Thursday, November 29, 2012

Makeup Has Come a Long Way Since I Was a Kid

I was 16 in 1964, the first time I tried to wear makeup. My mom was of the opinion that "nice" women did not wear makeup so I applied it at school and tried to remember to wash it off before I got on the school bus to return home. One time I forgot to remove it. I realized my error when the first words out of my mom's mouth were, "Wash your face, you look like a whore. I could see you coming from a mile away." Mom had a real knack for exaggeration. The school bus stop was just down the street about a block away. Good thing I didn't say that out loud though. She would have washed my face and my mouth out for me. In retrospect, I have to admit she had a good point. Back then, makeup did nothing to enhance nature. It was more of a mask that covered nature up and in the hands of an inexperienced teenager, the results were pretty ugly and gaudy.

Today, makeup is fun and versatile. You can change your entire appearance with your moods and whims. Today, I can be bold. Tomorrow, I can look soft and romantic. The next day, I can take on a Gothic appearance, if I feel like it. That could start a few tongues in my neighborhood wagging. Grey hair and pushing 65 doesn't seem to work well with Goth.

I received a Bzz Kit from BzzAgent in Tuesday's mail. As a BzzAgent I receive products free in exchange for trying and reviewing the products.

I am having great fun with this campaign. It's from CoverGirl for Blastflipstick.  There are so many things to love about this lipstick. You get two colors in one tube. Yesterday, I blended the two colors together by putting the bold creamy color on the bottom and the soft, shimmery color over that. Loved the resulting color and look but what impressed me even more was that I applied it around 9 a.m. After eating, drinking, and even brushing my teeth after lunch the color was still going strong after 5 p.m.

This morning, I applied only the creamy bold color. I'm curious to see if the single layer lasts all day too. Tomorrow  I'll use the soft, shimmery color alone. I'm anticipating that one won't be as long lasting.

With 13 color combinations to choose from, you're sure to find one or more that are just right for you, no matter what mood you are in. I think my mother would approve.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

An Interview with a Fascinating Character From Divide by Zero, Sheila Deeth's Newest Novel

Author Sheila Deeth describes herself as a Mongrel Christian Mathematician.
I describe her as a wise, wonderful, witty friend and a talented, prolific, and versatile author. I have been privileged to have the opportunity to lose and find myself in her well woven characters and plots.
Here is an interview with Evie, one of the characters in Ms. Deeth’s newest book, Divide by Zero.
What’s your name?
I’m Evie Callaghan and I live just around the corner on Paradise Row.

Do you live on your own?
Just me and Amelia, yeah. My little girl, except she’s not so little anymore. My husband left us but you know how it is when your kid’s different. You blame yourself… blame each other… I mean, she’s your kid. She’s always there, reminding you. You don’t get over it so…

Did your husband leave when Amelia was born?
No. We didn’t know anything was wrong for a while. Not till she was two, three maybe. He stayed then too, did his best. We really did try.

Are you still in touch with your husband?
Not now no. He sends money and that. But we don’t call or meet. He said he didn’t want any photographs either. I don’t suppose he’d know her if he met her on the street, our Amelia.

Can you tell us what’s wrong with Amelia?
She’s autistic isn’t she? And it’s not my fault, whatever they say about frigid moms and all that. They don’t say it aloud anymore but you can see them thinking it, thinking I must’ve done something wrong. She’s just Amelia. It’s just the way she is.

How is she at home?
She’s fine. I mean, she throws her fits, gets mad, but you learn to cope. We both learn to cope. She’s even learned to call me Mom.

Does she go to school?
We tried but it’s too much for her. I teach her a bit at home, how to talk, how to tie her shoes, that kind of thing. Get help sometimes…

Do you get any time to yourself?
Yeah, Sundays I take her up to church. There’s always someone looks after her then, not Sunday school, just on her own. Then I come home and clean.

You don’t go to church yourself?
No. I did at first. We prayed for her, prayed over her, all that sort of thing. It didn’t work though. Then you see them wondering what’s wrong with you, like if you prayed the right way she’d be okay. I just got sick of being stared at. Pitied too. Poor old Evie with her weird little kid. “What can we do to help” ’cause we’re all so superior? I know it’s not what they mean but it’s what it feels like. I just got tired of it.

Are you a believer?
Sort of, yeah. I still pray.

What do you pray for?
Amelia. She’s growing up. I pray she’ll be okay. I pray… Like one day I’m gonna die and leave her on her own and she’ll never cope, so I pray she will cope, or something.

Well, I hope you get what you pray for. Where is Amelia?
(looking around) Oh she’s wandered off again. It worries me. There’s a predator in the park these days, they say.

Well, I hope she’s okay. Thank you for talking to us, Mrs. Callaghan.
(running off toward the trees) Amelia!

Divide by Zero Book Description
It takes a subdivision to raise a child, and a wealth of threads to weave a tapestry, until one breaks. Troy, the garage mechanic's son, loves Lydia, the rich man's daughter. Amethyst has a remarkable cat and Andrea a curious accent. Old Abigail knows more than anyone else but doesn't speak. And in Paradise Park a middle aged man keeps watch while autistic Amelia keeps getting lost. Pastor Bill, at the church of Paradise, tries to mend people. Peter mends cars. But when that fraying thread gives way it might take a child to raise the subdivision...or to mend it.

Divide by Zero: A community united by family and friendship, divided by tragedy, and reunited by the wisdom of a little boy.

Customer Review
Unusual and compassionate
An intriguing and moving novel about a new rural/suburban community in the US, describing how the residents interact and develop. It demonstrates how easily people can lapse into depression and other destructive behavior, but at the same time indicates how small initiatives can have a significant effect. Even the least appealing characters are portrayed sympathetically and are shown to have a rationale for their actions. There is a faint touch of mysticism, but not in an intrusive way, and the book as a whole leaves a positive feeling behind. 

October 28th and 29th--Sunday and Monday--Divide by Zero's scheduled to be free on Amazon kindle. Head on over to and get your free copy. Enjoy!

More Links to Sheila Deeth and Her Books
You can find more of Sheila Deeth’s books on Amazon here.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Author's Intention vs Reader's interpretation

I review books in exchange for free books. I'll bet some of the authors of the books I have reviewed have felt like I missed the point of their books altogether.

Does it really matter what the author intended? Yes, it's interesting to know the author's purpose but isn't it more important how the reader relates to it?

That's why I love comments on my writing. It's fascinating to me to read your interpretation of what I have written, how it may have touched you.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One-Eyed Jack

My short story, One-Eyed Jack has just been published by If you would like to get free monthly animal stories you can sign up at Floyd the Dog.

One-Eyed Jack
By Mary Russel

Flickertail the llama and Paint the horse were playing with G.G. the cat in the barnyard.
G.G. said, “My human, Alice just got another cat. His name is Jack and he could use some friends. Is it OK if I bring him over to meet you?”

“Of course. We can never have enough good friends,” Flickertail said while Paint nodded her agreement.

There’s something you should know about him, first,” said G.G. “He only has one eye.”

“Oh, the poor dear,” exclaimed Paint. “How did he lose his eye?”

“In a fight with a gang of cat bullies.”

“That must have been very frightening for Jack,” remarked Flickertail.

“Yes, he said he was terrified,” replied G.G. “He was covered in blood, and barely breathing when a lady found him in an alley. She took him to the nearest veterinarian who just happened to be the same vet Alice uses for me. When Jack was healed, the vet called Alice to see if she would like another cat.”

“Does he need help getting around?” asked Flickertail.

“No, he sees perfectly well out of his good eye and he can do everything I can do.” G.G. smiled. “He runs even faster than I do and he eats more too.  He’s a sweetie. Yesterday I got stuck in the basement. He scratched at the basement door and meowed until Alice got the hint and opened the door to let me out. I only told you about his eye so you wouldn’t stare at him. I’m afraid I did, when he first arrived. I’m sure I made him uncomfortable, even though he never said anything about it.”

G.G. left for lunch and when she came back, she had Jack with her. The four of them spent all afternoon playing games. The time passed quickly and, before they realized it, it was almost time for G.G. and Jack to go home for supper. They were playing the last game of the day near the farmhouse when Jack said, “Why have you been avoiding looking at my face? Is it ugly?"

“No, of course not,” said Flickertail.

“It’s a very handsome face,” Paint assured Jack.

“Well, then perhaps I have some food stuck in my whiskers or my teeth?”

Flickertail and Paint shook their heads.

Before they could tell him that they didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable by staring, Jack noticed his reflection in one of the windows. He screamed. 

“My eye! What happened to my eye? It’s gone! It must have fallen out while we were playing. Help me find it!” Jack dug frantically in the grass.

Flickertail and Paint were shocked. How could Jack not know about his missing eye? Surely, the vet had told him? They didn’t know what to say or do. Should they pretend to search for his eye?

Suddenly, Jack rolled in the grass making odd noises.

Flickertail and Paint rushed over to him. 

“What’s wrong?”

“What should we do to help?”

“Should we ask G.G. to fetch Alice so she can take you to the vet?”

Jack, unable to speak, just shook his head. That’s when Flickertail realized Jack was laughing so hard he couldn’t talk.

Meanwhile, G.G. had been hiding behind a haystack with her paw over her mouth, trying to muffle her laughter. When she heard Jack laughing, she dropped her paw and laughed so hard she could hardly stand up.

Flickertail and Paint looked at each other sheepishly. They both felt foolish but they were so relieved that they joined in the laughter.
When he was able to speak again, Flickertail said, “I’m so glad G.G. brought you over here to meet us. You are certainly going to liven up the place.”

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Touch of Civility in an Uncivil War

This review is from: Beloved Enemy: Battle of First Bull Run (Battles of Destiny #3) (Paperback)

From the Back Cover:

Jenny's allegiance lay with the Confederate Army. But her heart belonged to the enemy. Faithful to her family and the land of her birth, young Jenny Jordan covers for her father's Confederate spy missions. But as she grows closer to handsome Union soldier Buck Brownell. Jenny finds herself torn between devotion to the South and her feelings for the man she is forbidden to love. Overwhelmed by pressure to assist the South, Jenny agrees to carry critical information over enemy lines. But when she is caught in Buck Brownell's territory, will he follow orders to execute the beautiful spy or find a way to save his Beloved Enemy?

My Review:

I'm not a huge fan of war stories but I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. The author, Al Lacy does a good job of bringing history to life through Jenny and Buck's love story. I also liked his balanced interpretation of both the North and the South. He made me care about the people on both sides of the Civil War.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Ode to Wiggling Willy

There is an angler from Wales
Who names every worm he impales

The more Willy wiggles
The more the fish giggles

Beware of cute little wiggles

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Book Review of Waiting for Morning by Karen Kingsbury

It has long been my belief that God places the right people at the right time in our lives. Now, it appears, that is true of books too.

Years ago, I started writing Rudolph, a Child’s Love Story as an effort to come to terms with an unhappy childhood. After finishing the book, I thought I had but somehow, even though I felt I understood, something seemed missing. Like Hannah Ryan of Waiting for Morning, I still lived in a dark prison of my own making. But why?

I didn’t realize that true acceptance and peace requires forgiveness.

In Waiting for Morning, Hannah loses her husband and first born daughter through a drunk driver. She nearly loses her surviving daughter through her consuming anger and hatred of that driver.

The author compassionately and insightfully crafts each of her characters to the point where I felt like I understood and cared about all of them.

Be sure to read this book with a box of tissues nearby.

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

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Can Vampires be Redeemed?

Book Review of Tandem by Tracey Bateman, May 9, 2012 By Mary Russel This review is from: Tandem: A Novel (Paperback) Can Vampires be redeemed? Tandem is a sequel of Thirsty but it isn't necessary to have read it to enjoy this one. I didn't realize this book is about vampires when I agreed to review it or I would not have read it. I'm a bit tired of the vampire craze. I'm glad I didn't know because I would have missed a good book. Tracey Bateman's characters are believable and relatable. My favorite character was Lauryn McBride whose father, now suffering from Alzheimer's, started the family business, an auction house. Lauryn's life revolves around the care of her father and the responsibilities of the auction house. While investigating the antiques from the Chisom estate, she uncovers some ancient secrets that evil forces are determined to remain hidden. The frequent changes in point of view were a bit confusing. Lovers of mystery and suspense will enjoy the compelling twists and turns, if they can suspend their disbelief of vampires. So, can Vampires be redeemed? You'll have to read the book to find out. I received this book free from WaterBrook Press in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 9, 2012

My Book Review of Quiet by Susan Cain

Susan Cain believes Introverts are undervalued in an extrovert dominated world. Her message is about balance and respect for both.

My neighbor is a retired nurse. At home, she tends to be somewhat introverted. We seldom have the kind of conversations referred to as small talk, neither of us being particularly good at it. She tells me when she put on the uniform she became an extrovert and able to speak to her patients about anything. 

Like me, she craves solitude to recharge.

At one point in her book Susan questions whether introversion is a result of nurture or nature. Later she poses the possibility that it doesn’t really matter. What matters more, she feels, is what the individual is comfortable with.

As a writer, I am most comfortable when working with as few distractions as possible. I find a ringing telephone or even the background noise of a radio, irritating. Unfortunately, I am uncomfortable with promoting myself and my books, especially face to face. I tend to spend 95% of my promotional time online. Also unfortunately, there are times when I need to speak to people about my books face to face. So sometimes, I have to force myself to play the role of an extrovert.

Although the author doesn’t seem to think the nature nurture aspect is all that important, I find myself fascinated by it. My early childhood was spent with foster parents who often stated, “Children are meant to be seen and not heard.”  Later, upon meeting some of my birth family, it seemed to me they were pretty extroverted.

My husband is also an introvert, yet he manages to do well in the traditionally extroverted career of sales. 

I found Quiet fascinating, informative, and self affirming. If you are an introvert, it will help you understand and accept who you are. If you have a spouse, friend, or child who is introverted, hopefully it will also help you celebrate and encourage them. It turns out being an introvert isn’t a bad thing, as long as you can also function as an extrovert when the situation calls for it.

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Animal Characters in My Flickertail & Paint Book

Animal Characters in My Flickertail & Paint Book

Click the link above to see a folder I recently posted on Pinterest featuring some of the characters from Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Private Investigators, Flickertail & Paint in Ireland

After they visited Scotland, Flickertail, the llama and Paint, the horse took a detour to Ireland before going home.

As they were touring the Guinness Storehouse and Brewery in Dublin they met Lochlann, the Leprechaun who was crying in his beer about a stolen pot.

“When did you discover it was missing?”

“Around the same time that the Brewery was robbed.  It was the biggest robbery in the history of the brewery.“

“What was taken from the Brewery?”

“450 kegs of Guinness.”

“Could the same person or people who stole the Guinness have stolen your pot?”

“Possibly, but the Garda Siochana Police Force didn’t find my pot.”

“Where did you last see the pot?”

“At the end of the rainbow of course. Everyone knows that. Are you sure you can help me?” he asked doubtfully.

Flickertail looked at Paint and whispered, “I think this guy’s had one too many Guinness.”

“Just go along with him,” said Paint.

“Show us,” Flickertail said to Lochlann.

“We’ll have to wait until it rains. While we’re waiting for it to rain lets have another Guinness all around.”

By mid afternoon it started raining while they were singing “When Irish Eyes are Smiling.” Several songs later a rainbow appeared.

“Follow that rainbow,” Lochlann shouted.

When they reached the end of the rainbow, there was no pot. All that they found was an empty pint of Guinness with a note inside.  It said I’m holding your pot for ransom. If you want to see it again, bring more Guinness to the next rainbow and no cops. You’re being watched.

“Hmm, sounds like he might be nearby,” said Flickertail.

“Isn’t there supposed to be gold in the pot?” Paint asked.

“That’s an old wives tale.”

 “What is in the pot then? Surely no one would bother to steal an empty pot?”

“Guinness, of course.”

“What good is the pot once it’s empty?”

“It refills itself but only if you are Irish.”

“So we know the pot thief isn’t Irish.”

“Everybody’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day.”

“Well that’s not until the 17th. Today’s only the 12th.”

“I don’t think that Lochlann should go alone,” said Paint. “The thief may just try to kidnap him so that the pot keeps refilling.”

“What do you suggest?”

“I think you should dress like a leprechaun and go in his place.”

“Why me?”

“You’re smaller than I am. I’m as big as a horse. No one is going to believe I’m a leprechaun.”

“He’s going to be awfully upset when he finds out I’m not Irish.”

“I’ll be within ear shot.”

“Me too; I want my pot back and I can help. I have a few tricks up my sleeve, if we need them,” said Lochlann.

So the trio went to the end of the next rainbow where they encountered Hamish the Coo, the famous cow from Scotland. “What are you doing in Ireland?” the detectives asked in unison.

“I followed you from Scotland. The only thing that comes close to Guinness in Scotland is Tennent's Stout.”

“YOU’RE the thief!”

“No one is going to believe that a Scottish cow stole a leprechaun’s pot for Irish beer.”

“Well, this is certainly one for the Guinness Book of Records.”

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Book Review of NOT BY MIGHT by Al Lacy

I hardly ever write a negative book review. As an author, I respect how much blood, sweat, and tears are shed during the writing of a book. 

It is obvious that the author, Al Lacy has a great love of God, the old west, and the history of Colorado.

Not By Might has an intriguing plot and lots of action once it gets started. Unfortunately, it takes awhile to get started. I might have stopped reading it before I got to the good parts, if I hadn’t committed myself to reviewing it.

I liked the characters but I didn’t love them. It’s hard to relate to perfection when we all have flaws.

Some of the dialog seemed stilted and contrived, especially when the characters discussed Christianity.  The scripture passage that inspired the book’s title lost its power as a result of too much repetition, often in inappropriate situations.

I also had a bit of a problem with some of the medical history. The story is set in the old west but no actual year is cited. Still, I question whether there was a hospital of that size yet, in Denver and if surgery was that advanced. On at least two occasions, the main female character, an excellent nurse, is encouraged to become a doctor. I doubt that would have happened in the 1800s. 

The love scenes were sweet but a bit too mushy for my tastes.

I did enjoy the action scenes. They had me on the edge of my seat.

There were several subplots that seemed a bit disjointed but they all pulled together neatly at the end. The ending felt unrealistic but it was satisfying nevertheless.

I did like the unusual combination of Christianity, medicine, and the old west. Even though the book had flaws, I would recommend it for lovers of the western genre. 

I received this book free from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.