Monday, November 28, 2011

My Christmas Stories published in an ezine and a animal charity support website

I've recently been informed that one of my short stories starring Flickertail the llama & Paint the horse has been accepted for publication on http://thebrowsingcorner.com/ , a literary e-zine and another short story, also starring Flickertail & Paint will be published on http://www.floydthedog.com/, a supporter of animal charities.

Floyd the Dog authors are allowed to name an animal charity of their choice and Floyd the Dog sends them a generous donation. I have chosen the Fond du Lac Humane Society for my charity. We have adopted three dogs from them since 1987.

My short stories will appear in December's editions of these publications.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

An Exercise in Character Development


I wrote this while trying to get into the mind of one of my characters for my novel in progress.

While driving through a neighborhood, I noticed an empty soup can in a window. I smiled wryly, remembering our all-clear signal from a lifetime ago. I wondered if the tenant was placing herself in the same untenable situation. 

After I moved away, you called once but I had grown up and learned how to say no. I never heard from you, afterward.

Recently, a mutual friend and confidante informed me I would never again get the chance to tell you yes or no. 

Hazy memories can be lovely.
Our reality wasn’t.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Book Review of Kindred Spirits (First Generation) by Clifford Neal

Kindred Spirits: First Generation (Paperback) I love writing, reading, and researching American history and obviously the author, Clifford Neal does too.

This novel is historical fiction inspired by Clifford Neal's ancestral research.

I found the main characters to be well developed and fun to read about. The descriptions of place and time made me feel like I was there, experiencing the adventure with each character.

Rich with romance and intrigue, the author's vivid writing makes history come alive.

BOOK DESCRIPTION (from Amazon)
With his feet on the American continent in Colonial Virginia during the early 1700's, William Neal, an Irish immigrant, struggles to establish himself in a society moving toward its destiny as a new nation. An aspiring farmer, settling in the Shenandoah Valley where neighbors are miles apart, William loses his wife in childbirth, and faces life alone. Exploring the wilderness around him, he becomes involved in fur trading with the Indian tribes across the mountains and along the Ohio River. Forming a partnership with a trading company based on the Potomac River, he develops a close relationship with a white family there. Among the Indians, Will is befriended by a chieftain of the Fox tribe and falls in love with a talented, intelligent and beautiful native woman. Unscrupulous and competing English traders create chaos, resulting in violence between the tribes of the Ohio Valley and the Virginians, which threatens open warfare. Virginia's governor calls upon the experience and proven talents of William and assigns him the task of convincing the tribal governments to send delegates to a peace conference in Williamsburg. Negotiating with the tribes, while in danger of being killed by his own countrymen, William and his partners explore uncharted methods of diplomacy and ambassadorship. Months spent in an unknown and magnificent wilderness challenge his every fiber and hone his character. Finding himself the unwilling owner of seven black African slaves and torn between the values of conflicting societies, William longs for love and a return to his simple and peaceful life as a farmer. This is a gripping tale of romance, adventure, greed and intrigue that will find its readers on the edge of their seat and staying up late at night. Kindred Spirits is Book One of a generational series.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Flickertail & Paint Hide William the Turkey

“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 Alice's cat, 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 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.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Flickertail and Paint in the Case of the Mysterious Trapdoor

“Is that a trapdoor, Flickertail?”
Using his padded foot, Flickertail pushed the remaining straw away from the barn floor. “It certainly is, Paint.”
Flickertail maneuvered the handle with his split upper lip while Paint pounded at the door with his hooves to free it. Once opened, they both approached the opening cautiously. “The steps look large enough for us to grip safely, Paint.”
“Let’s see where they lead, then.”
“Better take a flashlight.” With his teeth, Flickertail pulled the magnetic flashlight off the metal cabinet and turned it on with his tongue.
At the bottom of the steps they discovered a long straight tunnel. They walked for about fifty feet before discovering another door.
“Where do you think we are, Flickertail?”
“Based on the direction we took, I’m guessing the house.”
When they opened the door they were in the basement of the house.
Flickertail stepped beyond the door. “I wonder if Tom and Mary know about the tunnel.”
Paint walked around to the other side of the opened door. “I’ll bet they don’t. Look.” Paint closed the door and Flickertail saw that the door was covered with faux fieldstone that effectively camouflaged the door making it look like part of the basement’s fieldstone foundation. “We should tell them, don’t you think?”
“Yes, but not yet.”
“Why not?”
“I’ll tell them after Thanksgiving. William, the turkey is getting worried and the tunnel will be a good place for him to hide until then.”
Later, William, the turkey confided in Flickertail and Paint. “I didn’t go to the tunnel looking for redemption but somehow I found it. I was saving my hide by hiding out in the tunnel over Thanksgiving but solitary confinement has made me contemplate my wild life of telling bad turkey jokes.” 
“Oh? Like what?”
“Why was the turkey arrested?
He was suspected of fowl play.
Why did the turkey join the band?
Because he had the drumsticks.
Why did the turkey cross the road?
It was the chicken’s day off.”
Flickertail & Paint gave thanks for not being turkeys on Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 7, 2011

A Book Review of The Christmas Singing by Cindy Woodsmall

Things are not as they seem in this story of an Amish romance gone wrong. Mattie and Gideon are childhood friends whose relationship becomes romantic and then stormy when Mattie catches Gideon with another woman. Gideon and Mattie break up and Mattie moves to Ohio after Gideon ends their engagement on Christmas Eve with a lie.

Mattie, a resourceful woman, starts a cake decorating business and finds a new romance. A tragic accident forces her to return to Apple Ridge, Pennsylvania where she runs into Gideon again. When she finally learns the secret behind his lie, will it draw them together again or tear them further apart?

I loved Mattie and her story. I admired her creativity and strength and found her charming even with her flaws. She is a bit scatterbrained, jealous, and very angry at Gideon. But Gideon could have saved himself from her sharp tongue by being honest with her. He failed to understand and appreciate her strengths. The book is a great reminder of how lies can destroy happiness and how we should never underestimate the ability of people who love us to understand and forgive when given a fair chance.

I received this book free from Waterbrook Multnomah in exchange for my honest review.

The Missing Turkey

While Flickertail was visiting Paint, the Feldstein Inn down the road from Paint’s barn was overflowing with guests on Thanksgiving.  Usually the inn only served breakfast but these guests were chefs and they chose the Feldstein Inn for their annual Thanksgiving cookoff. Each chef’s dish or dessert would be judged and awarded a possible ribbon. The ribbons represented a great deal of prestige which translated into extra business for the winning chefs.

With so many cooks in the kitchen things got a bit chaotic and the turkey was somehow misplaced.

The chefs looked in all the obvious places like the freeezer, the refrigerator, the kitchen counter, the dining room table, the microwave, and the oven with no success.

“Our friends and the judges will be arriving in less than six hours. How can we possibly have Thanksgiving without the turkey?”

“There’s a famous horse and llama detective team on the neighbors’ farm,” said the inn keeper. “I’ll go get them.”

“Do you think one of the chefs hid the turkey on purpose to sabatoge another chef from winning the ribbon?” Flickertail asked Paint on the way to the Feldstein Inn.

“Well, let’s find out.”

When the detectives entered the kitchen Paint asked, “Which of you is responsible for preparing the turkey?”

“We all are but Three Feathers, who also dances with turkeys, oversees the turkey preparations.”

“Is there a head chef?”

One of the chefs stepped forward. “I am.”

“What’s your name?”

“Bill.”

“OK Bill. Have you finished preparing your dish yet?”

“Yes.”

“Fine, then let’s talk out here on the porch.”

As Bill, Flickertail, and Paint prepared to be seated, Paint noticed an odd odor. “There’s a fowl odor in here.”

“You mean it smells bad?” asked Bill.

“No, I mean it smells like fowl.”

The three of them sniffed every nook and cranny trying to determine where the odor originated.

Flickertail found some bones including the wish bone. “Maybe we should wish for the rest of the turkey to suddenly appear.”

Robin Williams appeared as a genie. “I was just sleeping off the tryptophan and I’m in a foul mood. What do you want?”

“Since when do wishbones conjure up genies?”

“Things are tough all over. The genie union can’t afford magic lamps anymore. You only get one wish and you cannot wish for more wishes.”

“What happened to the other two?”

“As I said, blame it on the economy.”

“Someone or something ate the turkey. We need a 20 pounder.”

“Do you want the bird in hand or in the bush?”

“Well, a bird in hand is worth two in the bush so the bird in hand.”

“Say abracadbra!”

“Why?”

“Were you expecting hocus pocus? No particular reason. I just like the way it sounds. Besides I’m in charge of this llama and pony show.”

“Abracadabra.”

The turkey appeared and Robin disappeared.

WANT AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY?

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








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