Review of A Dozen Apologies

dozen apologiesWhat a charmer! A Dozen Apologies, published by Tracy Ruckman at Write Integrity Press, is the collaborative effort of a dozen well-known and popular authors, including Betty Owens, Jennifer Hallmark, Jerusha Agen, and others. Each author provided a chapter in the life of Mara Adkinson, former sorority bad girl.

Back in college, Mara and her sorority sisters got a kick out of publicly humiliating the men who loved them. Now, after a cruel shot of karma, Mara is on a quest to find all twelve men and apologize. Each chapter, written by a different author, features a new man, a new job–and apparently the authors were under strict orders not to make it a common job–and a new reaction to the apology.

Of course, this novel is a bit of a romance to boot, and the final chapter reveals the man of Mara’s dreams. This honey was one of the twelve she’d apologized to, chosen for her by pre-publication readers.

The novel is episodic by nature, but it’s a goodie. Short and fun, this book is a terrific opportunity to see the writing talents of several authors at once. What a special treat!

~~~~~

Many of the same authors have joined together again to bring us the adventures of The Love Boat Bachelor, available now on Amazon!

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Lightning on a Quiet Night: a review

donnDonn Taylor is one of my favorite mystery writers, and he won me over again with Lightning on a Quiet Night

In the years following WWII, Lisa Kemper moves to the tiny town of Beneficent, Mississippi with her widower father, but what she really wants to do is go back to college. Nothing in Beneficent pleases her, and she feels trapped.

Veteran Jack Davis sees no wrong with the town that supported him during his military service and the death of his parents. He is working hard to repay a loan on his farm and bring his dreams for the land to reality. He is a stalwart citizen of what he views as a perfect town.

Then, a cheerleader is murdered in this perfect town, where everyone believes evils are committed only in other places by other people. Surely no one in Beneficent is capable of committing such a heinous crime!

Secrets unravel, truths unfold, and opinions change in this powerful historical romance/mystery. Written with wit and an understanding of the human heart, this novel should be in the hands of every reader.

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Tribute to a Cat

BugMany of my friends already know we had to put Cuddle Bug down last week. Last year, we lost Belle, which was hard enough, but Bug was my baby. She was the runt of Belle’s only litter, born in this house, and the only one in the litter that would seek me out.

Belle delivered her litter in a box in the guest room, but as the kittens grew and got more adventurous, we moved them to the laundry room. Which was great, except when I needed to do laundry. Then, all six of them would escape and explore the house, from texture of the furniture to the tufted curtain tops. Except for Bug. She’d want to be wherever I was. I still remember her scrambling up the upholstery of my recliner to rest in my lap. Even then, she was still so tiny, she’d fit in one hand. The others were much bigger.

When it came time to give the kittens away, I announced that Bug was mine, and though it would mean we’d have three cats (we had Tom too at that time), I was not giving that one up.

She remained loyal to me for the next eleven years. It was a peculiar kind of loyalty. For reasons of her own, she was scared of my husband. He’d never done anything to her, she had no obvious reason to be afraid, but during those eleven years, she’d rarely allow him to even pet her. She was quiet, too, compared to all the other cats–especially PB, the rescue kitty we obtained after Tom died. I wasn’t sure Bug could say anything more than the occasional “meh.”

Bug never was much of an outdoor cat. Didn’t like to get her feet dirty. If I sent her outside with the rest of our felines, she’d dart up the tree and sit on the roof until she could come back inside. Bad weather had her hanging from the top of the screen door, look of sheer terror in her eyes. These were the few times she found her voice, and the rare time we could translate Cat into English: Let me in!

Things began to change during the three-year stretch that I was frequently in the hospital. Having no other human to scratch her ears, she began to trust the man of the house. And later, during my long stay taking care of Mom, she began to sit on his lap. But only if I wasn’t home. When I was home, MSB didn’t exist. Finally, after one of my particularly long periods in the hospital, the time came when Bug would look for him, arch under his hand, weave around his legs, but it took around a dozen years.

None of the cats ever warmed up to the scratching post no matter what I did to convince them, so for several years, we lived with shredded furniture. Eventually, I got to buy new. After a few times of our indoor/outdoor cats bringing in fleas despite the flea medicine, I decided it was time to turn them into indoor-only cats. According to the Vet, Bug had a kidney condition, so she was the only one who got to keep her claws. Always docile, always deferring to the other cats, she suddenly became the only one with a weapon. Dynamics changed. She usurped PB as second-in-command to Belle (Belle was boss. Even without claws, she could pretty much slap the other cats across the room. With Bug especially, Belle was all “I brought you into this world, I can take you out”). Between the two of them, they really did a number on PB. She’s still trying to figure out her position in the family–different now, since she’s the only remaining cat.

Bug stayed quiet until she was around seventeen years old. One day, I heard her singing in the kitchen, head up, tail flicking, just yodeling away. The older she got, the more demanding she became, and the more she used that newly discovered voice.

After what I went through last year with Belle, realizing too late that I should’ve taken her to the vet to be relieved from her pain much earlier, I kept a close eye on Bug. I took her in right after losing Belle, because at the time, she was only a year younger. Dr. Lott discovered she had a thyroid condition, which I managed for an entire year with special food and raw venison. But within the past two weeks, she boycotted her food–even her beloved venison. She wanted what PB ate. I arrived at the point when I didn’t know what was worse–let her starve, or feed her food that was bad for her. I thought I’d allow her to eat regular cat food and re-introduce the special stuff to her, but in a couple of days, she tired of the regular food too. All she would eat was kitty treats. Since she’d lost weight, I figured that couldn’t hurt. But then I noticed how much water she drank. A lot of water for a cat. That scared me even more than the hunger strike.

Dr. Lott said only two things caused a cat to drink that much water–diabetes and kidney failure. Bug didn’t have diabetes.

I miss both my girls. I miss Tom, and he’s been gone for a while now. We’re trying to get PB to understand her place in the family now, keep her from shying away from the kitchen–apparently Belle and Bug told her it was off limits unless she could go in alone. I’m trying to teach her that she is no longer to take her meals in the living room, that the bowl on the fireplace mantle is no longer there.

She’s an odd little girl, but we love her. We just have to undo the damage done by the big cats. Still, I miss my big cats.

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Especially for Writers

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Big Ol’ Flop

flop 2Remember my post from a couple of weeks ago, “Adventures in Writing“? I told you I was trying to write without going back to edit, that I knew my first chapter in Riding Herd was awful and would need changing, but I intended to forge ahead and fix it later.

lied. Talk about the whopper of all fish tales!

Aside from the fact the first chapter reeked like fermented catfish bait, it introduced a subplot that no longer fit with the direction the story was taking. Too much going on to weave that thread smoothly into place. It had to go–which meant every reference to it had to go too.

No matter how hard I tried, knowledge of this hovered over my head like a drone with a recorded message: Ain’t gonna work, gal. Give it up. I was completely stymied. I couldn’t go forward unless I dealt with what I’d written in the past (kinda like a sin that needs to be forgiven and rectified before your prayers stop bouncing off the ceiling and you can move on).

I could no longer ignore the need to edit. So, last Friday, I gave up on the idea of writing in haste and editing in leisure. I’ll still edit in leisure once this thing is finished, but the “writing in haste” part bit the dust. I couldn’t stand it any longer. I ripped out the first chapter entirely and reconstructed the second chapter to function in its place. It’ll have to be rewritten and polished, of course, but at least it won’t nag at me as I concentrate on the plot and remaining subplot. Now I’m stripping out all the remnants and dealing with the logistics of dialogue based on its previous existence.

The good news is that I was only a quarter into the story, so it won’t take long to edit out all the bad stuff relating to that one subplot. The bad news is that I’m only a quarter into the story, with a pie-in-the-sky deadline of March 31st to finish–and “finish” here includes my first full edit before I send it to my critters.

But I refuse to give up! Even though I will be gone for two weeks out of the next six, I intend to write the end by March 31. The edit itself may not happen until April, but I still want to have it finished by the end of March.

Hold me accountable, people!

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Lightweight Pronunciation Guide

Womans Mouth Wide Open With Red Lipstick.Not long ago, I listened to a sermon in which I learned a word I didn’t know. It was displayed on the screen above the speaker: brephos.  The word is Greek, and it means both embryo and newborn, but I didn’t remember that until I looked it up a minute ago. Now, I can even remember what the sermon was about–how very precious life is from conception to death.

But, up until I looked it up again, the only thing I could remember was how it was pronounced: brep-hoss. The mispronunciation drove me nuts every time I heard it, so its definition didn’t stick with me. It dawned on me that people aren’t being taught linguistics anymore. For many, a “linguist” is a person who speaks many languages. That’s not an accurate definition. A linguist is someone who is proficient in linguistics–“the science of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and historical linguistics” (dictionary.com).

It’s been years since I studied linguistics, but I remember a few basic principles, though I’ve forgotten tons more. But let me share a bit about what I remember.

When a language that has an alphabet different from ours is translated into English, certain pronunciation guidelines are followed. Today they seem odd, even the source of confusion and jokes about the English language. But the guidelines help to keep pronunciation uniform across these translated languages. Even so-called “dead” languages have words we still use, and if we know how to pronounce them, we’ll know how to pronounce others.

So let’s look at the Greek word “brephos” and see what else has that “ph” combination–

  • phobia
  • phrase
  • euphoria
  • physics
  • Epaphras (a name found in Paul’s letter to the Colossians)

Using this guide, we can pronounce brephos.

One of the earliest words in the Bible that throws people for a loop is the simple town of Ai. This one is my favorite because it illustrates exactly what I’m talking about:

  • Cairo
  • Saigon
  • Sinai
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • aisle
  • acai (another commonly mispronounced word)

These words are from languages that have alphabets different from ours and different from each other. To assure uniform pronunciation, however, they were translated using certain linguistic guidelines.

There’s also the long a sound of the “ei” combination–lei, neighbor, Taipei, weigh–but that one’s a killer because “seize” and “heist” also have the combination. That’s when it helps to know where the word came from, but we can’t always know when a word we use daily comes from Old French, Old English, or American slang.

However, there are a couple of websites that help tremendously: Phonics on the Web and Online Etymology Dictionary.  If you’re a language and word lover like me, these two will come in handy. If you just want to make sure you’re not mispronouncing something, these sites will help.

And I hope I helped.

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A Heart Deceived, a Review

A Heart DeceivedMichelle Griep has single-handedly renewed my love for Regency Romance. A Heart Deceived is no bodice ripper, something I tired of long ago. It’s an intriguing tale of a young, unmarried woman who must keep her brother’s growing insanity a secret–or he’d end up in an asylum, and she’d end up homeless.

Michelle’s  characters are as real and complex as her plot. She included a couple of men in there who I still want to smack upside the head. But her true gift as an author is in her ability to sink the reader in the setting. Of course, nothing enhances the ability to describe a scene better than life-long study and physically seeing the country. Michelle doesn’t keep us in a pristine home with blooming flowers and birds chirping. She takes us out for a walk along the waterfront, where the danger lies and poverty abounds and the need to cover our noses with a lacy kerchief is overpowering.

This story illustrates the difference between God’s saving grace, and man’s pharisaic twisting of His laws. Definitely worth the read.

I enjoyed Michelle’s novel so much, I have her newest, Brentwood’s Wardon my TBR list.

griepPlace an unpolished lawman named Nicholas Brentwood as guardian over a spoiled, pompous beauty named Emily Payne and what do you get? More trouble than Brentwood bargains for. She is determined to find a husband this season. He just wants the large fee her father will pay him to help his ailing sister. After a series of dire mishaps, both their desires are thwarted, but each discovers that no matter what, God is in charge

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Out of Order

Flu Allergy. Sick Girl Sneezing In Tissue. HealthIt’s like this: the man came home sick last week and stayed home a couple of days. We did everything possible to keep me from getting sick, too, but it didn’t work.

I spent the weekend in a Benadryl fog, asleep more than awake. This morning I feel drugged.

Therefore, kids, this is my post for Monday. Forgive me as I return to the sneezing and congestion and Benadryl fog. See y’all later.

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