Thursday, December 17, 2009

Success

Earlier this year, I was experiencing some self doubt. It seemed like I was never going to find a publisher and I began to wonder if I was good enough to get published. I prayed for a sign that I was on the right track. That night, I had the following dream. Although it is not about being an author, the main character does experience the fulfillment of a life long dream.

My cell phone rang and I saw the call was from my sister, Dawn. Darn, I had meant to call her. “Happy Anniversary,” I greeted her.

“Thanks. Can you do me a big favor?”

“Do you need me to take care of the kids?”

“No, mom picked them up about a half hour ago.”

“Can I help with the meal?”

“I’ve got that under control. Could I borrow that gorgeous blue night gown you bought last year?”

I hadn’t even worn it yet but I figured after a year, it was a pretty good bet I wouldn’t be needing it any time soon. “Sure, I’ll bring it right over.”

When I arrived, the Irish linen table cloth was set for two with Dawn’s sparkling crystal, china, and silver. The aromas of Charlie’s favorites, lasagna and poppy seed torte assaulted my nose.

“Thank you! You’re a marriage savior.”

Dawn took the night gown out of the original packaging and shook it out. “It still has fold marks.”

I shrugged. “Maybe it was just meant for you. Consider it an anniversary gift.” It really frosted me that she would look better in it than I would have.

She laughed. At first I thought maybe she had read my mind but then she said, “It reminds me of a joke I heard. An elderly woman wanted to surprise her husband on their anniversary so she met him at the door in the nude. He said, ‘Your night gown needs ironing’.”

I laughed. “That should be grounds for divorce, right there. Anything else I can do to help?”

“No I just need to shower and dress.”

“Hang the night gown in the shower while you are showering. It might steam out those folds.” I gave her a hug. “Have a romantic evening.” I turned the doorknob and she said, “Oh wait, I have something for you too.” She ran into the bedroom and came back with a ticket.

“What’s this for?”

“Never mind; just go tonight.” She gave me a quick hug. “Good luck. You can do it. I have faith in you.” She practically shoved me out the door in an effort to prevent me from asking any questions. As she closed the door behind me she said, “I love you.”

Nothing on the ticket gave me a clue what it was for. The only information was the time and place. I didn’t even know how I should dress. I settled on a simple burgundy dress I knew looked good on me.

When I arrived, all of the comfortable seating had been claimed except for a couch. There was a sleazy looking guy seated at one end so I sat at the other end as far from him as possible. Apparently he took the term ‘lounge lizard’ literally. In less than a minute he was trying to lounge all over me. I pushed him off and onto the floor. As I got up, I scanned the room for another comfortable chair. I spotted one and headed over to it but another woman beat me to it. I narrowly escaped sitting in her lap.

In another area of the room I saw several metal folding chairs. At least I wouldn’t be fighting with anyone over them. After I was seated, I tried to eavesdrop on the conversations around me but nobody was discussing the pending event.

Suddenly, the room erupted in applause. Searching for the source, I saw Joyce Anthony, a very popular singer. She sang her biggest hit and then she started another song. As she sang, she walked around handing the microphone to various people. Some were only allowed to sing a line or two before she handed the mike to the next person. Others, with better voices, were permitted to sing longer. When she came to me, she had just started singing a fresh song. She still hadn’t removed the microphone after I completed the song. The audience was silent as she encouraged me to sing another. When I was done, the audience broke out in thunderous applause. She smiled at me and handed me a card. Then she moved on. The rest of the night was a blur. I could only focus on the card that read, “Congratulations! You have been chosen to perform at 7 tomorrow night at the Atrium Theatre.” It was the strangest audition I had ever seen.

When I called my sister the next morning, she thanked me again and told me her husband thanked me too. “How did the audition go?”

“I’m singing at the Atrium tonight.”

“Congratulations, I knew you could do it. When I saw the ticket being offered for the audition, I naturally thought of you.”

“Thank you.”

“I’ll take you tonight. I can’t wait to hear you perform.”

My sister knew me too well. She knew if I had known about the audition, I would have chickened out and she knew if she left me to my own devices, I would never show up tonight.

When we arrived, all of my demons of self doubt were running rampant. There were five people who had won a performance opportunity from the previous night. I was scheduled as the last singer.

Upon seeing the size of the audience, I lost what little confidence I had left. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this,” I said to Joyce Anthony.

“Think of it this way,” she advised. “Last night was for you. Tonight is for them.” She indicated the audience. “Tonight you represent all of their hopes and dreams for success, whatever they might be. Tonight you affirm for them that anything is possible.”

As I walked onto the stage, I prayed I wouldn’t fail them. The standing ovation afterward confirmed I had never sung better.

I realized, success isn’t achieved or enjoyed alone.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Excerpt from my newest book "The Girl Who Loved Rudolph"

My brother knocked on my door and entered. “How come you want to get rid of all of your toys?”

I didn’t know how to explain so I just shrugged.

“Even Beethoven?” Brian knew I still slept with the old earless bear.

I kept meaning to find a way to replace his ears but never got around to it. After awhile, I convinced myself it lent him character.

I threw the bear on the floor. “Leave me alone.” I turned my back on Brian. He sighed and I heard him leave. When I turned around again, Beethoven was gone too.

I got up to slam the door and Brian, who had come back to my room, stopped me. “You’re being a brat. Mom and Dad worked hard to get you those toys.”

Once I started sobbing, I couldn’t seem to stop. Brian flopped down on my bed and waited patiently. When I finally stopped crying he said, “You ready to talk now?”

“You wouldn’t understand. You’re real.”

“So what are you? Phony?”

“You’re their real son and they are your real family. You belong here; I don’t.”

He remained silent a few moments, thinking that over. “Have Mom and Dad ever made you feel like they love you less than me?”

“No.”

“Have they ever left you out of any of the family activities?”

“No.”

“Have I ever acted like I didn’t want you as my little sis?”

“No.”

“How much more real can it get?”

“I could be their real kid, like you.”

“After they had me, they were told they couldn’t have any more kids. They really wanted another child so they decided to give you a home. You couldn’t be any more wanted or loved if you had been born to them.”

“Did you know?”

“Of course. I was here when they brought you home. You were pretty boring back then. All you did was cry, sleep, and eat. I couldn’t wait until you were old enough to play games. Brian smiled. “I remember it was winter when you first got here. I’d go outside with Rufus, wishing you were big enough to help me build a snowman. Rufus was no help. He was just a pup then. He kept jumping on the snowballs and breaking them as I tried to roll them.”

I laughed. Brian always knew how to make me laugh. “He never stopped doing that.”

“Yes, but between the two of us, we managed to keep him occupied with his own snowballs to smash.”

I knew it would make him uncomfortable but I gave Brian a quick hug anyway.

“Go wash your face and hands. It’s time for dinner.”

“What did you do with Beethoven?”

“I thought I’d try to give him some ears.”

“What will we call him, then?”

“I dunno. Mozart?”

“Hey Brian?”

“Yeah?”

“I love you.”

“Yeah. Me too. Now get going before Mom starts hollering that the meal’s getting cold.”

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Flickertail & Paint in The Christmas Cria

Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse were building a snow horse in the freshly fallen snow when Alice stopped by to visit with Mary.

“I’m really worried about my granddaughter, Lynn,” they heard Alice say to Mary.

“I hope she doesn’t have that nasty flu that’s going around,” said Mary.
“No. She’s really missing her pet lamb. My son, Jeff and his wife, Sheila have been having a hard time of it. She lost her job and they depended on her income to help buy feed for the animals. They’ve had to sell them all. Lynn’s lamb was her 4H project and she was really attached to that lamb. She seems depressed to me. She doesn’t have any interest in any of the things we used to do together. She always loved helping me decorate the tree and make Christmas cookies.”

“Is she old enough to understand the situation?”

Alice nodded. “She should be. She just isn’t accepting it very well.”

“When is Lynn coming to visit with you again?”

“Sheila has a job interview this afternoon and she is dropping Lynn off.”

“Well, I hope Sheila gets the job.”

“I do too, but they’ve gotten so behind on their bills that I don’t think they will be able to buy back Lynn’s lamb even if Sheila does get the job.”

“Why not bring Lynn over here? She might enjoy playing with all of the animals.”

“It’s certainly worth a try. I’ll bring her by around 2 o’clock.”

Alice left and Mary went back in the house.

Flickertail said, “Poor little girl. I wonder how we can help make her visit here special.”

“Cinnamon had a baby a few months ago. I’ll bet Lynn would love playing with a baby llama. He’s soft and wooly like a lamb.” Paint recommended.

“Great idea. Let’s go talk with Cinnamon.”

“Let me see if Princess still has the pretty sweater she made for her cria to help keep her warm. Snowball can go outside to play in the snow with Lynn,” said Cinnamon.

When Lynn and Alice arrived, Cinnamon and Snowball were ready and waiting for her.

“Awww,” said Lynn. “Can I play with the cute little baby llama, Grandma?”

“If it’s OK with Mary.”

“Of course. Just be really gentle,” said Mary.

“I know. I had to be gentle with my lamb too. What’s his name?”

“Snowball. He’s a cria.”

“What’s a cria?”

“A baby llama.”

“How come he’s wearing a sweater?”

“I guess he wants to play outside with you.”

“Oh goodie. Can he walk around an agility course yet?”

“No, why don’t you teach him?”

Mary and Alice got the obstacles from the tack room and Lynn helped set them up outside. She set up a ramp, a flat bridge and another ramp for the other side of the bridge. “I’ll just start out with this for now.”

Very patiently, she taught Snowball how to walk up the ramp, across the bridge, and down the other ramp. After a few tries, he did it perfectly and Lynn gave him a llama treat and a hug. “What a good boy! You are so smart,” she said.

“Do you want to try walking him through a tire next?”

“No. I’ll think I’ll just take him for a little walk, now to relax him. I don’t want to tire him out too much. Can I come back tomorrow to work with him some more?”

Mary smiled and nodded. “If it’s OK with your grandma and your parents.”

“It’s fine with me,” said Alice, “But you’ll have to ask your mom.”

Lynn came by every day after school and on weekends to work with Snowball.
One day Mary said to Lynn, “You have done such a great job training Snowball, I think he is ready to be in the Christmas Parade. I just don’t have the time to be in the parade. Would you walk with him?”

“Ooo yes. Could I make a costume for him and enter him in the costume contest too?”

“That sounds like fun. What kind of costume will you make?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll have to think about it.”

“Well, if you need any help, let me know. I might have some old material and other things around here you could use.”

“Thanks Mary.”

A few days later, Lynn was rummaging around in the barn. She found the peacock costume Flickertail and Paint had made to camouflage William, the turkey during Thanksgiving. She ran with it to find Mary. “This is great. Can I use this?”

Flickertail followed her, wondering what she was doing with the costume.
Noticing Flickertail’s concern, Mary laughed. “I think you’d better ask Flickertail. It’s his costume. He made it for William.”

“You knew about that?” Flickertail asked.

“You should know by now, you can’t hide much from me around here. You’ve been hiding William for the last three Thanksgivings. I have to admire your loyalty. You and Paint really outdid yourself this year though.”

“You mean we wouldn’t have had to hide him? Why didn’t you say something?”

“I was having too much fun watching you and Paint come up with clever ideas.”

“So is it OK, Flickertail?” Lynn interrupted.

Flickertail shrugged, “It doesn’t look like William will be needing it again.”

“Sorry to spoil your fun, Flickertail,” said Mary.

“It’s alright, I guess. I just feel kind of silly.”

“Being a caring friend is never silly.” Mary gave Flickertail a hug.

“It will probably need some adjustments to fit Snowball. Paint and I can help with that.”

Lynn, Flickertail and Paint worked on the costume until it fit Snowball perfectly.
The next Saturday, Lynn and Snowball won the blue ribbon for the best costume. When she brought Snowball back, Lynn ran into the barn by Flickertail, Paint, and Mary. She gave them each a hug and handed the ribbon to them.

“All of you deserve this for being the best friends I ever had. Thanks to all of you and Snowball this is the best Christmas ever.”

Monday, November 30, 2009

Flickertail and Paint in the Weeping Willow



Flickertail the Llama and Paint the Horse were watching TV when they saw an ad for an auto insurance company. It talked about a driver hitting a tree and mentioned how to get information from the other driver.

“I’m blaming the tree,” said Flickertail. “It should have barked out a warning.”

“At the very least, it should have planted itself in a different location,” agreed Paint.

“What kind of a vehicle do you suppose the tree was driving?”

“I don’t know but it had a trunk.”

“Maybe it was a Subaru Forester.”

“I’ll bet the other driver was a Forest Ranger.”

“It did happen in a National Forest Park.”

“Do you think the tree suffered from any broken limbs?”

“I think the tree should be charged with inattentive standing.”

“The tree was ticketed with paper from a former cousin who happened to be hit on Woodlawn Drive.”

“I guess the driver couldn’t see the forest for the tree.” “I hope the tree told the other driver to leaf it alone.”


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

another excerpt from "Where is My Family?"

“Did you have a good time at Karen’s?” Mom asked.

“It was OK.”

“Only OK?”

“I only knew a few of the kids.”

“Did you make any new friends?”

“Well, there was one really cute boy. I think he was 16. He was flirting with me.”

Mom looked horrified.

I laughed. “Don’t worry, he danced and flirted with all of the girls. He even flirted with Karen’s grandma. If you’d been there, he would have flirted and danced with you too.”

“Well, I’m glad you enjoyed yourself. It wasn’t so bad meeting new people, was it?”

“I guess not.”

I wasn’t comfortable around strangers but there was no sense worrying her. I guess I am just one of those people who isn’t good in social situations.

I knocked on Brian’s door. “Oh good, you’re back. I found some websites you might want to look at. They have forums for adopted and foster kids. They might help you find your mom.”

“Do you think I should find her?”

“Only if you do. I think I’d want to know things like, do I look like my mom? You have a good singing voice. Wouldn’t you like to know if you got that from your mom? Maybe she can tell you something about your father and what he was like. There might even be some health issues you should know about, that could affect you.”

“I never even thought about the health stuff. My case worker said she would help me find her if I want.”

“Well, check out the forums anyway. They may help you decide.”

“OK. Thanks, Brian.” I took the sheet of paper he gave me with the list of websites and turned to go to my room.

“Hey, Beck?”

“Yeah?”

“Let me know if there is anything I can do to help, OK? Even if you just need a shoulder or an ear, huh?”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Flickertail & Paint Hide William

“Paint, I need your help.” Flickertail, the llama emailed Paint, the horse. “It’s less than two weeks until Thanksgiving and we need to find a good place to hide William, the turkey. The meteorologist on the Weather Channel is predicting snow by the end of the week and I want to get him hidden before then. It’ll be too easy to track him in the snow.”

“Is it cold in the barn? You know how I hate the cold. I always get a hoarse throat when it’s cold and damp.”

“Well, I’m sure a Texas Rose like you will feel the cold a lot more than I do.”

“I’ll ask Norma if I can borrow a space heater.”

“Better make it two. The barn’s a big space.”

Paint arrived with only one space heater. “Norma said she might need one for herself.”

“Maybe I can borrow another one from Mary for you.”

“Better not tell her I’m here to hide William or she’ll let me freeze.”

“Do you have any good ideas for hiding William?”

“Maybe we could disguise him.”

“As what?”

“How about a hamster?”

“His tail’s too big for that.”

“The AFLAC duck?”

“You quack me up. Seriously, I don’t think he could fake a waddle.”

“The Geiko Gecko?”

“Well, he does believe in being green but even he isn’t green enough for that.”

“I guess we’d better forget about disguising him.”

Flickertail wiggled his long, banana shaped ears in thought. “Last year, we hid him in the tunnel between the barn and the basement of the house. The year before, we hid him in the concealed room in the house. We can’t use those again now that Mary and Tom know about them.”

“Does G.G. eat turkey?”

“Alice feeds her cat food with turkey in it, why?”

“That won’t work then. I was thinking he could hide there.”

“If G.G. didn’t eat him, Alice probably would.”

“I know. We can hide him in the hen house. He can pretend to be a rooster.”

“He doesn’t crow. He gobbles, but that does give me an idea.” Flickertail opened a bag filled with llama wool and dyed it a brilliant shade of blue. “Help me knit this so it will fit over William’s head and body. We need to hide his wattle.”

Paint was perplexed but Flickertail seemed to know what he was doing so she went along with his plan.

“Now, we need about five or six matching pompoms and white pipe cleaners for a crest.”

“Oh, I get it, now.”

“It’s the only fowl I could think of that has a tail bigger than William’s.”

They worked on the tail all through the night. When they had finished, William tried on his new disguise.

“I love it.” William strutted around proud as a peacock. “Thank you both. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your keeping me safe every Thanksgiving. At least this year I can hide in plain sight.”

Thanksgiving came. Mary’s and Tom’s family arrived. About a half hour later everyone left. “Where’d everyone go?” Flickertail asked the house dogs, Cookie and Coco.

“They decided to go out to eat this year. No leftovers for us,” Cookie said sadly.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Where is My Family? (Working Title)

This is a start on a new book idea I have for foster children. It will continue with the child's search for his or her family (haven't decided on the gender yet) and will end on a positive and upbeat note.

I'm writing it for an 8 to 10 year old audience. That's about the age foster kids are usually told.

I hope it will help foster children learn to accept and deal with what, for me, was a traumatic revelation.


Today, I was told I am a foster child. The people I thought were my family, aren’t. The boy who shared so many good and bad times, isn’t my brother.
I think that hurts even more than knowing my parents aren’t my mom and dad.
We learned to ice skate together. When our dog died, we comforted each other. We played store with empty boxes and cans. He taught me to read. He outgrew his clothes and they were passed down to me. When I wore them, I pretended I was him, as if in wearing them, I could capture some of the magic that was my big brother. Can we ever be close again?
I was told I am special because I was chosen. I wonder how that makes him feel.
Even my toys seem to be mocking me. My favorite teddy with the perpetual smile is laughing at me. I asked my mom, who is not my mom, to give them all away.
I feel like I have been living a lie.
Tomorrow is a school day. Do the other kids already know? Maybe that’s why they think I am weird. I think I’ll pretend to be sick. Maybe I won’t have to pretend. I feel sick.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Doors

Doors

When we were young and towers of strength,
We were fearless and the future was surmountable.
We thought we could handle all that awaited us.
We even thought we could predict what awaited us.

As we gained years, we gained experience
And knowledge, aplenty so we thought.
We still believed we were invincible
Despite that which tried to convince us otherwise.

Older now, but not necessarily wiser
Life has not always been so kind as we believed it would be
But we muddled through and now we acknowledge
That we had no clue what the future would hold.

Perhaps that’s just as well
We might have given up before we started
And we never would have achieved what we did
It’s hard to open the door when you don’t know what’s on the other side.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Another Excerpt From "The Steamer Trunk"

“You grew up here in the Bahamas, didn’t you John?”

“Yes, my parents moved here from England before I was born.”

“Do you know why the pirates would have hidden so much liquor in the caves around here? Were they smuggling it?”

“Yes. The pirates made money by running the liquor to the heavily taxed colonies.”

“So, this rum running is nothing new in the Bahamas.”

“It’s been going on in one form or another since the 15th century but Prohibition in the U.S. has increased the demand like never before.”

Rob grinned mischievously. “You feeling like a little adventure?”

John laughed as he headed his boat back toward Nassau. “I thought you’d never ask.”

Under John’s skillful navigation, they caught up with the officer’s boat quickly. Dan and Bob grinned and waved. “We had a bet on how long it would take you to show up.” Dan yelled over the noise of the engine.

“You know us too well,” John hollered back.

Soon afterward Dan cut his engine and eased his boat into a concealed lagoon. John followed suit. “What’s up?” asked John.

“Look over there.”

The men watched through binoculars as Theo and his men pulled up to a schooner. They off loaded several cases of liquor from their boats. “Looks like they had other sources of contraband than just Mark,” John observed.

“Is this undiluted?” they heard the Captain ask.

“Sure is.”

The captain selected one of the bottles at random opened it and handed it to one of his crew. He tasted it and nodded.

“Wonder why he didn’t just taste it himself,” Bob said.

“That’s Bill McCoy,” said Rob. “He’s a teetotaler. He wouldn’t have accepted that liquor if it had been diluted and he only deals in quality brand names.”

After he’d been paid, Theo and his men pulled away from the schooner and proceeded toward America.

“Darn,” said Dan. “The Coast Guard can’t arrest them for having empty boats.”

“Maybe they held some back for themselves,” said Bob, hopefully.

“It sounded like Theo was concerned about the Coast Guard catching them. Wasn’t that why he had Sam and Timothy load some of it in Timothy’s boat?” Rob asked.

“Maybe it was just coincidence that they ran into the schooner and they decided to take advantage of it,” John guessed.

“Are you going to keep following them, Dan?”

Dan shrugged. “No point.”

They waited until the schooner was out of sight to go back to JJ’s Island.

A few days later JJ's Police Department received a report from the Coast Guard.

Monday, November 2, 2009

A sneak peak at my novel in progress: The Steamer Trunk

A knock on the cabin door startled Heather out of her nap. “Who is it?” she asked sleepily.
“Cabin Steward; we dock in five minutes.”
“Thank you.”

As she threw cold water on her face from the sink in the tiny bathroom she remembered the jokes she had heard about ship’s cramped cabins and lavatory facilities. She wouldn’t miss the lack of stretching room in both.
The large awkward trunk she was struggling to maneuver out the door had only helped to make the space more confining. But the villagers would be surprised by what was inside it.

One hundred years before, her great great grandfather had traveled these same waters to bring it to the newly founded village but he had had dysentery. He, his wife, and infant son had been dropped off at one of the ports along the way to seek treatment for him but he had died at the age of 25.

She smiled as she thought about how astonished the people would be to see her and the contents of the trunk when she presented it at their centennial celebration.
When Heather and her trunk touched terra firma she assessed her immediate surroundings. Directly ahead of her were a restaurant and a gift shop. To the left was a car rental place and to the right was her hotel. She decided to go to the hotel first so she could unpack the trunk and make arrangements to secure the carefully wrapped item.

She unpacked her jeans, polo shirts, a lightweight jacket, and a couple of dresses. Next she carefully removed the costume she had hired a costume designer to make, based on a painting she had of her great great grandmother, Virginia. Everyone in the family said Heather looked just like her, right down to her abundance of strawberry blonde hair, her slender frame, and her classic features.

Heather was looking forward to the Centennial to wear the soft blue gored flared skirt with darker blue embroidered flowers. Its high waist was sashed in matching blue satin. A matching bolero jacket had embroidered flowers on the gigantic leg of mutton sleeves and along the open sides and hem of the bolero. A high necked white tucked blouse with a lacy floppy artist’s bow completed the costume. Smiling, she hung up the ensemble in anticipation of the big day.

She would wear her hair in the same style as her ancestor’s portrait. Caught up in a plaited bun atop her head with soft tendrils framing her face and longer curls at her nape, she bore an even stronger resemblance to Virginia than usual. Like her, she would not wear a hat but would opt for some blue plumes in her hair.
Finally she unpacked the unexpected gift she had brought for the community, her real purpose for the visit. It had waited almost a century to be back in its rightful place.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Catnip Chronicles

I love this site. If you are a cat lover check it out. Informative and humorous. Catnip Chronicles

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What is a Drabble?

According to Answers.com "A drabble is an extremely short work of fiction exactly one hundred words in length, although the term is often incorrectly used to indicate a short story of fewer than 1000 words. The purpose of the drabble is brevity and to test the author's ability to express interesting and meaningful ideas in an extremely confined space."

Here are some examples of drabbles written by me. The 100 words are as counted by MS Word, which is what we used in our drabble contests.

A Final Act of Love

Every morning, for 14 years, Patches ran around the outside of the house three times. This morning she threw herself into the activity until she was just a brown streak but after her run, she fell to the ground. Her eyes were unfocused and she seemed disoriented. She struggled to get up but each time she collapsed.
Sadly, Mary picked her up and took her to the vet. As the vet injected the shot, Mary sobbed. Although she knew there was nothing more she could do for her old and loyal friend, she felt like she was betraying a trust.

A Perfect Property Except . . .

On a Sunday morning drive we noticed a scenic property with an octagon barn and an octagon house.
My heart leapt when I noticed the For Sale sign. It would be a perfect Bed and Breakfast.
We pulled the brass knocker on the substantial wooden door. Upon entering we fell in love with the spiral staircase, leading to a massive master bedroom with a romantic balcony.
We went to lunch to discuss our offer. One of the restaurant’s customers overheard us. “My octogenarian grandfather hung himself in that barn.”
We told the Realtor we’d decided to look for another property.

The Eyes of Texas

An anonymous source at eBay reported a moldy bread auction that ended today with a $100,000 bid. The mold is shaped like the state of Texas.
The seller, Norma owns Paint, the horse half of the sensational llama and horse team of private investigators known as Flickertail & Paint. Flickertail and Paint are the heroes of a series of children’s’ stories including such favorites as Flickertail & Paint in Scotland, Flickertail & Paint in Ireland, The Christmas Caper, and The Missing Pigtails
Disclaimer: Since mold grows, the winning bidder is not guaranteed a Texas shaped mold upon receiving the bread.

If Only

I’d been thinking, if only we had bought the Italianate in the country that we both loved so much, our dreams of a Bed & Breakfast and llama ranch would have been fulfilled and I wouldn’t be sitting here now wondering what if.
Instead, I would be keeping rooms cleaned, bedding fresh, and llamas fed. I’d be meeting new friends and having fun planning and making delicious breakfasts. I’d be getting fresh flowers from the gardens for the guest rooms.
On a whim, I drove past the place today. It’s been torn down to make room for a new highway.

Jeff’s and Katy’s Secret


The floating log didn’t protect Jeff from the debris battering his weakening body. As he was about to lose his grip, it lodged against temporarily stationary debris. Jeff pulled his body onto the shore. Looking for shelter, he found a teddy bear. He curled up against it and fell asleep.
Jeff awakened to the sound of crying. He followed the sound and dropped the bear by the girl’s feet. “Fuzzy!” Katy hugged Jeff. For the next few days Jeff and Katy shared food and warmth. Rescuers found them snuggled together, asleep. “Is this your dog?” Katy winked at Jeff. “Yes.”


The Dress

Her dad was so proud of the dress when he brought it home for her.
She was invited to the prom but, tearfully, she said no. She knew her dad couldn’t afford to buy a gown and she had no mother to make one for her.
“I’ll see what I can do. You shouldn’t miss your prom.” Her dad hugged her.
By the time he earned the gown for her, the boy had asked someone else. She went alone and no one danced with her. She went home crying. And her dad held her in his arms and they danced.

The Super Bowl, According to Dogs

“What a boring football game! Lots of goodies on the coffee table. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?’
“I’m thinking of snatching that sausage and running for a touch down.”
“OK, go for it and I’ll block for you to stall them. “
“I’ll grab it when they least expect it.”
“Quick, they’re preoccupied right now by the Budweiser ad.”
“Oh, no, she saw you grab it. Look out, he‘s trying to tackle you. Don’t worry. I’ve got your back. Head for the kitchen and save half for me.”
“Oh, was I supposed to share?”
“Brat! Next time you block.”


For fun, give it a try.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Flickertail & Paint in the Halloween Party

“Have you decided what kind of a costume you will wear to Mary’s and Tom’s Halloween Party?’ The barnyard was abuzz with the animals’ party plans.
Since G.G. stood for Grey Ghost, she thought it would be appropriate for her to wear a ghost costume but in grey rather than the traditional white. Everyone agreed she would be really scary. She would blend in with the shadows and with her soft cat-feet no one would hear her sneak up on them. She could get so close she could tickle them with her whiskers and purr or meow. “You can bet that’ll make most of the guests scream,” said William, the Turkey.
“Are you going as a turkey?” asked G.G.
“No, too dangerous. Thanksgiving is just around the corner. I thought I’d go as a huge rat. Nobody’d eat a rat for Thanksgiving.”
“I would.” G.G. licked her mouth.
“You can’t go as a rat. I’m going as a rat,” said Rollie.
“What kind of a disguise is that? You ARE a rat,” said William.
“Exactly, nobody would ever think I’d go as myself.”
“Your odor will give you away.” G.G. grinned like the Cheshire Cat.
“Are you implying that I stink like a dirty rat?”
“You smell like food to me.”
“Everything smells like food to you.”
“Are you calling me a fat Cat, you bozo! Maybe you should go as a clown, Rollie.”
“Has anyone heard what the house dogs, Cookie and Coco are going as?” asked Paint the Horse.
“Probably humans,” giggled Rollie. “Mary and Tom treat them like human babies.”
“I heard Randy, the Ram and Sheila, the Sheep are going as a couple,” gossiped Gladys, the Goose.
“A couple of what?” asked Rollie.
“She’s going as Little Red Riding Hood and he’s going to dress as a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
“Are you going as Mother Goose?” quipped Rollie.
“Why not? I heard Carla the Cow is going as a bull.”
“Hey Flickertail, are you going as a wooly bully? Or maybe the Dali Lama? Oh, I know. I’ll bet you’re going as a Ramma Ramma Ding Dong.” Rollie rolled on the ground with laughter.
Flickertail laughed too. “Maybe I’ll go as a Bahama Llama,” he said.
“You and Paint should go as Sherlock and Dr. Watson,” suggested G.G.
Flickertail shook his head. “Too elementary.”
“What about Poirot and Captain Hastings?” said G.G.
“I rather liked Mrs. Oliver in Halloween Party,” exclaimed Henrietta, the Hen. “If you two go as Poirot and Hastings, I’ll be Mrs. Oliver.”
“What a clever idea!” said Paint. “We could all dress as characters from Halloween Party and reenact it.”
“Who wants to be the teenaged girl who was drowned while she was bobbing for apples in a house called The Apples, because she claimed she saw a murder?”
“Oooh me. I’ll be Joyce,” G.G. volunteered.
“Hastings wasn’t in Halloween Party,” Flickertail pointed out. “You’ll have to be Superintendent Spence, Paint.”
“No problem,” agreed Paint.
“I’ll be Leopold Reynolds, Joyce’s brother, who was also murdered when he tried to blackmail the killer,” said William the Turkey.
“I want to be Olga. I get to inherit Mrs. Llwellyn Smyth’s money when she adds a codicil and disinherits the Drakes,” said Gladys the Goose.
“You do recall that Olga’s goose is cooked and she never gets to see any of that money, right?” G.G. reminded her.
“I’ll be the forger, Lesley Ferrier, who tries to make it look like Olga forged the codicil,” said Frank the Ferret.”
“I’ll be Rowena Drake,” said Mallory the Duck. “At least, I’ll be one of the few main characters who isn’t killed.”
“I’ll be Michael Garfield. I get to create a magical sunken garden. I’ve always wanted to do something creative with dirt.” Rollie laughed manically.
“You are a dirty rat, after all.” G.G. shook her head. “I knew it.”
“Is everyone willing to take the time to rehearse until Halloween?” asked Flickertail.
Everyone agreed and the barnyard was full of props, apples, and animals for the next several days. They all busied themselves building backdrops, while Mary and Tom tried to guess what they were up to. When Mary finally asked Flickertail, he just smiled and said, “You’ll see.”
There was much excitement in the barnyard the night of the Halloween Party. Every animal, including Cookie and Coco, had roles in the play. None of the humans knew what to expect, but afterward everyone in attendance agreed it was a Halloween Party they would never forget.
Mary made a comment about how many of the characters “bought the farm.” Almost everyone decided to stay away from apples for awhile.
And like Mrs. Oliver, many adopted dates as their new favorite snack, at least temporarily.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Flickertail & Paint, Nobel Peace Prize Candidates

Flickertail the llama & Paint the horse should win a Nobel Prize. They are peace keepers and peace lovers. They understand the value of teamwork, love, and friendship. They teach morality, history, and geography. They believe in helping others however they can. I think I will nominate them as candidates for next year.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths by Mary Russel

Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths by Mary Russel has been accepted by a publisher and will be available soon.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Flickertail & Paint Have a Garage Sale

“Mary and Tom mentioned going to a yard sale today,” said Flickertail, the llama.
“Why would anyone sell their yard? How would you get it home?” asked Paint, the horse.
“No, it’s supposed to be a way of getting stuff you want or need at bargain prices and for people to get rid of stuff they no longer want.”
“Sounds like a great idea. We should have a barnyard sale.”
“OK. I have some llama beans for fertilizer. Phewww, I’ll be glad to get rid of that. We can sell it at bargain prices.”
“Here’s some old straw hats. You don’t need those, do you?”
“No, put 10 cents on each of them.”
“What about these pitch forks, shovels, tack, and blankets?”
“We’d better not sell any of those. Mary might get mad. She still uses them.”
“You’ve been talking about wanting a new laptop. This would be a good chance to sell your old one.”
“Right. Put a hundred on that.”
“What about this hideous and itchy horsehair couch? Furniture should never be covered in horsehair. It belongs on horses.”
“I never did like that thing. Mary must not like it either since she stuck it out here. We’ll put $50 on it. Oh here’s some llama wool sweaters, coats, scarves, blankets, toys, and other stuff Mary’s been meaning to sell. We can help her out with those.”
When they had everything priced and displayed in the barnyard they put up a sign.
By noon they had only sold one straw hat for a nickel and G.G., the cat had borrowed $20 from Flickertail to go to the sale down the road.
They broke for lunch in the barn and put William, the turkey in charge of the sale. When they entered the barn there were strangers in the tack room trying on the llama wool clothing. Another stranger was drinking the last of the soda Mary and Tom stored in the barn’s refrigerator. Someone offered $500 for the used truck Mary had just bought for $5,000. Flickertail told him to go away.
When they finished their lunch and went back outside to relieve William, he was excited to tell them he had sold the shovel, pitchfork, feed, and hay for 50 cents. Horrified, Flickertail said “None of that was for sale.”
“Oh, I wondered why there were no price tags.”
At that point Paint noticed Mary’s new bicycle was missing and mentioned it to Flickertail. “Oh, William! PLEASE don’t tell me you sold Mary’s bike.”
“The neighbor kid is trying it out.”
About an hour later the neighbor’s husband from the garage sale down the road dropped by. “I’ll bet my wife would love that horsehair couch. I’ll give you $15 for it.”
Discouraged by the slow sales, Flickertail said, “Sold!”
A half hour later the neighbor came back with the antique couch. “My wife hates it.”
“Sorry, all sales are final.”
The neighbor took the couch back home.
At the end of the day, Flickertail and Paint tallied the total sales at $16.
G.G. came back from the neighbor’s yard sale. “Look what I bought!” she said triumphantly as the neighbor pulled into the yard with his truck. He dropped off the horsehair couch. “And I only paid $20 for it!”

Friday, October 2, 2009

Flickertail & Paint in the Missing Keys

Flickertail and Paint were relaxing in the barnyard under the shade of the apple tree. They were each enjoying an apple when they heard Mary calling frantically. “Flickertail, help. I lost my car keys.”
Flickertail looked inside the car while Paint checked the ground outside. Mary’s anxiety was growing as she was running late for an appointment.
“Sit down, relax.” Flickertail led her to a bench by the picnic table. “You aren’t going to find them any faster by panicking.”
“Take deep breaths.” Paint suggested. “Now close your eyes and remember the last time you saw your keys. What were you wearing?”
“It was warm like today. I was wearing my jean shorts and a tank top.”
“Check the pockets of your shorts,” said Flickertail.
Mary went into the house and checked. “Not there,” she said as she came back outside.
“Were you carrying anything?” asked Paint
“I already checked my purse.”
“Were you carrying anything else? Maybe packages or groceries?” prompted Flickertail.
“Groceries. I already unpacked them and put them away.”
“Go shake out the bags.”
Mary was getting frustrated again but she did as Flickertail suggested.
“Nothing.”
“OK, sit down again and relax.”
“I’m already late.”
“Flickertail handed her his cell phone. “Call and explain. You can reschedule. People lose keys all of the time. They’ll understand.”
Mary rescheduled for the next morning.
“Do you have a place where you usually put your keys?” Paint asked.
“In the glass bowl in the hallway as I enter the side door.”
“Did you use the back door since you had groceries? It’s closer to the kitchen,” said Flickertail.
“Oh my, yes I did. Now I can remember dropping them on the counter with the bags of groceries.”
“Do you mind if we come inside and help you check the counter, cupboards, and floor?”
Mary held the back door open as they entered.
Paint checked the back stairs, a ledge, and the kitchen floor while Mary and Flickertail checked the counter first and then the cupboards. After several minutes Flickertail said, “Well, we checked everything with no luck. When did you get groceries?”
“Yesterday afternoon.”
“I’m sure I saw your car leave last night.”
“Oh, that’s right Tom took it. It was parked in back of the truck and he didn’t feel like moving it to get the truck, so he just used my car.”
Mary picked up the phone to call Tom. When she hung up the phone she was shaking her head. She walked over to the laundry basket, reached in and took out the jeans Tom had been wearing. She checked his pockets and there were the keys.
“Get an extra key made right away and keep it in your purse so you always have it on you. It comes in handy if you lock your keys in your car too.”
Later that day Flickertail and Paint presented Mary with a small package. She opened it and laughed. Then she hugged her animal friends. “We thought about getting you a key finder that responds to a whistle but Flickertail said you can’t whistle so this one works when you clap.”

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Flickertail & Paint in the Pigtail Caper

The Hairy Hogs were jealous of Wilma's Pigtails and had been planning to steal them for sometime now. "Tonight is the night," Head Hog chortled.

While Wilma soundly slept they clipped one pigtail but just as they were about to cut the other she rolled over onto it. Not wanting to risk awakening her they decided to wait for another opportunity.

They high tailed it out of there before she awoke completely just in time to hear her scream as she looked in the mirror.

Running in the snow was difficult and as one of them tripped and fell into the others the pigtail was dropped in the snow leaving a track. They quickly ran into the surrounding woods to hide when Peggy Pig noticed a Flying Cow from the Super Speedy Flying Cow Delivery Service overhead. "Can you fly this to our secret island in the Bahamas?" "Of course, it'll be there first thing tomorrow morning," promised the cow.

"You idiot," snorted Head Hog. "She's employed by Wilma."

"I thought the Flying Cows were independent cowtractors," said Peggy Pig.

As Carla Cow flew with the precious pigtail she passed over Rita's Bull with the cell phone in his ear. Carla accidentally dropped the pigtail without realizing that she did so. The pigtail attached itself to the cell phone's antenna. Billy Bull shook and shook his head but could not dislodge the pigtail.

Meanwhile Flickertail and Paint had been called to solve the case of the missing pigtail and had discovered the pigtail track and pig hoof tracks. "The hoof tracks backtrack here," Paint pointed out.

"Why do you supposed they stopped there and turned around? Maybe the pigs hid the pigtail in the tree there." Flickertail searched the tree while Paint pawed at the ground.

Carla Cow returned while they were searching. "What are you looking for?"

"Wilma's Pigtail has been snatched," they explained.

"I know, I have it right here." Carla's triumphant look quickly turned to concern as she realized she no longer had the pigtail. "Oh no, I must have dropped it somewhere."

"Draw us a map of your route."

Flickertail & Paint asked everyone they saw along the route if anyone had spied an erstwhile pigtail but nobody had. Eventually they made their way to Billy Bull where they couldn't miss the pigtail still hanging from his cell phone. After they explained the situation to Billy, he cheerfully parted with the pigtail.

Flickertail and Paint proceeded to Wilma's where they returned the pigtail only to discover that Wilma had decided to cut off her other pigtail so that her hair wouldn't look lopsided.

Being a compassionate person, she donated both pigtails to tailless pigs.

Flickertail and Paint had the Hairy Hogs arrested and Peggy Pig squealed on her cohorts.

After Wilma saw how lovely she looked in her new shorter hairstyle she decided not to press charges.

WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY?

For autographed copies of Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths you can buy directly from my website.








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