

When you aren’t writing, what are you doing? 

I’m with my family, reading a book, taking a walk, doing Tai Chi, or watching a movie.

My Review:

            First off, I have to say I absolutely loved this book. I cannot remember how long it has been since I have read a book where the ending and the “who dun it” remained a mystery to me. I am very good at predicting the ending of books after reading the first chapter, but this book was written so well, that I was caught by surprise – and you will be too.

I enjoyed the way each new chapter led with an event that happened twenty-five years before. We all have a curiosity about the past and I found this tidbit intriguing.

The book is about a unsolved murder of a young woman that happened in “small-town” America. A young “wanna be” reporter, suffering from guilt over her cousin’s death makes the decision to purge her own life of guilt by helping another family find peace.

The decision causes chaos and tears families apart. There are many characters in this book, but instead of being mind boggling, it adds to the suspense. The book has love, intrigue, and lots of mystery.

Don’t miss this page turner! It’s a must read!

Twenty-Five Years Ago Today can be purchased at Amazon.com

 

Disclaimer / Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of the book with no obligation for a positive review.  No compensation – monetary or in kind – has been obtained for this post.  Cover art and book description courtesy of the author, publisher, or PR firm.

 

A Dark Sicilian Secret by Jane Porter

A Dark Sicilian Secret (Harlequin Presents)
About the Book:
She can run…
Lethally attractive Vittorio d’Severano was everything Jillian Smith wanted—until she discovered his secret life, and her dreams of a happy–ever–after crumbled into dust… Brokenhearted and terrified, Jill disappeared.


But she can’t hide!

Now Vitt has returned—to claim the tiny son Jill has sworn to keep from him! But to stay with her child, she must put Vitt’s ring on her finger. Yet what kind of relationship can they have when it’s based on secrets and a heat impossible to resist?

About the Author (from http://www.janeporter.com)

Born in Visalia, California, I’m a small town girl at heart. I love central California’s golden foothills, oak trees, and the miles of farmland. In my mind, there’s nothing sweeter in the world than the heady fragrance of orange blossoms on a sultry summer night.
As a little girl I spent hours on my bed, staring out the window, dreaming of far off places, fearless knights, and happy-ever-after endings. In my imagination I was never the geeky bookworm with the thick coke-bottle glasses, but a princess, a magical fairy, a Joan-of-Arc crusader.

After my years of traveling and studying I had to settle down and earn a living. With my Bachelors degree from UCLA in American Studies, a program that combines American literature and American history, I’ve worked in sales and marketing, as well as a director of a non-profit foundation. Later I earned my Masters in Writing from the University of San Francisco and taught jr. high and high school English.

I now live in rugged Seattle, Washington with my three young sons. I never mind a rainy day, either, because that’s when I sit at my desk and write stories about far-away places, fascinating people, and most importantly of all, love. I like a story with a happy ending. We all do. (For more on the author, visit her website.)

My Review:

            It’s been a long time since I’ve picked up a Harlequin Romance Novel. Jane Porter’s ‘A Dark Sicilian Secret’ reminded me why I loved them so much. After all, what red-blooded woman wouldn’t want a tall, dark, and handsome man to sweep her off her feet. That’s exactly what happens to Jillian Smith.

            Raised the daughter of a mob king pen, she lives her childhood in witness protection. Graduating from college, she escapes to Europe where she meets Vittorio d’Severano. She flees upon learning he may be the head of the notorious d’Severano family.
            But, she soon finds out that you can run, but you cannot hide from a ruthless man, especially when you are hiding his infant son.

            The book has awesome love scenes (I won’t be staying away so long this time) and just enough suspense to keep you intrigue. For all of you Harlequin fans, you will definitely want to pick this one up.

Giveaway:

Well, I have great news for everyone! Author Sound Relations has graciously offered two prizes for our giveaway.
  
This is open INTERNATIONALLY, so everyone can have a chance! 
All you have to do is follow this blog publicly and give your comments down below! Please include a valid email address so I can contact you. The giveaway will close on August 7, 2011 and the winners will receive an email on August 8, 2011.
Tweets about this give away are greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance for Tweeting!
If you found this review helpful, please click the icon below and check yes on my review. Thanks. 
To enter this contest, please click on the icon to the right and enter on
My Life. One Story at a Time.